1955 Lancia AureliaB24S Spider America
Year of manufacture1955
Car typeConvertible / Roadster
45 years in current ownership, from the collection of a Lancia connoisseur
1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America
Coachwork by Pinin Farina
Chassis no. B24S-1.093 Engine no. B24-1.156 Coachwork no. 009
• From the collection of a respected Lancia enthusiast who has owned the car since 1978
• Believed first delivered to Cuba, presented today in its original specification of Verde with Pelle Verde interior
• Matching chassis, engine and coachwork numbers, a superlative Aurelia B24S Spider America in one of the most evocative colour combinations
• Left-hand drive, with Nardi tuning kit and unused hardtop
• Believed 72,000 miles from new, eligible for world class driving events including the Mille Miglia and the best concours d’elegance
• UK registered
“One of the motor-world’s most honored names…in a fast, two-place sports car! For advanced enthusiasts the ‘Spider’ offers perfection in roadability.
“Full de Dion suspension incorporates brakes, transmission and rear gearbox. Brakes are oversize, inboard and finned; steering is precise and direct. Aluminum body by Farina provides superb driving position and fine finish.
“Write today for literature—or come for a ride.”
US Lancia importer JS Inskip goes the full Madison Avenue on the reverse of a ‘Giant Post Card’ printed to promote its latest exclusive Italian sports car. The advertising material notes a price of $5,325.00 – a Jaguar XK 120 was around $2,500 in the US, while a Cadillac 62 Sedan was $3,977; a top-of-the-line Eldorado Special Convertible $6,000.
The brilliant Aurelia could reasonably be described as the car that saved Lancia in the immediate post-War period. Available in a variety of configurations – Saloon, Coupé, Spider, Convertible, plus a handful of bare chassis for coachbuilding – it served Italy’s industrial rebirth after WW2 well.
The range peaked with the Spider America, thanks to its elegant design by the Torinese master Pinin Farina coupled with the finest engineering by Vittorio Jano and Francesco De Virgilio under Gianni Lancia’s managerial guidance. The era of La Dolce Vita on the Mediterranean coast in the 1950s would have happened without the Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider, but it might not have been quite so stylish.
This example comes from the carefully curated garage of one of the world’s most knowledgeable and passionate Lancisti, who summarised his long relationship with the much-loved open Lancia as follows:
“The Aurelia Spider is the epitome of 1950s style; no surprise that Brigitte Bardot was much photographed riding in one. But beneath the perfect shape is an equally great, wonderfully balanced driving machine.
“Time and again on Alpine rallies, owners of Astons, Maseratis and Ferraris of the same period asked us if we had a special engine and how we could go so much faster than them. The secret is simple: the car is pretty much standard but we don’t have to slow down as much for corners…
“In 45 years and 40,000 miles of touring throughout Europe, England and Scotland, the Spider has never once let me down or failed to start.”
The Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America
The Lancia Aurelia B20 coupé was a remarkably bold and technically advanced design with restrained yet avant garde styling by Pinin Farina. The B20 had the first series-built alloy V6, an overhead cam engine mated to a four-speed transaxle in the rigid, unitary construction body. It was arguably the world’s first Gran Turismo.
The Aurelia Coupé went through two further series that saw the introduction of a 2,451cc version of the V6. Underneath the fastback silhouette 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 (2,450mm vs. 2,660mm) 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. Many were left-hand drive, signified by the ‘S’ (for sinistra) in ‘B24S’.
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 convey both tense muscle and soft, yielding allure, plus a futuristic suggestion of a jet fighter’s canopy in its deeply curved screen emphasised by the rare optional ‘low roof’ hardtop by Fontana.
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.
In total just 240 were produced, 59 of which were right-hand drive. The following year it was replaced by the less sporting and softer B24 Convertible.
This Motor Car
Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America chassis B24S-1.093 was built in May 1955 and ready for delivery on 30 June 1955. It was finished in what has now become one of the model’s most desirable combinations, striking Verde Chiaro – an Eau de Nile green – with a matching Pelle Verde interior.
When researching the car, the current owner was told by a previous one that the Lancia was delivered new to Cuba, corroborated by subsequent early ownership in the hands of a Miami night club owner who financed his purchase with a loan from the local Coconut Grove Bank. For many years it was in the garage of US architect Ivan Trofimov, who sold it to a fellow American in the Midwest. The latter enjoyed the car to the full, recalling that it, “was so stable on the road that you could light a cigarette in it at 120mph.”
The current British owner bought the car from Chicago dealer Bill Knauz Automobiles in June 1978. The Lancia was then silver, with correct Spider-pattern seats trimmed in incorrect vinyl. Other than that, it was very original and included the soft top and tonneau cover – both in white fabric edged in dark green leather – an original Nardi twin Weber engine set-up, the correct jack and wheel brace, and the original detachable side windows in Perspex complete with spring-loaded quarter lights.
The MPH speedometer read 32,000 miles. The other instruments – fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge, rev counter and warning lights – were all in English. It was clearly a US market model from new, like most Aurelia B24 Spiders. Also with the car was the original tiny ignition key with black plastic head, which fitted the lock behind the passenger seat for the luggage area: all indications that it had arrived in unmolested condition but required careful recommissioning and mechanical and cosmetic work.
The car was taken to Zurich Lancia specialists the Klausner brothers who attended to the mechanical issues thrown up by a first drive from the Antwerp docks to Geneva. In the 1990s the engine was rebuilt by Almo Bosato, doyen of Turin Lancia tuners, with new KS slightly higher compression pistons, a Lancia factory competition camshaft and improved exhaust manifolds, which together raised power to a reliable 135bhp and increased torque. Jim Stokes Workshops in England carried out maintenance work to the engine, electrical system and brakes between 2000 and 2006.
In 2002, the car was stripped to bare metal and repainted by The Airport Bodyshop (a subcontractor to Jim Stokes Workshops) in the car’s correct Verde. The interior was retrimmed in original-colour dark green Connolly hide by Mike Thomas Trimming, who also made correct-pattern rubber mats and a new white convertible top and tonneau cover, both edged in dark green leather to match the interior.
British Lancia specialist Thornley Kelham fabricated a new hardtop in 2020. Painted in the same pale green as the rest of the car, it is an exact, digitally measured copy of the rare period Fontana item belonging to another Aurelia Spider owner. It is ‘as new’ and never yet used on the road.
In recent years, the car has been maintained in Turin by the former chief mechanic of the Abarth racing team, who is scheduled to conduct a full service of the car and engine tune in June 2023. The odometer now shows a total mileage of 72,000, most likely the total distance covered from new.
It has always been used regularly and kept in a heated garage in winter. The car runs on bimetallic (steel/aluminium) Borrani wheels purchased from Luciano Basso, the official factory restorer of older Lancias in Turin.
Whilst in its current ownership, kept with many other significant Lancias, Aurelia Spider ‘093’ has successfully participated in numerous rallies: the Coupe des Alpes from Evian to Cannes (five times), the Rallye des Alpes from Geneva to Cortina (twice) and the Hamilton Tour in France, Spain and Italy (four times).
Superbly prepared, lovingly looked after by a true connoisseur and presented in its original Verde with a Pelle Verde interior, this Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America, a car we have known for 35 years and never thought would be sold, offers a brief opportunity to buy one of the most glamorous and fine-driving sports cars of the 1950s.