1957 Lancia Aurelia

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1957
  • Chassis number 
    B20 3857
  • Lot number 
    227
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

Lancia England's demonstrator and press car
1957 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT 6th-Series Coupé
Coachwork by Pinin Farina
Registration no. 5 LME
Chassis no. B20 3857

Introduced in 1907, the Vincenzo Lancia's first car showed an independence of thought and defiance of convention that would remain associated with the marque well into the modern era. Lancia recommenced production after WW2 with the Aprilia and its smaller cousin the Ardea, but waiting in the wings was yet another groundbreaking design: the Aurelia. Lancia's classic Aurelia, the first car ever to employ a V6 engine, was launched at the 1950 Turin Motor Show. Designed in wartime by Francesco de Virgilio, the 1,754cc 60-degree V6 was of all-aluminium construction and used overhead valves operated via short pushrods instead of Lancia's traditional overhead camshafts. An advanced unitary construction design, the Aurelia retained Lancia's 'sliding pillar' independent front suspension, first seen on the Lambda, but used a novel semi-trailing-arm layout at the rear, another world first. The transmission too, was unusual, comprising a two-piece prop-shaft and combined gearbox/rear transaxle on which were mounted the inboard brakes, though for once this was not an entirely new departure.

The B10 saloon was joined the following year by the Pinin Farina-styled B20 Coupé, a fastback '2+2' on a shortened wheelbase which, with its combination of sports car performance and saloon car practicality, can be said to have introduced the Gran Turismo concept to the world. The Aurelia engine had been increased to 1,991cc in 1951 and it was this unit in up-rated form that went into the B20. Lighter and higher geared than the saloon, the B20 was good for a top speed of over 100mph. Stunning the motor racing world, a mildly race-developed B20 driven by chain-smoking, brandy-swigging Giovanni Bracco finished 2nd in the 1951 Mille Miglia, beaten only by Luigi Villoresi's 4.1-litre works Ferrari! It is worth noting that the nimble Aurelia was actually faster than the Ferrari over the mountain passes north of Florence.

A rare UK-delivered model with Nardi floor shift, '3857' boasts the desirable attributes of matching numbers, few owners, low mileage and full history. This car is one of only 25 B20s imported by Lancia England Ltd and was first registered to them as '5 LME' on 2nd July 1957 according to the original buff logbook, which lists a further seven owners up to 1969. A letter on file from Lancia to one of the previous owners, Ugo Barone, states that the original colour scheme was grey with matching cloth interior.

'5 LME' served as Lancia England's demonstrator and press car, featuring in Autocar's road test report of 8th November 1957 (copy on file). According to Autocar: "The Lancia Aurelia Gran Turismo 2500 is of wide academic interest, not only to the sporting fraternity but also to all who can appreciate fine machinery and enterprising design, even when it may be priced beyond their grasp." And at £3,346 including UK purchase tax, the B20 GT was more expensive than the contemporary Aston Martin DB Mark III and thus well out of the reach of all but the wealthiest of enthusiasts. Autocar concluded its test of '5 LME' by stating: "In appearance it is classically stylish without need of ornament, and the general standard of finish, of both bodywork and mechanical components, is almost beyond criticism; without doubt it is one of the most desirable sporting cars of the decade." The Lancia Aurelia B20 GT has remained so ever since.

Documentation on file shows that '3857' was sold to the aforementioned Ugo Barone by one Ernest Gibbs of Hampshire in July 1992, by which time the car had been reregistered as 'VUV 453'. Mr Barone then had the Lancia comprehensively restored, as evidenced by numerous work-in-progress photographs on file. Copy ACI paperwork shows that the car was registered to Mr Barone on 8th August 2005.
The Lancia was subsequently owned in the UK by Anthony Brazzo of Essex (from 2008). The original registration was retrieved and the Aurelia despatched to renowned marque specialists Omicron Engineering for extensive re-commissioning and fault rectification at a cost of £5,423 (see detailed bill dated December 2008 on file). The Aurelia was then sold to Dennis Mahoney of Surrey, who entered the car in the Mille Miglia in 2010, co-driving with Rick Hall. It passed to next owner Richard Wills in January 2013.

Offered for sale by a prominent private collector, the car was treated to a major service at Thornley Kelham in May 2019 and comes with TK's service booklet. The comprehensive two-part history file also contains a copy instruction book; photocopied literature; a quantity of expired MoTs; a FIVA Identity Card; HTP papers (Period E: 1947-1961; FIA Class: GTS6); and the aforementioned historical documentation.

Representing a rare opportunity to purchase an Aurelia B20 GT of the very highest quality, '5 LME' ticks all the boxes and is eligible for many of the most prestigious historic motoring events.