1954 Lancia D50A Grand Prix Single Seater
This magnificent Lancia D50A Grand Prix racing car is one of four reconstructions built in Italy and England by Guido Rosani and Jim Stokes Workshops Limited. This particular car has been carefully developed to be competitive and completely reliable, running either on petrol or methanol mixture. The car has been widely admired and seen participating in the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Goodwood Revival and the Ollon-Villars Hillclimb. In the Goodwood Revival it has regularly finished in front of all other front-engined Grand Prix cars of the same age.
The Lancia D50 was a revolutionary design, conceived and developed by the legendary Vittorio Jano, responsible for the pre-war Alfa Romeo 1750 and 8C cars. The D50 was rivalled in its period for speed and handling only by the Mercedes Benz W196; the story is well told in Chris Nixon’s book 'Rivals'.
The D50 featured a host of entirely new features – a four cam, V8, twin plug, dry sump engine which acted as a stressed number and carrier for the front suspension, an angled propeller shaft to place the driver as low as possible and improve aerodynamic efficiency, a five-speed transaxle gear box and, most noticeably of all, twin outboard fuel tanks mounted between the wheels to improve weight distribution and to smooth the air flow. The car had a genuine 240bhp and weighed only 650kgs.
The D50 was a sensation on its first outing at Barcelona in 1954 where Ascari placed it on pole. The 1955 season was plagued by minor teething problems and the car lived in the shadow of the Mercedes Benz W196 despite a string of pole starts by Ascari (Turin, Pau, Naples and Monaco), Castellotti (Spa) and Hawthorn (Oulton Park) and second place by Castellotti at Monaco. Disheartened by the death of Ascari and on the verge of bankruptcy from the no-costs barred racing programme, Lancia handed the cars over to Ferrari who in 1956 won the world championships (Fangio) with the modified Lancia-Ferrari.
The story of the painstaking seven-year reconstruction of the D50s by Guido Rosani and the present owner has been widely recounted in Classic & Sports Car, MotorSport and Cars for the Connoisseur. The four D50As have been built exactly to the original drawings, using surviving original engines and transaxles and some other parts. Every component not available was recreated precisely to the original drawings – even the delicate instruments were crafted by the same small firm in Turin who supplied the originals in the 1950s. Lancia joined in by making their surviving museum car available to check detail and measurements. The superb accuracy, fit and finish of the reconstructions was recognised by the award to Guido Rosani and Jim Stokes jointly of UK Restorer of the Year. This magnificent Grand Prix car will give equal pleasure to its new owner on the track and as a piece of pure automotive art in the garage or drawing room.