Life was never easy for Lancia, but the grand old Italian brand has always had its followers.
Vincenzo Lancia began building his own cars in 1906, after a career as a Fiat apprentice, test driver and Grand Prix racer.
The early Lancias were lightweight and refined but conventional. Then in 1921 Lancia and his engineers surprised the world with the avant garde Lambda. It featured three technical firsts: a unitary body, an independent front suspension and a compact narrow-angle V-4 engine.
Lancia soon found a niche as a brand for artists and individualists. Aficionados included author Ernest Hemingway.
Shortly before his death in February 1937, Vincenzo Lancia launched his most significant model, the Aprilia. The four-meter-long sedan was praised for its four-wheel independent suspension, an aerodynamic, lightweight body and packaging that increased interior space.
Gianni, Lancia's flamboyant son, took over the company and masterminded the innovative 1950 Aurelia.
But Gianni was no businessman. An expensive foray into Grand Prix racing in 1954 forced him to sell to Carlo Pesenti, an Italian entrepreneur.
Pesenti couldn't make money, and he sold out to Fiat in 1969. Seven years later the last V-4 Lancia was built.
Lancia never lived up to Fiat's expectations. A badly managed rust problem and poor marketing damaged Lancia's image abroad. The future of the brand is in doubt. For Lancia it is nothing new.