One of the most gifted automobile engineers of all time, Vincenzo Lancia founded his own company in 1906, having previously been in FIAT's employ as chief test driver. Introduced in 1907, the first Lancia car showed an independence of thought and defiance of convention that would remain associated with the marque well into the modern era. Military vehicles, lorries, vans and aero engines followed, the latter enabling Lancia to accrue valuable expertise in the design and construction of 'V'-configuration power plants.
Apart from a solitary six-cylinder model, the relatively unsuccessful Dialfa of 1908/1909, all early Lancias had four-cylinder engines and were only supplied in chassis form, there being no in-house coachworks at this time. Lancia's very first offering, the 18/24hp Alfa, embodied the principles that its maker had come to consider essential: low weight, a high-revving engine, shaft drive, a pressed steel front axle and worm-and-screw steering. New models were introduced on almost a yearly basis all named after letters of the Greek alphabet and production increased sufficiently for Lancia to move to larger premises in via Monginevro, Turin in 1911.
Lancia's first V-engined model - the V8 Trikappa sports car - appeared in 1922 but it was the Lambda, launched soon after, that would prove to be of even greater significance. A milestone in automotive history, the revolutionary Lambda was the world's first car to have a stress-bearing body and the first to be powered by a V4 engine. The absence of a separate chassis meant the driver could sit lower, enabling a low aerodynamic body line to be achieved, while Lancia's patented sliding-pillar independent front suspension endowed the Lambda with ride and handling qualities unmatched by anything in its class. The engine, an overhead-camshaft unit of 2,120cc, was progressively enlarged, arriving at its final 2,570cc, 68bhp configuration in 1928. Production of the Lambda lasted from 1923 to 1931 in nine series.
This particular Lambda is one of the very rare 4th Series (850 produced). In Lancia blue it is a desirable short chassis variant carrying small-door torpedo coachwork, and has the angled windscreen lacking in other models, making it look far more attractive. It also has the aluminium dashboard - a really nice feature compared to the smooth painted type on other models - complete with original instruments including a Jaeger clock and Le Nivex fuel gauge. This is the actual car featured on the Wikipedia Lancia Lambda page, illustrating the 1925 4th Series.
Originally registered in London as 'XY 2177', this Lambda was in the hands of VSCC member Mr Antrobus of Bath for a remarkable 43 years. In October 1997 the car was offered for sale at Brooks' Earls Court auction (Lot 377), though the buyer is not known. The previous Swedish owner purchased the Lambda at a UK auction in 2000 and the car then underwent a total restoration by marque specialists Sheldt & Pettet of Harrow, Middlesex with no expense spared. Eligible for many vintage and classic rallies, there is a full photographic record of the restoration on file together with numerous expired MoT certificates, a V5C registration document and a substantial quantity of invoices dating back to the early 1970s.
This car formed part of a prominent Scandinavian collection for the next 14 years. Its previous owner was the proprietor of the largest privately owned company in Sweden, which also owned 50% of Volvo at one time; his collection contained some of the finest cars ever made. He searched worldwide for a 4th Series small-door Lambda before finding this one, which he had fitted with a Volvo M40 four-speed gearbox and conventional clutch for ease of use on rallies. The original three-speed gearbox and clutch are included in the sale should the new owner wish to return the car to factory specification, and it also comes with half and full tonneau covers, rear hood cover and side screens, all in perfect condition. There have been no other changes to original specification.
A wonderful opportunity to acquire a rare variant of one of the most outstanding automotive designs of all time.