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Nardi and Lancia

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Enrico Nardi was an interesting man. He had many skills, among them, he was a tuner of performance cars, and later a manufacturer of wooden steering wheels. Post WW2, he set up shop as  a purveyor of modifications to make your car go faster. From about 1948 through the 1960’s, he had his own shop, offering modifications to Lancias and other cars. He also offered his own race car (ND 750), and made a few specialized one-offs in the 1950’s, such as the two Lancia Blue-Rays among others.

Before he became mostly known for his wooden wheels, his work was mostly providing carburetor kits and other hotter setups for many post-war cars. For Lancias, he offered these kits for Aprilias, Ardeas, and Aurelias. He also tuned Appias, and later Flaminias and Flavias. 

For the Aurelias, Nardi offered performance modifications for the different motors, including additional carburetor configurations. These varied over the years, as he offered a conversion  for 6 single barrel dell’Orto carbs, and also a more moderate  two double barrel Solexes (on the B10 and 2 liter motors). By the time of the 2.5 liter motor, Nardi offered the setup most widely known of two double barrel Webers, as referenced in the price list above from 1955.

These conversions included the manifold setup (from one to three castings, depending), probably the carburetors and linkage, and the air intake, typically cast aluminum on the Lancias.

He may well have offered other modifications – it is rumored he offered thinner gaskets, altho he may have cut the heads instead. Early promotional literature for Nardi (c. 1951-1952) shows different levels of modification, depending on the compression, but it isn’t clear how that was achieved. He also offered his special Nardi cam, which he probably installed for you at his shop. 

Documentation is very hard to find.  There is a complete brochure on Nardi modifications offered for Appias, but the Aurelia information is much scarcer. But images from his promotional literature can be seen here.

Wikipedia (if it is to be trusted) gives us the following facts on his career:

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The relationship of Nardi to the factory remains of interest.. Was he just a tuner, friend of the factory? Or was there a closer interaction – perhaps Nardi acted as an “out of house” tuning consultant? The references in Wikipedia are curious: Nardi as employee of the factory, and then “advisor” to Vincenzo? One wonders what a 29 year old Enrico was telling Vincenzo at the latest in 1936? Perhaps: “Faster, please?”

While the facts lie in the past, some parts we can try to piece together. two places to look – first, the 4C Aurelia manifold. In Wim Oude Weernink’s La Lancia, he makes reference to a 4C Aurelia manifold. In the early first edition, there is a photo of it, and it is noted that it was used by both factory competition use, and later by Nardi in his aborted Lancia F2 car. A careful look at an image of the Nardi F2 car confirms its use. This manifold was special, having the four single barrels Webers similar to those used on the Aurelia, but they can be seen with their slightly different base, using probably the 32 DR 8 SP used on Fiats. These were probably selected to make them fit, very similar as used on Aurelias. A peek at an image of the Nardi F2 car confirms the same setup. While there may have been more than one, clearly, there is friendly communication between Nardi and factory race effort.

One other place to look for collaboration- in the small Nardi book put out some years ago, there is reference to Nardi modifications to the B20 car of Bracco in the 1951 MM. Lancia folklore has always suggested that the car was not seriously modified, but closer to stock. Which was correct?

A photo of the engine in Ippocampo’s sixth place car from the MM shows use of the two Solex setup;  de Virgilio’s notes reference use of a Nardi manifold on Bracco’s motor. Even then, Nardi was providing manifolds to the factory. One tends to think the relationship was pretty close then for the factory to use a Nardi manifold. Perhaps others who know more of this would be willing to comment?

Finally, a return to the book, La Lancia, by Wim de Weernink, now in three editions. Most of this is covered in this book, and so far, always correctly. One must express thanks to Wim for his impeccable research done so many years ago. Even today, his work shows us where to go and look, and sets high standards that remain hard to meet.

Written by Geoff

December 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Aurelia

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