Lights flash, with experience of frailty passing closely. Red short firecracker have managed to break the speeding law. 835 kilos of metal, hooked up to my limited perception. No time to drag on what could’ve been. Adjust that chipped mirror and go. Fourth gear coming out of the bend, drop the clutch, road’s rising, oncoming traffic steals visibility. Holding on to the wheel too strong. Two hours passed since I started. Four pots work hard with no indication of letting go. Brilliant little bastard of an engine breaks every time in traffic. Here though, as if I finally found what it’s supposed to be doing, goes on with butter-smooth responses. Linkages connecting controls are thin, and who knows how old. Next cars are overtaken, left with confusion. I have to plan the next segment. Long left corner going downwards with no end visible. Almost crashed head on before, so no time for foolishness. Tap the brake, gear reduced, blip the throttle, let the clutch fly again. Mind the weight transfer, don’t tip over the edge. Feel centrifugal force pushing and Cliff Burton’s bass pulling. 100 degrees late, let more air into the chamber. Fourth, fifth, no gears left, top speed run. It ain’t high, but I’m very much so. Hearing and smell go away to let higher-order awareness in. Oh how dumb is trying to break the clock in this car. Imagination runs different scenarios of how it could go terribly wrong. If brakes fail I can always try to engine brake and it’ll probably blow up. Italian engineering after all. If engine fails, I can only hope for steering not locking out on me. Rest will most definitely kill me. Pyrotechnic detonators in airbags are probably dead already. Can only hope it’ll end as smooth and fast as I’m going now. Shut up. Going too long on this straight, makes you weak. Drop back down to third. Series of sweeping line changes on the way to roundabout. Too close to the curb. Scratched my wheels. At least that’s what I think. Quick calculation. How fast can I go? Too fast – heavy countersteering will move balance to the front corner letting my back loose. Too slow and flow’ll be gone. New scratch, bump both left wheels up and come out in second. Final stretch of unmonitored road, last time to have fun. Can already see city lights. 3, maybe 4 kilometers. Go on. No rev counter, music’s too loud. Solo ended, time for track 6. Drums bang on before next rhythmic hit and riff starts. Shakiness of chassis goes along to the beat. Tight steering’s hard to control with such sweaty hands. Wind hits the windshield, so am almost I going straight into a pothole. Gauge lightning goes off. Build the speed back up. Let go of the wheel. Still going straight, good. Brake lights in front. Do the same. Check what’s happening, quickly, getting to the end. Left lane, overtake, car’s cutting me off. Left-foot brake. What the hell am I doing? Radar in front, get back in the lane, short-shift to fifth and go along with the rest. City sign. Fun’s over.
Bipolar would be the right diagnosis. Sitting in my car next morning, I was a bit scared of myself and laughing at the same time. Cold sweat’s over. I’m stationary. No need to run emergency strategies. Crackles of hot metal still in my ears. Senses came back. Smell of freshly renewed leather seats. Let the air in, feel alive. Flashy red of hood in front. Lancia logo gloriously shining on the steering wheel. Sunlight getting through the window. It ain’t Delta, but it’s mine. Red little Ypsilon. With 1.2 liters of divided in four steel combustion auditorium for ants in the front, where driven wheels are. The fastest I went was probably 150 kph? Not sure anymore. It’s nothing. But felt like time travel. On narrow, bendy roads outside residential area you can create a real chaos. Lightness and underpowered guts, pushed to the limit. If you’re fluid enough, maintaining a surprising average is natural. Especially going along in between huge SUV’s scared to stay in their lane. Slow car fast. I finally got it. Was struggling to admit such thing not so long ago, thinking that at least 200 horsepower is a must to have fun. And yeah, if going in the straight line is all you do, that may be true. To me, it’s boring after a while. Search started. Found it. Which is why I finally shut up and remained humble, my Lancia had only 60 Mediterranean ponies running around when new. It could have a bit more or less in its prime during my ownership. I’s still shamefully low number anyway. Feeling of speed is what’s sold by that car. Very little input is needed to change directions. And when you do, it just completes the order instantly. Higher the speed, more you have to be careful not to lose control. More wind too, but there’s a lot you can feel from the bottom. Tyres may be thin, but independent suspension all around makes you feel the road well. Overall weight isn’t what I call revolutionary, but with the Lancia’s set up it behaves very light. And trying to connect with Ypsilon is a way to go as you can’t really rely on this comically microscopic… everything. Turning your whole head is safer than squinting your eyes trying to interpret impressionist version of what happened behind you a second ago.
It wasn’t the car that I wanted. With the views that I had, I would much rather go for a diesel-powered Citroen than something so small. I drove it like I stole it then. Some episodic hatred sprinkled on top. With PTSD that it’s gotten after such treatment no surprise it wouldn’t function properly in the traffic. As it should. Maintained as it was. Could fit in every single parking space, go forever on one tank of gas, with my mods it didn’t hurt to go cross-country. Normally I would expect this coke-can-tiny borderline impulsive rascal to die with a farty explosion when learning heel and toe downshifts. Maybe swallow its own wheel when going too hard on the hairpin. Rolling over also came to my mind back then. Or being crushed to death, unnoticed by a huge truck or tractor. You could also get pancaked, swerving at 120 when this cat diva started licking its butt in the middle of the road at night. Getting to the trunk was a real thing, gotta remember about this. It had no air con. Electrical systems were Italian-made so you know, they don’t work by design. Now that I think of it all, it seems kinda dangerous to go about regular business in Lancia like this – but the type of danger in question is very much of Randle McMurphy. So, there I am, having fond memories of this Lancia anyway. Ypsilon did everything. Of course it needed a good day, waking up with the right leg, certain alignment of planets, no sudden shifts in magnetic field and blessing of pope but once you had all this – brilliant.
Treacherous little motherf….