1949 Lancia Aprilia
Year of manufacture1949
1949 Lancia Aprilia Pillarless Saloon
Registration no. YWG 953
Chassis no. 43829091
Engine no. 30899
The modestly sized Aprilia was Vincenzo Lancia's final masterpiece. The First Series, Tipo 238, which made its debut in 1937, was a fresh design from the ground up, featuring an aerodynamic body shape, seating for up to five, pillarless construction for easy access, great torsional strength, an improved version of the sliding pillar independent front suspension, independent rear suspension by a transverse leaf spring, trailing arms and torsion bars and a very compact V4 1350 cc engine with hemispherical combustion chambers and hydraulic brakes, inboard at the rear. To make the engine compartment as small as possible and reduce frontal area, the dynamo and the rod operated fuel pump were mounted through the radiator, set in the cold air stream ! Weight was a mere 880 kgs and top speed 130kph with sparkling acceleration. After a first test drive of the car back to Turin from Bologna, Vincenzo Lancia, still a racing driver at heart, threw up his hands and exclaimed " What a fantastic car ! "
The Second Series, Tipo 438, produced from 1939 to 1949 had 12 volt electrics, an engine increased to 1486 cc, and minor detail improvements including a better fascia lay- out. The Aprilia quickly became the choice of professional racing drivers for daily transport and dominated its class in hill climbs and road races, including the Mille Miglia. In the Second World War, the Italian partisans used Aprilias as their nimble transport in the mountains and draped their cars' roofs with Union Jacks to guide Allied aircraft and make sure that bombs were not dropped on the wrong side.
This late Second Series Aprilia has an intriguing history and a rare and desirable specification. Anthony MacLean had previously sold an Aprilia to a member of the Lancia family in the 1990s, then tried unsuccessfully to buy it back. The Lancia family member contacted Anthony several years later to say that he had discovered in Turin a totally original Aprilia, given to its lady first owner as a 21st birthday present; the lady kept it until her death when her heirs put the little car into storage. The car was repainted in its original Lancia blue with grey Lancia wool cloth upholstery. Anthony had the car overhauled throughout mechanically by the skilled Fiat retired mechanic who looked after the fearsome Edwardian Fiat racing car, Mephistopheles.
The car is complete in all its charming original details, including the silk rear window blind, the thermostatically operated radiator shutters, the push button fuel gauge which lights up to show the number of remaining litres, the semaphore trafficators, the two rear lights above the rear number plate reading " Lancia " and "Aprilia " the period two tone floor over-mats made from recycled inner tubes, the delicate aluminium bumpers, the woven cord hand grips and the original tool kit. The engine benefits from the very rare and desirable period Nardi twin Solex carburettor modification which significantly improves power and torque.
This is a nimble and very usable time warp car.