1928 Lancia Lambda
Year of manufacture1928
1928 Lancia Lambda 8th-Series Grande Luxe Saloon
Registration no. XV 1076
Chassis no. 19228
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 vee-configuration engines. Lancia's first vee-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.
Unitary body/chassis, independent front suspension, and an overhead-camshaft V4 engine, the revolutionary Lambda had all these in 1921. Lancia's in-house coachwork - designed by Battista Falchetto - consisted of a low-slung Torpedo with a pair of symmetrical doors on either side, to which a full-size hardtop could be attached, thus transforming it into a saloon. However, its unitary construction made it all but impossible for independent coachbuilders to offer bespoke creations on the Lambda 'chassis'. Indeed, one has only to look at an early Lambda bereft of its external body panels to understand the difficulty of achieving anything significantly different from the original, given the foregoing constraints.
By the time the 7th Series arrived for 1927, Lancia had had a partial change of heart and offered an alternative separate chassis, thus enabling independent coachbuilders to meet the demand for bespoke creations. Separate it might have been, but the new Lambda chassis was far from conventional, utilising a pair of large fabricated box-section side members, instead of the traditional side rails, in a form of 'semi-monocoque' construction. For the 8th and 9th Series Lambdas this was the only type of chassis produced, the sole fixed styling element being the bonnet. Paralleling these later series' chassis developments were increases in engine capacity (originally 2,120cc): to 2,370cc for the 7th Series and 2,570cc for the 8th and 9th.
Right-hand drive, like all Lancias into the 1950s, this 8th-Series Lambda saloon has the 11' 3" wheelbase chassis. The original coachwork was of the Weymann type, possibly supplied via Curtis Automobile Coachbuilders Ltd of London W1, the original importers for Lancia. Purchased by the immediately preceding owner's family in 1934, the car was partially dismantled in 1946 for restoration but the project was never commenced. Imported into the UK from South Africa in the mid-2000s, it was offered for sale as a partially dismantled restoration project at Bonhams' Olympia Sale in December 2006 (Lot 654) where it was purchased by the current vendor. A well-known and highly respected restorer in Ireland, the owner is to be congratulated in deciding to restore the car to its original specification as a Weymann-type saloon, rather than take the easier option and re-body it as a tourer. The restoration was completed in 2018 and the car has seen little use since then.