LanciaInfo Blog

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New Aurelia website

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Just published: www.lanciaaurelia.info

Take a look – there is a lot of information on the site. Its likely to replace www.Lanciainfo.com as the main web portal, as the older site is very difficult to update.

Probably will keep this blog, tho, with its many good posts here.

Have fun,

Geoff

Written by Geoff

June 8, 2017 at 2:28 am

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D50 at Lime Rock

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From September. Nice sounds!

Written by Geoff

March 18, 2017 at 1:25 am

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Last copies

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Only about 20 copies of Lancia and De Virgilio, At the Center remain available from the publisher, with no plans at this time for a reprint….If interested, reach them directly at: David Bull Publishing.

Written by Geoff

October 29, 2016 at 11:10 am

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2500 miles

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Lancia reunion at Lime Rock, my B20 meets two D50s, rare and unusual members of the family.

 

How far will a 64 year old car go? As far as you want.

At least that’s my feeling. After restoring my 1952 B20 in 2008-2011, and having to fix a bunch of things since (motor, etc.), the car has decidedly become more friendly. So it was time to revisit youth and take it to the east coast. Its a trip I like to do about every 10 years.

The occasion was the running of two D50s at the Lime Rock Vintage Festival, on Labor Day weekend (early September). I used to go to visit friends with a house nearby, and they would toss me the keys to the Ducati F1, urging me to give it exercise. Now, four wheels were in order.

Disaster struck just before leaving: a diagnosis of broken clutch forks on Thursday, just 5 days before a planned departure, put the whole trip in the “no way” pile. But the Italian network works well when it wants, and from my mechanic friend Gianni D’Avola (Autosprint, in Chicago) to Enrico at Cavalitto, and parts were on their way Friday eve, and arrived Monday. Mike Kristick added a throwout bearing in quick time, and by Tuesday afternoon, the car was ready to go. Wow.

I left that night, to get out of Chicago heat without traffic, drove to the Ohio border, and stayed in a stately 1920s hotel that had seen better times, but was full of charm. Next day across Ohio to Rt. 6 in Pennsylvania, and spent the third day on that two lane road across the state, and ultimately up through NY to Connecticut, to meet my wife and son who joined me there.

The track at Lime Rock is an older smaller track, and is full of charm. The scenery is wonderful, and everyone was attentive to the D50s. There were other cars of interest there – an Osca MT4, several wonderful 1950s Ferraris, a 1936 Maserati GP car, 8C Alfa and 6C, and an Aston Zagato. Santo Spadaro brought his very original B10 up, and a drive in that renews faith in Lancia berlinas! Not to mention the 50cc Maserati motorcycle! The weather was hot, but the cars ran well.

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The Revs D50 with John Morton getting into to drive

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Revs’ D50 on the track

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Peter Giddings in his D50, passing the Bugatti

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A D50, 8C Alfa, a 1936 Maserati GP car, and another D50 in the rear

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a star – the Osca MT4, just stunning.

From there, a visit to the Steermans in NY, old Lancistas, and then to Storm King (a sculpture park). Went along Delaware Water Gap to Philadelphia, for a brief visit to the Radnor Hunt Concours the next weekend. Obligations meant only Friday and Saturday visit, but got to see a lovely 1.3HF, B24 Spider, Convertible and Aprilia Barchetta. Also met a man with a s.4 B20, lovely shape!

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Mike Kristick and Mark Wolf by the Fulvia 1.3HF at Radnor Hunt on Saturday AM.

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beautiful Aprilia barchetta

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Dilambda living on Long Island – “I drive it every weekend”

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Fulvia Sport took off, rolled down the hill, over a small stone fence. Rescued without damage, luckily!

The drive home began along Rt. 30, the Lincoln Highway, with a stop at Gettysburg to see the field of Pickett’s Charge. Very sad and moving. Heard a very impressive explanation by a Colonel in the War College, who lived nearby, of the battle in full detail. Newfound respect for these very thoughtful people.

A poor hotel experience led to the decision to drive home through the night, napping at rest stops. Avoid traffic that way, and you get to run the B20 without concerns!

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heading home in the middle of the night. Not so many people are awake then.

Troubles? Practically none. The one flat tire was found in the morning in a hotel parking lot, saving the tire, with lots of space to unpack and change it. The glovebox lock failed. That was it.The car used 1/2 qt of oil, some water, mileage was typically 25mpg, and it never overheated. Vapor lock in the 90-95º weather was an issue if stopped, but with the electric pump on, the car stumbled to about 30mph, and then would get up and go. The heat was hard when stopped, but not an issue while moving, the Italians being very savvy about flow-through air. Open the windows a few inches for ventilation, ear plugs for noise, headphones for music, and its practically modern travel.

It was fun, it worked out well, and the car is a delight to drive. Get it on those windy twisty roads tucked away in Connecticut or Pennsylvania, and the car is just bliss. No front or rear weight, it handles as you want. Like driving on a string, all of 2500 miles.

 

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what is the speed limit?










Written by Geoff

September 14, 2016 at 10:14 pm

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1955 Belgian Grand Prix – Lancia and Castellotti

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From Youtube, a wonderful video of the Belgian Grand Prix, June 5, 1955. The race is dominated by Fangio and Sterling Moss, but the pole was won by Lancia.

Even though 1955 was a crisis year for Lancia, as  Jano resigned, Gianni left for America, and the race team was officially closed on June 1, Lancia nevertheless sent one car up to the Belgian Grand Prix with Castellotti. The film comment is that Castellotti brought his own entry, so perhaps it was privately  sponsored?

Having never run on the track, Castellotti in the Lancia takes the pole (!) and runs for 17 of 36 laps behind the winning Fangio and Sterling Moss in their Mercedes. Midway through the race, the Lancia is out due to gearbox trouble, later listed as crown wheel and pinion problems.

The film is full of  period imagery, and sensitive photography. Delightfully relaxed, and politically incorrect, the narrative is of an era gone by, with  simplicity, danger, and perhaps even a touch of snobbery… but all good fun.The images are striking and its really good footage and great scenery when policeman were protected by straw bales, kids played nearby, the pits were just a shoulder’s width from the racing. There is a dog on the track, and drivers and their girlfriends had tea by the track, served on china.

Some screen shots below.

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Castellotti before the race.

 

Castelotti getting into his Lancia at the start of the race, lancia on the pole

Castellotti getting into his Lancia on the right at the start of the race, car on the pole

 

Castellotti at speed

the Lancia at speed

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bringing the car from the garage to the pits before the race

 

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team mechanics working on the car before the race.

Jano in the garage

Jano in the garage

 

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Jano…

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gearbox trouble, the car out of the race. They all look slightly relaxed.

Written by Geoff

August 8, 2016 at 3:50 am

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Appia to Detroit

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Campion's cars - the Fulvia HF, etc.

Lancia’s rally cars in Detroit

Lancias were a featured class this year at the 2016 Concours d’Elegance of America, in Plymouth Michigan. This event, held in the end of July,  used to be known at the Meadowbrook Concours, one of the largest and most prestigious in the US, which has been on the national radar, along with Pebble Beach, and Amelia Island.

Typically featuring large American cars, often from the 1920s and 1930s, over the years the event has become more diverse and more interesting. This year, there was a group of Lancias, including two Aurelias, a Stratos, a Delta, an absolutely lovely Beta, which was joined by our all-original, unrestored Appia. The highlight of the group was a custom bodied Belna, the Lancia Augusta made in France in the 1930s. The body featured a demountable hardtop, and the car, with its ostrich leather interior, was just stunning, and won not only a class prize, but one for best Italian car in the show.

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stunning 1930s Belna, with very nice owner, Donald Bernstein from Pennsylvania

There was also a class of rally cars, largely led by John Campion from Florida, a nice guy and very much a Lancia rally enthusiast, as he brought his Stratos, Fulvia, 037, and Delta. Nice cars, all.

Campion on the left, with his 037 at 8 AM

Campion on the left, with his 037 at 8 AM

Appia on the field

Appia on the field

The concours was quite the event. Some magnificent machinery, most interesting was a lovely Isotta Fraschini, a number of period American cars (Auburns were in abundance) and a lovely GM Riviera from the 1960s, one of Mitchell’s best.There was a seminar on Saturday AM, with the heads of Design for Ford, GM and Fiat/Chrysler all speaking informally together. I don’t think such an event has ever happened in the industry before – and their graciousness to each other was quite striking. There was much discussion about how design works in a large corporate environment, with their staffs varying from 900 to 2700 people, typically spread about in 5 countries. I had a wee chat with Ralph Gilles, head of FCA about Lancia, and he shared the fact that there are those in the company still passionate about our favorite brand.

Saturday included a show of Fiat and Lancias, largely 1970s and later, a display which struggled under very heavy rains in the morning. But by late afternoon, the sun came out, and some of the pretty cars were shiny on display. Some had driven their Lancias from Toronto or New York, and in a classic case of missing information, were returning that evening, not knowing about the Concours with Lancias the next day at the same place. There was a nice Flavia, a gorgeous Fiat Ghia coupe (which they should have made many, not just some 300…). I ran into Mark Everett from New York, still upset he hadn’t bought my Stratos in 1985, an event he remembered well some 30 years later.

Sunday’s field with Lancias included three generations of Bonifaces, with their Aurelia B24 (a class winner). Ray Bonifaces told stories of being in Italy in 1950-51, and the joy that the Lancia Aurelia (in the Mille Miglia) brought to the people, depressed and downtrodden after the war. Quite striking memories.

The Appia was driven up from the Chicago area to the event, and returned on Sunday night to a home in Indiana, ran without flaws. The brakes need a bit of attention, from lack of use, but all was well and the car a delight. It was a long trip – especially in the summer heat, and using only back roads, but finding dinner on Sunday at a restaurant by a river setting was a touch of serenity on a lovely weekend.

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Jonathan Stein moderating Michael Simcoe, Moray Callum, Ralph Gilles, heads of GM, Ford and FCA design groups.

 

Flavia at Fiat gathering on Saturday

Flavia at Fiat gathering on Saturday

found off on the side, not ready for the Concours yet.

found off on the side, not ready for the Concours yet.

Fiat 1500 with special Ghia body, c. 1965

Fiat 1500 with special Ghia body, c. 1965

Lovely

Lovely French Talbot

Stratos opened up

Stratos opened up

A bunch of GT40s - this is Detroit, after all!

A bunch of GT40s – this is Detroit, after all!

Fulvia 1.6HF

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Isotta Fraschini, Michael Simcoe, head of GM Design on the right

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American prototype, 16 cyl., 20′ long!

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dinner spot in Michigan on the way home

Written by Geoff

August 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm

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Aurelia wheels – that center color

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The general understanding is that the Aurelia wheels (like all Lancia wheels) were cream-colored in the center, and the outer part of the wheel was body-colored.  Different versions and opinions exist on the cream color paint – several are listed here – if you search under “wheel” in the blog. There are different formulas and paint samples, varying by country, so hopefully you can find a paint color for your car.
Not all Aurelia images show cream color centers for their wheels. A trip through the history reveals some variations, so here we go….
1.  This is the B10 in the original promo photo by Moisio (the factory photographer). Seems like dark rims, with cream used for the centers. All is OK. 
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2. Same idea  in this B22 promo shot – dark rims and cream colored interior sections.
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3. This is a shot of a B10 wheel at the car’s introduction in 1950 at Bolzano. Two color, like above, but doesn’t look like cream in the center, but it could be…
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4.  An s.1 B20, from the homologation papers, has dark wheels. They seem lighter than body color.
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5. Here is a  B15 at 1952 Salone has dark wheels, possibly with cream centers, and different wheels.
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6. Promotional literature for the s.3 B20 features dark rims and chrome beauty rings, no cream. But its just an illustration…
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7. Here is Gianni standing by a unique B20, with special wheel covers. Notice the shark-tooth air opening!
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8. Three views from the Giro di Toscana in 1951 – each one with different wheel colors.
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1951_06_03 Giro di Toscana Grolla Bassi Nicolitch
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9. Perhaps the definitive view in color: a rare color photo of the 1952 Corsa at Le Mans. This has cream centers and body colored outer rims (the full image is in the book!).
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Written by Geoff

March 5, 2016 at 1:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Nuvolari and the Augustas

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Nuvolari Augusta

Nuvolari and his Augusta

The other night at a holiday party,  David Cooper, a car restorer of rather interesting tastes here in Chicago, and I were chatting about old cars. He tends to the esoteric, restoring 6C Alfa 2500s, Delahayes, and even Tatras, not to mention his bread-and-butter Land Rovers. He also hosts events of interest here in town. We get to discussing pre-war Lancias and he begins “Let me tell you a story Rene Dreyfus told me about Nuvolari and the Augustas…..”   as follows:

“In 1935 Rene was hired by the Enzo Ferrari to drive for Scuderia Ferrari, the private team campaigning Alfa Romeos. Rene’s friend Louis Chiron was on the team, as was Tonino Brivio. Tazio Nuvolari was team captain. The drivers discussed who was really the best driver. Nuvolari suggested that all the drivers buy matching new Lancia Augustas and race from the center of Milan near the Duomo to the hunting lodge in the outskirts of Milan where the team meetings were held.
And Nuvolari always won. The others knew he was doing something to get ahead of them in the twisting roads in the woods. So Chiron claimed he was ill and could not make the next meeting. He hid on a hill in the woods to watch Nuvolari come through. Nuvolari approaches the curve, tosses out the rear end, touches the curb to stop the spin and stabilize the car and shoots off. Chiron tells the others, so the next time, they all do the same. Dreyfus, chasing Nuvolari as closely as possible, goes, does the same turns, and clips the curb, breaks the axle on the Lancia, and the car is by the side of the road. Next comes Chiron and then Brivio, and they too clip the same curb, and there are the three Augustas, all by the side of the road. 
Nuvolari is long gone. All agree he is the fastest.”
The stories told late at night. Warms the heart.

Written by Geoff

December 29, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Rosani and the D50s

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Guido Rosani in Torino

Guido Rosani is a designer, fabricator and mechanical wizard in Torino, long of the Lancia world. His father, Nino Rosani, worked at Lancia and  became the architect for the company, and was involved in many of the company’s showrooms and facilities. Nino Rosani was, with Gio Ponti, the designer of the Lancia grattacielo, and was also on the board at Lancia. While a young child, Guido was able to visit the drafting rooms of the racing team, and is quite possibly, the last link with the magic of Lancia’s 1950s racing efforts.

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D50 in Rosani’s shop, all done

 

With the help of Anthony Maclean, Rosani was able to build several  D24s and D50s in the past two decades. These used original (and sourced) engines, with much else found or fabricated in accord with the works drawings which Rosani had access to. These cars remain difficult for the car world to classify, as they are more than replicas, in one sense “continuations” as close to the original fabric as possible. Detailed and meticulous care was taken in their manufacture, as Rosani once told me that even the myriad baffle system inside the gas tanks (with hundreds of rivets) was redone when the cars were made – attention pain in areas where no one would ever know.

In 2002 one of the D50s came up for sale, and Doug Nye posted on The Nostalgia Forum a history of the D50 recreation effort, with ample quoting from the Auction catalog text. For sharing knowledge, that writeup is here provided – with credit due of course to Mr. Nye –

Posted 16 August 2002 – 20:00 by Doug Nye (his text in italics, auction text follows, probably by Nye): 

“Look, the D50 ® cars are presently as follows:
Robin Lodge has the first
A private collector has the second
Tom Wheatcroft and The Donington Collection have the third
The fourth is coming up for auction at the Goodwood Revival Meeting
A fifth is on the way and I’m not certain without double-checking whether that is going to be completed to Lancia-Ferrari trim, or whether it’s a sixth that’s going to be in that form. One is certainly being built with the merged-in ‘side tank’ Ferrari bodywork etc.For anyone with ambitions to own one of these wunnerful things – at a fraction of the potential price of the only two surviving (unattainable) real cars – this is the auction catalogue text. Please forgive the flowery hardsell old cobblers…
“1955-type LANCIA D50
FORMULA 1 RACING SINGLE-SEATER
Chassis No: 0001( R ) Engine No: 13The legendary ‘side-tanked’ Lancia D50 was by some margin the smallest and fastest front-running Formula 1 car of its era in 1954-55, and was the only one whose potential performance was genuinely feared by the dominant force of those days – the World Champion Mercedes-Benz factory team. Former double World Champion Driver Alberto Ascari drove the D50 to pole position upon its debut in the 1954 Spanish Grand Prix – the last Championship-qualifying round of that season – at Pedralbes, Barcelona, and early in the non-Championship Formula 1 racing calendar of 1955 he won both the Turin and Naples GPs in splendid style.

One of the world’s oldest car manufacturers, Lancia always made cars for the connoisseur. The Lambda and Aprilia production models were among the most technically advanced cars of their day. Then in 1951 an almost standard 2-litre Lancia Aurelia Coupe finished a shattering 2nd overall in the Mille Miglia, beaten only by Villoresi’s mighty 4.1-litre Ferrari (after actually bettering the Ferrari’s times over the 1,000-mile public road course’s numerous mountain passes. This Aurelia model went on to win its class in the Le Mans 24-Hour race, finishing 11th overall.

Full of enthusiasm, the youthful company President, Gianni Lancia, authorised a comprehensive factory racing programme which produced the now immortal Lancia D24 sports-racing design. This spectacular car with flowing Pininfarina body, 4-cam V6-cylinder engine, rear-mounted transaxle gearbox and inboard brakes both front and rear, won the 1953 Carrera PanAmericana classic in Mexico (Fangio, Taruffi and Castellotti 1st, 2nd and 3rd) the Mille Miglia (Ascari) and the Targa Florio (Taruffi).

Against this imposing background, the stage was set for Lancia to enter Grand Prix racing. The Lancia D50 was the most innovative front engined Grand Prix car of the 1950s and arguably also of the previous 30 years. Designed by Ing. Vittorio Jano, legendary creator of the pre-war 8- and 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo racing cars, the compact D50incorporated a host of technical innovations, representing a clean-sheet-of-paper approach to Formula 1 car design which was of quite astonishing purity and elegance.

Its most obvious visual features were the two outrigged pannier fuel tanks slung from the chassis sides between front and rear wheels, not only to provide uniform fore-and-aft weight distribution and balance between full and part-consumed fuel load, but also because aerodynamic studies had indicated to Lancia that such fuel tanks between the wheels would smooth turbulent air flow, and reduce aerodynamic drag.

But there was much else besides. This was the first use in a World Championship racing Formula 1 car of a V8 engine and the first time that such an engine was used as a stressed structural member of the chassis frame. The power unit was mounted in the chassis only via the cylinder heads. It was angled to allow the driver to sit beside instead on top of the propeller shaft, thus lowering his seat to minimise the car’s cross-section and aerodynamic frontal area. Contemporary photographs show the drivers of conventional Ferrari and Maserati Formula 1 cars sitting several inches higher than Ascari, Villoresi, Castellotti and the other Lancia D50 drivers. Not only were these transcendant Grand Prix cars low-slung, they were also short and compact, the smallest of their era apart from the uncompetitive early-style Gordinis.

Transmission was via a 5-speed transaxle with syncromesh on the top 4 gears. Jano’s design team had also envisaged, but never finalised, a sequential gearbox and direct fuel injection. The beautifully finished, stubby little car weighed only 610kg. Delicate detailing abounded throughout, including intricately machined front suspension parts and inboard shock absorbers operated via drilled rocker arms. Every part was studied for lightness and the elegance of the Lancia craftsmen’s work followed the purity of the Jano team’s design. To many the Mercedes- Benz W196, the only true rival to the D50, appeared a more massive design, however masterfully executed.

The D50’s development took many months, before its belated debut at Barcelona in October 1954, but there the new works cars simply stunned rivals and spectators alike with their speed and handling. The Lancias, reported Rodney Walkerley in The Motor were “rockets on wheels”. In the race Ascari simply drove away from the field at the rate of 2 seconds a lap. At the end of the 9th lap, already 20 seconds ahead, Ascari was forced to retire due to oil on the clutch lining from a faulty casting.

On March 27, 1955, Ascari won the Turin Grand Prix with the improved D50A, with the sister team D50As of Villoresi and Castellotti 3rd and 4th. The D50s placed 2nd and 4th at Pau in April, then 1st and 3rd at Naples before confronting the Mercedes on May 22 at Monaco.

Ascari qualified his D50A on the front of the grid, then led momentarily before crashing into Monaco harbour in a cloud of steam. He survived, only to die within days, testing a Ferrari. Castellotti placed 2nd. Disheartened by the loss of their great Champion and exhausted by the effort and cost of their single-minded quest for racing success, Gianni Lancia and his mother Adele were losing control of their company. Castellotti – as a private entry – put the D50A on pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in June but failed to finish.

With Fiat’s intercession, the Lancia Corse racing team was then closed down, and its cars and associated material presented to Ferrari – founding the World Championship-wining Lancia-Ferrari series for 1956. The original Lancia D50-series cars were dismantled and in large part broken up apart from two examples which survived in non-operational, partly incomplete form in Italian museums.

In the early 1990s great Lancia enthusiasts, Guido Rosani, born and bred in Turin and Anthony MacLean, an English lawyer living in Geneva, met and discussed a hugely ambitious project to re-create the D50s. MacLean had successfully campaigned a LanciaD24 sports car re-created in Turin by Rosani and colleagues in Historic events in Mexico, Tasmania, Sicily and throughout Europe. Rosani had a full set of Lancia drawings and much data, including details of the components of every car built, plus test-bed and race data, even including the spidery hand-written report by the Lancia team manager on Ascari’s victory in Turin in 1954.

Time, patience and help from Sir Anthony Bamford – who had preserved some original V8 engines and transaxles bought from Ferrari years before – laid the foundations for this project. Further searches in Italy unearthed more engines including, astonishingly, one complete original unit, still in its Lancia Corse packing case, complete with 1955 dyno tags. The rare missing Solex carburettors and correct Marelli magnetos were tracked down subsequently. No effort was spared to make the cars correct in the smallest detail. Not only the factory drawings and data were employed, but also the surviving complete car which the Lancia museum kindly loaned for inspection and dismantling.

Instruments were re-manufactured by Allemano, the original supplier, exactly to the original design. Wheels were re-made by Borrani to the original pattern. Some original suspension parts were located. The bodies were hand-made in aluminium in Turin by contemporary ex-Lancia craftsmen. The run of five cars to D50A specification today re-unites original engine and transaxle combinations which were first united in 1955, each individual chassis being given the correct original number with ‘R’ suffix to denote ‘reconstruction’.

Attention to detail has been extraordinary, including for example, hand manufacture of each of the delicately drilled and fretted fuel tank/strut brackets – five cars, eight brackets per car, forty in all, each one different to the next…The finished chassis and bodies were shipped to England where surpassing pains were lavished on re-building of engines and transaxles and race preparation of the chassis by Jim Stokes Workshops, well-known for many years for work on Alfa Romeo racing cars including the Alfetta 158, and also on the BRM V16. Only departures from original specification have been invisible and in the interests of either safety or longevity and practicality.

The original engine block proudly carries its Lancia date stamp – ‘11/11/54’ – and as rebuilt it has been dyno-tested to c.235bhp, closely matching the output recorded on an original Lancia test sheet, dated June 24, 1955, just a month before the transfer to Ferrari. The unit’s original originally fragile threaded valve stems have been improved upon, and the units built to offer several seasons’ reliable service without need for a re-build after every race as in 1955. The fuel tanks incorporate modern rubber bags to current FIA specification, while the multi-finned drum brakes now feature twin-circuit actuation. A small roll-over bar has been discreetly built-in. The cars have been track tested and set up by a well known historic racing driver and have been prepared to race – not merely as the beautiful artefacts they also, undeniably, are.

Of the five cars built, one is in the Donington Collection in England, another in a private museum while a third has been extensively raced over the past season. The car offered here is the last produced and is the property of one of the original partners in the project. It participated in this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed and has been invited to take part in the Goodwood Revival Meeting the weekend of this sale. No pains have been spared to incorporate every lesson learned in building the previous cars and to make this car, which has no hours on it at all, apart from careful dyno and track-testing, as near as possible to the new car in which Ascari sat in 1955. It is finished in exactly the correct shade of deep Lancia maroon – rosso granata (?spelling??? DCN) – matching that of the hometown Torinese football club, Juventus.

This is a rare opportunity to own a truly stunning piece of Grand Prix history, ready to race, but also of the most exquisite museum quality in every aspect of its design and execution.”

If you feel so moved ring Bonhams on (44) (0) 207 393 3900 and ask for the Car Department. Tell them Doug sent you…

DCN

 

Written by Geoff

December 27, 2015 at 3:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Castlemaine, Australia

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poster for this year’s rally

Every two years, the Australian Lancia Club hosts a large gathering of cars and people at Castlemaine, a small town north of Melbourne by about 70 miles. While far from Italy, the passion of the Australians is quite strong, and their commitment to Lancia cars is remarkable. The gathering is quite large, this year with some 80 cars, ranging from Lambdas up to Betas, with almost every model represented. For the Lancia fan, it is a unique opportunity to see and learn about the full model lineup from Lambdas on.

It is a tradition of the Castlemaine reunion to invite a Guest of Honor, typically from overseas, to share Lancia lore with this community, and this year, I had the luck to be invited. In years past, they have had some wonderful visitors – Tariff, Villoresi, Gobbato, Sandro Munari, and Stefano Falchetto. In recent years, Angela Verschoor (Flavia book author) and Mike Robinson (head of Lancia Design Center for some time) have spoken.

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Peter Renou giving introduction to Lancia audience in sheep shearing shed.

 

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Geoff giving talk in a crowded shed (photo ©Dishan Marikar, 2015)

While it is a long ways to go, the reception in Australia was quite warm. I stayed with Chris Long, one of the Committee members organizing the event, and we drove up to Castlemaine in his Lambda. There, all was well organized and the rally was held the weekend of October 17-18. I gave a talk on Saturday, which was well attended in a wonderful former sheep-shearing shed. The discussion was lively and the audience enthusiastic, and all went well.

The overall event was a great deal of fun and included visits to old farms, driving tours to wineries, a visit to Robert Bienvenue’s renovated church building (quite lovely), now a wonderful vacation home, and a special car shop in the area.  Castlemaine benefited from a significant gold rush in the mid-1800s, and there is still some significant residual impact from those wonder years. The area is known as the center of Australian automotive hot-rodding, and we visited a shop, Up the Creek, run by Grant Cowie, where there were some extraordinary cars, including a 1914 Delage Grand Prix car, a Talbot Darracq, and numerous parts remade for Lambdas.

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two Lambdas and an Astura

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wonderful Lambda lineup

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Flavias and Fulvias, Lancias everywhere

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lovely B20

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Bill Jamieson checking out the Lambda parts at Up the Creek, with Joachim Griese keeping a watchful eye over his shoulder

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remade Lambda front suspension piece (center), a wonderful fabrication

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a range of Lambda parts available

On Sunday, there was a large gathering of all the Lancia cars on the village green, and we were joined there by other Italian cars, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, and the odd Lambo. Of interest was a man in an Alfa Guilia Super, who makes distributors for the older cars (including Aurelias) using a custom machined housing, but all contemporary Bosch components, including single points. These parts are both economical and readily available. Its worth getting for a spare to have, just drops right in.

Peter Renou generously took me under his wing, and was particularly pleased when I didn’t grind the gears on his Astura, which he kindly let me drive for the afternoon. After that, it was smooth sailing… more to come about the cars driven.

It was a delight to meet the Australian Lancia community, with many new friends, including (in no order) Chris and Anna Long, Peter Renou, Iain and Graeme Simpson, John Doyle (whom I last saw c. 1980 in Torino!), David and Peter Lowe  a structural engineer who worked on Sydney Opera House), Rob Alsop, Marc Bondini, Bill Smith, Alan Hornsby, Paul Vellacott (remarkably at Hershey just the week before at the Awards dinner too!), Bill Jamieson (author of Capolavoro, a remarkably knowledgeable and modest Lambda expert), and Steve Boyle. There were several other Americans at Castlemaine, including Paul and Vicki Tullius, Neil and Elsa Pering, Steve and Lynne Petersen, all veteran Lancista from California, Paul and Lily English (bringing new energy to the fold) and Aurelia newbie, Jeff Hill. Angela Verschoor and several others came from Europe, including Joachim Griese, and John Millham and the Williamsons from England.

Noel Macwhirter brought his wonderful Aprilia and has since posted many great images of the event at Castlemaine 23. Take a look!

Overall, there are now few places for the historically interested Lancia community to gather – Sliding Pillar is one such event, held in Europe or England each year. Perhaps another could be Padova in Italy in the fall. Castlemaine deservedly must be on that list.  The Australian Lancia community is strong and vibrant. They have been thoughtful about passing knowledge from one generation to another, a lesson for all of us to learn. Thanks to them for the invitation and the opportunity to share Lancia stories with them.

Written by Geoff

November 18, 2015 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized