Review and road test of the Lancia Y10 (1985 - 1991)
RARER THAN WHITE HEN'S TEETH?
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Although it's hard to believe now that it has passed into relative obscurity, but during a short period in the mid Eighties, Lancia's Y10 was the hot ticket amongst style conscious city dwellers. Offering a healthy dose of Italian pizzazz in a market dominated by Fiestas and Metros, the Y10 was, in many respects, a good way ahead of its time. It wasn't until the Fiat Cinquecento was launched fully eight years after the Y10 made its debut that the public at large really cottoned on to what Lancia were trying to market. Those that did take the plunge and buy a Y10 were treated to a small car with a serious measure of fun thrown in. Italian cars of this era have been saddled with something of a reputation for electrical and mechanical gremlins and the Y10 shares its predecessors' propensity to oxidise. Therefore is it even worth trying to get hold of a used example? Find out here.
Models Covered: 3 door citycar, 1.0, 1.05, 1.1, 1.3-litre petrol [FIRE, Touring, Turbo, Fila, FIRE LX, Missoni, Martini, GTie, LXie, Selectronic]
Launched at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show, the Lancia Y10 was a combination of bold in-house design and rudimentary chassis componentry. The sheared off rear end and the high level of standard equipment differentiated the Y10 from many cars in its class although the public were slow to take it to their hearts. The usual group of early adopters prized the Lancia's nonchalant Italian style and it became popular with city dwellers and dependently wealthy students. Three models were introduced to the British market in 1986. First up was the 45bhp 999cc FIRE (Fully Integrated Robotised Engine). If you had qualms about buying a Lancia that was pre primed with FIRE across its engine you could always opt for the 55bhp 1050cc Touring model. This proved the most popular version although the car which garnered the most headlines was the 85bhp Turbo, at the time the smallest capacity forced induction car on sale in Europe.
The model range was rehashed in late 1986 with the addition of the FIRE LX and this was followed by a number of special edition versions including the Missoni (metallic blue paint and velvet trim), the Martini Turbo (featuring the evocative Martini body stripes) and the Fila (colour coded white bumpers and tailgate with Fila logos). In 1987 Lancia made some rear suspension changes and upped the sound insulation and in 1990 the Y10 Selectronic was introduced, offering a rather unlovely CVT transmission. In 1989 a revised version of the Y10 was launched and the Turbo was quietly deleted from the line up, replaced by the normally aspirated 75bhp 1.3-litre GTie. The last of the UK cars were imported at the tail end of 1991.
What You Get
A quirky and stylish citycar that once carried off the Tornio-Piemonte design award. Later models were well loaded with standard equipment, the GTie featuring a dashboard, seats, and door panels trimmed in soft touch Alcantara. Those looking for the rarest model can attempt to track down the four-wheel drive version that was never officially imported to the UK. Although its styling isn't as recognisably classic as the Fiat Panda - the source of the Y10's front suspension and transmission - it has nevertheless aged well and a nicely looked after car still cuts a dash.
What to Look For
Lancias have a reputation for rust, largely earned by the Beta models of the Seventies, but the Y10 isn't immune to the metal moth. Particular areas you should pay attention to include the front wing seams, the door skins, the inner wheelarches, the boot lids and the petrol tank fixings. In extreme cases the plastic petrol tanks can work loose and fall out. This will probably ruin your day. Rear wings for the Y10 are virtually impossible to get hold of so if you see a car with corroded rear quarters, walk away.
The Brazilian manufactured 1050cc engines are pretty tough but they are noisy and the tappets require frequent adjustment for smooth running. The FIRE engine is the most rugged. As with virtually any Italian car from the Eighties, the electricals are idiosyncratic to say the least and electric window motors are particularly prone to failure. Dashboard warning lights often resemble the big board from the USS Enterprise at start up. The base cloth trim for the seats is prone to fraying and the Alcantara trim fitted to upspec model fades in sunlight and is very susceptible to burns. The dashboard squeaks on many cars and driveshafts on Turbo models are prone to failure. Apart from that, not much to report.
(approx based on 86 FIRE) A front wing is around £185 and an exhaust rear box £120. A fuel tank is around £125 and a fuel pump £20. Brake calipers retail at around £28 and an exhaust manifold £100.
On the Road
All Y10 models have a distinctly nervous ride, although the alterations made to the rear suspension in 1987 at least made the nervousness a little quieter. That said, the handling was - with the exception of the Mini - the best fun in the citycar class and the 85bhp Turbo model was capable of nothing off the sprint to 60mph in 9.5 seconds. You had to put up with a quirky driving position but fun came by the bucketload.
You've got to be committed to want a Y10 but if you are handy with a spanner and soldering iron you should enjoy the experience. We'd opt for the last of the Turbo models or a low mileage GTie.
Lancia Y10 (1985 - 1991) review by ANDY ENRIGHT