LanciaInfo Blog

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Borgeson, Lincolns, and friendship

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Car friends are good friends. Most are loyal, they share similar interests, which is not so much the cars themselves, but for the insights gained. Our fondness for complicated industrial products that move and make noise allows us to see the world and find treasures in ways and places we wouldn’t normally look. And surprises happen.

Many years ago, the famed historian Griff Borgeson wrote of his student years in the Bay area and of a very special set of friends he had at the time. Its one of my favorite pieces, and for those of you published Thoroughbred and Classic Cars in 1979.

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Griff Borgeson inspecting FWD Miller in NYC upon its return from France.

 

Written by Geoff

July 25, 2017 at 9:01 pm

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It doesn’t get any….

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…. better or worse.

Not sure, but it sure is funny:

Elsa Martinelli and a 1.2 HF

The things they threw out windows, anything to beat Porsche.

Written by Geoff

July 21, 2017 at 1:09 am

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new life for the Appia

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Recent improvement on the Appia – Gianni (mechanic and friend at Autosprint in Chicago) checked the compression and this 58 year old motor still had 140psi in all the cylinders. So with that in mind, he took the carb apart, and started measuring the jets. Found them reduced in size from years of crud so he bore them out to the correct original size. Sounds simple enough – but oh, what a change.

The car has new life. What used to be calm…. put your foot to the floor.. and wait, has now changed. There is (if 43hp can count for HP) power now, and the car has a nimbleness and a little bit of oomph. Its a whole new car, absolutely delightful. Passing folks at highway speeds,  up to an indicated 85 without even trying hard.

Moral of the story: keep looking. Horses are there to be found.

Written by Geoff

July 9, 2017 at 11:04 pm

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D25 in motion

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Recently released from FCA is this video on the D25 and one of Ascari’s family members.

The D25 is not well known – it was a V6 Lancia sports racing car designed in 1954 to  improve on the already successful D24. Made in 1954 around the desires of Ascari and Gianni Lancia, the car was shelved when Ascari died in 1955, and the racing program closed. Its 3,750cc DOHC V6 featured two distributors and 305hp. The car has rarely (if ever) been seen or heard in motion. But what a wonderful car….

Notice the radiator top hoses going through the front chassis tube. They just couldn’t stop themselves….

Written by Geoff

June 29, 2017 at 2:29 pm

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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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