Thursday November 22, 2018
Some cars appear to be forgotten shortly after, or even during their production run despite their merits; the Honda Quintet is one such model that comes to mind. However, the Lancia Trevi was destined to be remembered by thousands of motorists, partially for its list of virtues – but mainly because of its fascia. The designer Mario Bellini referred to it as ‘A complex architecture of interiors in a small, very restricted space. A challenge tackled by the architect from a structural, and not purely aesthetic, angle’. Meanwhile, less high-minded types often compared the dashboard to a) a certain Swiss cheese or b) Servalan’s spaceship on Blake’s Seven but you cannot deny that it was eye-catching.
The Trevi debuted in May 1980 as a response to market demands for a conservative-looking “three-box” saloon as an alternative to the Beta Berlina. In the UK it was further tasked with revitalising the Lancia brand in the aftermath of the “Rust Scandal” -
and at the NEC the Trevi certainly attracted attention, despite competition from the new Austin Mini Metro and the Ford Escort Mk. III.
The two Lancias shared a floorpan but very few body panels and the Trevi’s engine choices were 1.6-litre or 2- litre – only the latter was initially available with the UK. For £6,490 you gained alloy wheels, electric windows, alloy wheels, a sliding roof, a top speed of 113mph and a sense of individualism.
In my subjective view, the coachwork with those elaborate C-pillars is rather elegant and should you catch a Trevi in the metal; you might well conclude that photographs rarely capture its appeal. Alas, your chances of finding one of the road are incredibly slim - https://www.howmanyleft.co.uk/vehicle/lancia_trevi
Theo Kyriacou owns a very exclusive example of this distinctive Lancia and it was one of the stars of the 2013 Classic Motor Show. His splendid 1.6 Automatic is the sole remaining example in the country, and it will feature in a separate blog later this year. Theo also points out that ‘the famous Bellini "Trevi Dashboard" was introduced in the Berlina S3 which came out a few months before the Trevi’ – but it will always be associated with the latter car:
Autocar thought that the Trevi has ‘the performance and the economy to appeal to the Lancia enthusiast’ and Car tested a 2.0 Litre opposite a Citroën CX Reflex and a Saab 900 GLs. They noted that the quality of the Italian saloon was a ‘good omen for Lancia’s future sales development in this country’ and concluded ‘And if you push us to say which one out of the three we enjoyed most as tested? We would shut our left eye, stretch our arms and pick the Trevi – to our admitted surprise’. However, they still found the dashboard to be ‘dreadfully ugly (for most)’.
The Beta range was discontinued in 1984 and the Trevi’s numbers began to diminish rapidly, Yet, it was destined never to be forgotten due to its prowess as a sports saloon – and, yes, that facia.