Three-Box Sedan: Lancia Trevi Heads to Auction

Lancia’s model range was much more varied back home even when the automaker was still present in the U.S. some 40 years ago, but we rarely see any of the later models that weren’t on the menu stateside, with the exception of the few examples of the Delta Integrale that made it here. But Lancia’s lineup was not filled solely with sport cars or rally-bred hatches—there were some fairly conventional-looking models within the range, models rarely seen today.

In a couple of days Classic Car Auctions will offer one such rarely seen model: a Lancia Trevi sedan, which the marque produced to give other compact sedans on the continent some competition. The auction house plans to offer this fully-restored example at the London Classic Car Show sale.

The name Trevi itself gives a good clue as to what Lancia wanted to achieve with this car: Trevi is derived from Tre Volumi in Italian, meaning “three-box.” This three-box sedan was actually based pretty heavily on the Lancia Beta, but offered much of those mechanicals in a design that was either immediately forgettable, or strangely memorable because of its anonymity. A mix of flat surfaces and occasional curves drew comparisons to cars like the Peugeot 504 of the time or the Ford Granada, while the car’s rear invited comparisons to the Mercedes-Benz W123 and the even GAZ 3102. With the badging removed, it still seems like it could have been a challenge for those who hadn’t seen it before to associate it with any specific marque.

In reality the Trevi was quite a bit smaller than those cars, 16 inches shorter than the W123, for instance, and about four inches shorter than a W201 C-Class. But it wasn’t exactly light, and its surprisingly short wheelbase still seems a little odd to this day.

One of the few elements of stylistic flair in the design of the exterior might have been the C-pillar vents, which seemed like an item added after the fact. The interior, on the other hand, featured a dash often described as “Swiss cheese”—but in a good way—with an extensive series of ovals housing instruments and buttons.

A transversely-mounted straight-four making just 113 hp in 2.0 liter form powered the Trevi, coupled to either a five-speed manual or a three speed automatic. Slightly more powerful versions were on the menu, but even the top VX trim only produced just north of 130 hp.

The car that Classic Car Auctions will offer this weekend is a rare right-hand drive version that has just received a restoration described as nut and bolt, to the tune of about $45,000. It’s finished in silver metallic over a blue upholstery and has a manual transmission.

This Trevi comes from a reputed Lancia collector, the auction house notes, which probably won’t surprise many looking at the effort devoted to the project, effort that will be detailed in a hardback book that has been commissioned. The auction house describes this example of the Trevi as “one of the best in the world,” and is said of just two or three surviving examples in the U.K. The odometer displays 0 miles.

The auction house does not give an estimate for the car, only noting that it will be offered at no reserve.

Examples of the Trevi do not come up for auction all that often, and the extensive restoration (and the money spent on it) of a Trevi is perhaps rarer still. One of the few comparables of low-mileage Trevis we could find was for sale in Germany almost a decade ago with 157 kilometers on the clock, with an asking price of 18,000 euros. As nice at it seemed at the time, those who would pay 18,000 euros for an as-new Trevi are probably a small contingent, even in Lancia circles.

For instance: Would they feel free to drive it and add more kilometers to it after spending that money, or would they preserve it as-is?

Whether this particular car lands in the same range remains to be seen, because the audience for a right-hand drive Trevi with 0 miles on the clock might be limited to the members of Lancia clubs in the U.K. In fact, its right-hand drive layout is perhaps a good guarantee that it will stay in the U.K.

Visit the auction website to view the full list of lots from the upcoming sale.

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