How do you sell a premium supermini designed by the same guy who did the DeTomaso Pantera one year after the world realized Judgement Day is upon us? Fiat went with a Marilyn Monroe wannabe sexbot, of course.

The Autobianchi Y10 was the brand’s sixth model and the last car developed by the team before Fiat pulled the plug and rebadged all export cars as Lancias in 1989. By 1995 it ditching the brand altogether when the Y10’s production ended.

Autobianchis were always the more upscale versions of Fiat’s compact cars, and the Y10 was no exception. It featured a Kammback design and a tailgate painted in black satin, regardless of the body color. It was fast enough thanks to its superb drag coefficient, handled nicely with MacPherson struts up front, and on the inside, it was way more luxurious and futuristic than a Panda, the clever economy car it was based on.

But despite offering more than any supermini before, sales didn’t take off due to its relatively high price tag. Fiat needed to convince people that the Y10 is the urban warrior of the future. Since the standard five-speed gearbox wasn’t enough, so came Donna Robot.

They made a pretty strong case for it:


Fast forward to 1995. A decade, two facelifts and countless special editions later, the Autobianchi Y10 – or Lancia to most – met its end after 1,133,774 units were made in four different Fiat Group factories in Italy.

Even I own one at the moment, although of course it doesn’t run.

The Y10’s successor, the Lancia Y kept going until 2003 and sold 802.605 units without getting any help from Fiat’s friendly terminator.

Looking back now, Tom Tjaarda has done this so right!

Photo credit: Fiat

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