1992 Lancia Magia Concept by IAD
It seems improbable but Worthing once briefly threatened to unseat Turin and Milan as a key hub of international car design. That may sound a mite fanciful, but the appearance of the IAD Lancia Magia at the 1992 Turin motor show triggered palpable ripples because a British styling house had chosen to showcase its brave new world on hallowed turf. The cheek of it all. Here was a Lancia-badged – and supported – coupé that took all the best bits from the Dedra Integrale and added a much-needed dose of style into the mix. Words: Richard Heseltine. Pictures: Magic Car Pics.
ON THE FRINGE IAD LANCIA MAGIA
Lancia trumpeted the car in its promotional literature, too, so you suspect a few Latin noses were put out of joint. What they wouldn’t have known, however, was that this seemingly unstoppable force was on borrowed time. The firm behind the handsome Magia had grown out of all proportion since its formation in 1976, to the point that it was employing a 1400-strong workforce inside 15 years. Big names such as Volvo, General Motors and Rolls-Royce tapping its brains trust, IAD assisting in the creation of everything from the first-series Mazda MX-5 to the, er, Ford Scorpio estate. It’s fair to say it had form.
As with other styling houses, IAD wasn’t above producing the occasional concept car to broadcast its skillset to the wider world. The Magia (Italian for Magic) was one such show queen. And it was Royal College of Art student Michael Ani who landed the gig of shaping the car, the thirty-something American conjuring an outline that, in rendering form at least, bore strong overtones of Zagato’s Fulvia Sport. Brian Osborne was tasked with creating the interior which comprised a riot of curves, Alcantara, and not always functional switchgear.
Beneath the hand-formed glassfibre bodyshell sat the donor car’s platform, but with reconfigured MacPherson strut mounting points to help achieve a low bonnet line. The track was also some 101mm wider front and rear, a deviation expediently achieved by means of spacers being added behind the OZ wheels. And the Magia was a driver, too, although the claimed top speed of 141mph and 0-60mph time of around 6.5-seconds was probably PR smoke and mirrors. It was a show car with all that entails.
While Lancia’s parent company Fiat may have given its blessing, that’s where its support began and ended. There was never the slightest hint of the Magia concept foretelling a production variant; the first proper mainstream Lancia coupé since the Gamma. And to some members of this parish, the Magia also suffered by comparison with its near contemporary, the Marco Pedracini-styled Lancia Hyena Zagato. The ‘British Lancia’ may have been handsome but it wasn’t gorgeous.
Unfortunately, IAD was hit hard by a global recession which saw a marked decrease in spending from car manufacturers. The firm was swallowed up by the Mayflower Group in 1993, which in turn sold it to Daewoo Motors a year later. The death of the studio’s co-founder and guiding force John Shute in 1995 did nothing to shore up the firm’s footing, and various sections of the business were later hived off to TWR. As to the fate of the sole Magia prototype, it was last seen on display in an East Midlands car dealership in the late 1990s. The trail has cooled appreciably since then.