i write about wine | part iv


That right there is what I have been waiting for since I was five years old: a black Lancia Beta coupe.

You see, I did not grow up in a normal home. Not that anyone else I know did, but still - this home was blessed with an astonishing array of neat cars and people who were not afraid to test the cars' top speeds with a blood-alcohol content well above the legal limit and a five-year-old child riding shotgun, fire extinguisher at the ready.

Why the fire extinguisher? We had a few Renaults.


On the other end of the spectrum, though, were a pair of big silver Mercedes SEL sedans, a pair of 5-liter Mustang GTs, a 280ZX Datsun, an orange VW Camper van, and the reddest, loudest, tightest 1975 Lancia Beta coupe in all existence.

When I turned 14, the keys to Lancia were handed over to me.

I didn't want it, but there was no denying that I loved the Lancia. I hated it, too. It never ran. None of my friends knew what it was. It was a pile.

Even so, I would wash it every weekend. I would tinker with it, helped along by aunts and uncles who pointed out the Weber carbs and taught me how to gap the plugs.

Every now and then it would start.

Every now and then it would run.

Every now and then it was perfect, and I would charge around Kendall with the Ansa exhaust signing, not a care in the world.

I won't depress you with the whys and hows of that car's exit from my life. I will say, however, that I tried to recapture that experience twice since then, with a pair of newer red Betas, but they didn't work out.

"We" didn't work out, I should say, and any gearheads addicted to Italian cars of a certain age, I think, will understand my meaning there.

All of this leads me to something that's been on my mind these past few days: the potentially upcoming 2012 Chrysler Delta, by Lancia.


I find myself asking all of my industry buddies about the car on an almost weekly basis, but few have seen it. Chrysler's trotted it out to a few auto shows, sure, but the general-public 'Muricans who saw it didn't know quite what to make of this premium compact. It was the sex of the thing; too much, I think, for a bunch of clods who think an Edsel looks like a vulva, you know?

I've put out some feelers to try to get the real scoop, and see if maybe - just, maybe - this will be the one that brings back that lovin' feeling ...

... in black, this time.


  1. I was completely turned off by Chrysler's display at the Chicago Auto Show. It was ostentatious and completely inappropriate. The Lancia's merely okay-looking in the flesh.

    The chick, on the other hand...

  2. Lancia's were rarely more than OK in the flesh, especially at shows. Even the Fulvia is kind of odd-looking, in that context. They only look "right" when they're balls-out, liveried, and covered in rally lights.