“There is no question about it. What still amazes me is how advanced
they are even now in terms of road-holding, handling and performance, to say
nothing of the extraordinary quality” – Lancia aficionado and
collector Dr Michael Coucher speaking in 1989 of his own Aurelia B24 Spider
The brilliant Aurelia was the model that saved the Lancia name in the
Fifties. In time, the well-engineered car by Vittorio Jano and Gianni Lancia,
with its advanced V6 and transaxle, would earn Lancia a whole new generation of
lifelong friends among the world of motoring’s cognoscenti.
These were people for whom ownership of an Aurelia became a kind of
religion, particularly the B20 GT coupé and Convertible and, most of all, the
B24 Spider America.
The Aurelia B24 Spider America
The Lancia Aurelia B20 coupé
was a landmark model when it was introduced in 1951 and was arguably the
world’s first Gran Turismo. It was a remarkably original and technically
advanced design with wonderful styling by Pinin Farina. It had the first
series-built alloy V6, a single-cam engine mated to a four-speed transaxle in
the rigid, unitary construction body.
The Aurelia Coupé went through two further iterations that saw the
introduction of a 2,451cc version of the V6 before what many consider the
finest 4th series car was introduced in 1954. Underneath the
fastback lay a significant alteration to the rear suspension: a de Dion set-up
with semi-elliptic leaf springs.
The first roadster version of the B20 started life in 1954 on a
shortened (2450mm vs. 2660mm) wheelbase and was known simply as the ‘B24
Spider’. ‘America’ was added later, as the US was clearly Lancia’s target
market for the car.
Like all the best-looking cars, Pinin Farina’s Aurelia B24 Spider was a
mixture of masculinity and femininity in exactly equal measure, curves that
suggest both tense muscle and soft, yielding allure, plus a futuristic
suggestion of a jet fighter’s canopy in its deeply curved screen.
All were built on the chassis of the fourth series of the B20 GT and,
shorter wheelbase aside, were mechanically identical. Due to its light weight
and 118bhp V6 it was the fastest of all the Aurelias, capable of cruising at
90mph and handling well courtesy of the de Dion set-up. Thanks to its oversized
brake drums, it also stopped with alacrity.
In total, just 240 were produced, only in 1955, 59 of which were
right-hand drive. The following year it was replaced by the less sporting and
softer B24 Convertible.
This Motor Car
According to the Lancia Registro Storico Certificate (no. 2515,
28/12/2010) that accompanies the car, chassis B24-1034 was first registered in
1955. Its colour was Grigio (the palest of shades, near-enough white)
with a Rosso leather interior – the configuration in which it is
Research by marque experts has revealed the following chain of
purchased with a bill of sale dated 13 June 1955 from the Sardinian official
concessionaire Lancia Sassari and registered by the Automobile Club d'Italia
Sassari ‘SS 8321’ on 15 June 1955 in the name of Costanza Ronchetti In
Sorcinelli di Luigi. On 17 April 1956 the same owner re-registered the car in
Cagliari, also in Sardinia, ‘CA 19924’.
owner: sold to Dott. Giovanni Manca Di Vittorio, a fellow resident of Cagliari,
on 4 April 1956 for 500,000 lire. Registered ‘CA 19924’.
sold to Tommaso Corsini of Florence on 30 January 1958 for 1,400,000 lire. A
new registration was issued for change of province: ‘FI 105930’, the mark it
bears today. Corsini was a Tuscan prince and member of the Assemblea
Costituente della Repubblica Italiana, the Italian Constituent Assembly
formed post-War and charged with writing the new republic’s constitution.
owner: sold to Valerio Cozzi of Scandicci, Florence, on 2 February 1965 for
sold to Florio Sarti, Florence, on 4 March 1969 for 2,000,000 lire. Sarti was a
familiar sight in Florence. A car parts specialist known as ‘Tarzan’, he used
the Lancia as a summer car in the hotspots of Versilia on the Tuscana coast.
sold to Anna Aliboni (Sarti’s wife), Florence, on 20 September 1995 for
owner: sold to dealer Classic Motor SrL of Milan on 6 November 2001 who kept
the Florence registration.
owner: our client, who bought the car on 15 February 2002.
Having bought the car in 2002, the current owner commissioned a total
restoration that was completed in 2005 with great attention paid to
originality, repainting it from red to its correct and subtle Grigio Lancia.
The Lancia Registro Storico inspected the car in 2010 and issued certificate
no. 2515 on 28 December 2010, noting the 2002-2005 restoration to be “radicale
e rispetta la configurazione originaria” – one that was “radical and
respected the original configuration”.
Liveried in authentic Fifties Lancia colours, ready for immediate
enjoyment and top-tier events including the Mille Miglia Storica, ‘1034’
upholds the marque’s history of fast, well-engineered and responsive sports
cars. Perhaps no automotive design better sums up La Dolce Vita...