In a recent Car Design News article vehicle styling facelifts were discussed, and how a facelift can sometimes be a styling step backwards.
Several Italian cars were featured, including the 2004 Fiat Multipla, and the Mk2 Punto of 2003
The Fiat Multipla was a challenging design, only the name having anything in common with the original Multipla. This new car had 3 abreast seating, vertical sides, and an imitation off-road style nose with 2 tier headlights.
This design was unique, and made the Multipla very recognisable.
In 2004 an attempt was made to normalise the controversial Multipla,
so Fiat facelifted the front end of the car. This was a step backwards, leaving a wacky rear end attached to a now anodyne face,
making the worst of both worlds.
Original distinctive Fiat Multipla
Anodyne facelift Multipla
Original Fiat Punto
Fiat also chose to give the sharply styled Fiat Punto a facelift, replacing the attractive sloping bonnet, no grille, and small lights,
with an imitation Volkswagen square grille and big round headlights. Another step backwards.
A retrograde facelift was also the removal of the Maserati 3200's hockey stick backlights, 'modernising' them with US friendly,
big normal lights for the 4200.
Subaru, from fierce and efficient to timid and surprised
Hyundai, from sharp and simple to surprised and confused
Jolly hockey sticks!
Just plain boring
Mazda, from lithe and athletic...
.....to overfed and dumpy.
Which leads us to one of the most attractive facelift exercises of any car, yes, the Lancia Delta!
What started as a compact 5 door family hatchback in 1979, evolved into the cars we know and love. The first generation cars were of course designed by Georgetto Giugiaro, with some pre-production styling tweaks by Fiat.
The Delta was a small, neat, well proportioned car, with a simple side form, round wheel arches, and a generous glass area. Square headlamps incorporating winkers and a simple Lancia oblong grille completed the front.
1982 brought the car's first facelift, the Delta was the world's first car to have body coloured moulded bumpers, the 1982 facelift had a 1 piece, more wrap-around appearance to the bumpers, which incorporated a front lower air dam underneath. Lower profile tyres and a body coloured tail panel completed the refresh.
CDNews don't condemn all facelifts, but a good refresh should improve a car.
The Delta HF facelift was next, with prominent plastic air vents for the heater inlet, and Chromadora alloy wheels. The post 1986 Delta HF Turbo continued with under bumper spotlights and
front bumper air vents.
All these changes enhanced the Delta's efficient original styling. 1984 saw the HF FWD with bonnet vents, flush heater air vents, black tailgate trim and a side skirt. New paint colours were introduced, and twin exhaust pipes.
In 1987, the integrale was revealed, this was the car that introduced the box arches to cover the car's wider track, 4 unequal sized headlamps in a black vented surround, with the winkers mounted in the new, wider bumper. A full width vent in the lower bumper incorporated spot lights, a wider side skirt and body coloured mirrors completed the refresh.
Lancia Delta HF FWD
Lancia Delta integrale 16v, bulgy bonnet with more vents, wider wheels.
Lancia Delta integrale 8v, the first of the integrale series.
Featured wrap around bumper rubbers, box arches, body coloured mirrors,
front bonnet vent, dark wheels...& more!
The Evo1 facelift included even wider wheel arches with a front 'vent', also longer arch swages on a new 1 piece rear door, no rubber on the restyled bumpers, with new bumper vents and a wrap around front winker. The bulgier 16v bonnet was used with extra front corner vents, smaller equal sized headlights were fitted. A body coloured side skirt, single exhaust outlet, rear roofline wind deflector, body colour number plate box at the rear, and multi spoke wheels completed the new look.
These changes were mostly made to accommodate the Delta's mechanical improvements.
The Evo2's facelift changes were mainly larger wheels and badging, with an improved interior.
So, as far as facelifts go, the Lancia Delta has been very successful. Over 15 years the Delta's original Giugiaro 2 box, crisp design has remained the basis for a series of successful facelifts, which have only ever improved our favourite car.
Before you go, I invite you to consider the difficulties a car designer has in facelifting. Take the BMW 1 series,
how do you improve a car that is basically unattractive? Below are 1 series facelifts to the present, have they succeeded?