Historic Car Brands
Lancia & C Fabbrica Automobili was founded on 27th November 1906, in Turin, by Fiat racing drivers, Vincenzo Lancia and his friend, Claudio Fogolin.
1908 Lancia Tipo 51
Vincenzo was previously apprenticed to car-brand Cierano, until Fiat took over that company in 1900. He was an accomplished racing driver and continued to race Fiats until 1906.
The first car manufactured by Lancia was the Tipo 51 or 12hp (RAC) model that was later christened ‘Alfa’ – the first of many Lancias to carry Greek alphabetical names. The 2.5-litre engine produced 28hp.
1909 Lancia Beta Torpedo 15/20 – Semnoz
This car was followed by the larger, 3.8-litre DiAplha, 3.2-litre Beta and 3.5-litre Gamma models. In 1910, came the 4.1-litre Delta and its competition version, the DiDelta. Epsilon and Zeta followed and, in 1913, came the 4.1-litre Eta, with optional electric lighting.
The five-litre Theta of 1914 had electric lighting and starting as standard – a European first.
In 1915, Lancia also manufactured its first truck, the Jota, that continued as a dedicated series.
After World War I, the Theta was succeeded by the Kappa, that was virtually the same, other than having a detachable cylinder head. Next came the five-litre, overhead-valve, four-cylinder DiKappa model.
Lancia experimented with a single-overhead-camshaft V12 for its TriKappa luxury-car model and displayed a narrow-vee example at the 1919 Paris Auto Show, but worked out that it would be too expensive to make. That car also had cantilever rear suspension.
Lancia DiLambda V8 block – Antique Automobile Club of America
When launched in 1921, the TriKappa had a narrow-vee, overhead-camshaft V8 that displaced 4.6 litres and put out 98hp, which was enough for it to achieve 130km/h. The chassis rolled on conventional semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear, and had four-wheel brakes.
The TriKappa was available as a rolling cowl/chassis, a torpedo or a six-seat coupe de ville.
Lancia Lambda Airway Saloon – Wikiwand
The Lancia Lambda broke new ground in almost every way in 1922. It was powered by a narrow-vee V4 engine that displaced 2.1 litres (49hp) and grew through 2.4 litres (59hp) in 1926, to 2.6 litres (69hp) by 1928. Because of the narrow, 13-degree angle between the cylinder banks, a single head carried a single overhead camshaft that actuated all the valves.
The chassis was blended with the lower body panels, forming a unitary construction body/chassis, but without a stressed roof.
Lancia Lambda body/chassis construction
Up front was independent coil-spring-shock-absorber suspension on sliding pillars and the rear live axle was suspended on conventional leaf springs.
That front suspension that incorporated the spring and hydraulic damper in a single unit was employed in subsequent Lancias, up to the Appia that was replaced in 1963.
The Lambda wasn’t intended to be a sports car, but its outstanding handling soon made it become one.
More than 11,000 Lambdas were built between 1922 and 1931.
Lancia DiLambda – Tony Harrison
For 1930, Lancia released the DiLambda luxury car, powered by a narrow-vee V8 that dislplaced four litres and developed 100hp.
In 1931 came the Lambda replacements, in the form of the two-litre V4 Artena and 2.6-litre V8 Astura.
1930 Lancia Artena Berlina – Tony Harrison
Unit construction returned in 1932, with the launch of the Augusta. This downsized 1.2-litre, V4-powered saloon or cabriolet reflected the Great Depression mood and boosted sales. However, it came up against Fiat’s 508 Ballila that took the numbers honours.
The Aprilia arrived in early 1937, at the very time Vincenzo Lancia died of a heart attack. His wife, Adele Miglietti Lancia, and his son, Gianni Lancia, took over control of the company and persuaded Vittorio Jano to join as an engineer.
1937 Lancia Aprilia – Liftarn
Jano had already made a name for himself by designing various Alfa Romeo models, including some of its most successful race cars, including the 6C, P2 and P3.
The Aprilia was designed using a wind tunnel, in collaboration with Battista Farina and Politecnico di Torino, and achieved low drag coefficient of 0.47.
The first series was powered by a 1.4-litre, V4 motor producing 47hp and the second series that were pre-War and early post-War models had engine capacity increased to 1.5 litres and 48hp.
Lancia Ardea – Luc-106
The tiny Ardea arrived in 1939 and continued until 1953. It was powered by a 900cc V4 and the 1948 model had the distinction of boasting the first five-speed gearbox fitted to a production car.
Lancia premiered the first full-production V6 engine, in the 1950 Aurelia that continued, with improvements, until 1958.
The Aurelia was as ground-breaking for its time as was the 1920’s Lambda. Interestingly, the Greeks were left behind now, with the Aurelia being named after a famous Roman road, the Via Aurelia that connected Rome with Pisa.
Lancia V6 engine – Stahlkocher
The Aurelia was designed under Vittorio Jano’s direction. Its engine, one of the first production V6 engines, was a 60-degree design by Francesco de Virgilio. It was an all-aluminium, pushrod design with a single camshaft between the cylinder banks. A hemispherical combustion chamber and in-line valves were used. A single Solex or Weber carburettor fed in the mixture.
During the Aurelia’s production life, capacity grew from 1.8 litres to 2.5 litres and horsepower doubled, from a starting point of 56hp.
At the rear was an innovative combination transaxle with the gearbox, clutch, differential and inboard-mounted drum brakes. Rear suspension was by semi-trailing arms that were replaced by a de Dion tube in the fourth series. The front suspension was the familiar sliding pillar design.
1951 Lancia Aurelia GT – Mr Choppers
Several body styles were offered: a four-door saloon, two-door GT coupé, two-door spider/convertible and a cowl/chassis for custom bodies by external coachbuilders.
The Aurelia was the first car to be fitted with radial tires as standard equipment: initially 165SR400 Michelin X and later, on sports models, 165HR400 Pirelli Cinturato.
Lancia Aurelia B20 GT – Jakob-K
In addition, the Aurelia GT formed the basis of Lancia’s D23 and D24 sports racing cars that had twin-camshaft heads and optional superchargers. These specials had multi-tubular frame chassis, double wishbone front and de Dion rear suspension, and a transaxle transmission. The 3.3-litre V6 produced 265hp, giving the car a top speed of 260 km/h.
Lancia D24 – Marco-56
The D24’s most significant victories were those by Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, by Alberto Ascari in the 1954 Mille Miglia and by Piero Taruffi in the 1954 Targa Florio and Giro di Sicilia.
This drive for innovation and the constant quest for excellence and quality, despite complex construction processes and antiquated production machinery meant that all cars essentially had to be hand-made.
With little commonality between the various models, the cost of production continued to rise, while flat demand eventually affected Lancia’s viability.
Gianni Lancia, a graduate engineer, was president of Lancia from 1947 to 1955 and in 1956, the Pesenti family took over control of Lancia.
1966 Lancia Flaminia Berlina – Rex Gray
In 1957, the luxury Flaminia – named after another Roman road – replaced the Aurelia, featuring a horizontal grille and available in sedan, convertible and coupe body styles.
The Flaminia’s chassis was a development of the Aurelia’s, but was significantly upgraded. The front suspension was changed to a more conventional configuration with double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers and an anti-sway bar. The rear suspension retained the de Dion setup, with a transaxle mounted at the rear, as in the Aurelia.
1961 Lancia Flaminia GT – Mr Choppers
Power came from the 102hp 2.5-litre V6, but triple-carburettor versions had 140hp. The engine was enlarged to 2.8 litres in 1962 and power went to 120hp standard and 152hp for Super Sport versions.
Lancia Flavia Convertibile – Mr Choppers
The Lancia Flavia was developed by Antonio Fessia in the late 1950s, and introduced in 1961. Initially available only as a four-door saloon, the Flavia was a radical departure for Lancia. It was powered by a 1.5-litre aluminium boxer engine, had front-wheel drive, and four-wheel disc brakes.
This model was soon joined by a two-door coupé, designed by Pininfarina on a shortened platform. Vignale built two-door convertibles and Zagato designed a lightweight two-door version.
The engine grew in size to 1.8 litres and then to two litres by 1969.
Lancia Fulvia – Tony Harrison
The Fulvia arrived in 1963 to replace the Lancia Appia, but the Fulvia had front wheel drive like the Flavia. The general engineering design of the Fulvia was identical to that of the Flavia, with the major exception of the engine: V4 vs flat-four.
Engine capacity started at 1.1 litres and progressively increased to 1.6 litres. And out put went from an original 57 hp up to 130hp. In concert, the original four-speed box was replaced by a five-speed.
Lancia Fulvia two-litre engine – Craig Howell
The Fulvia was manufactured in three variants: Berlina four-door saloon, two-door Coupé and Sport, plus a fastback coupé by Zagato on the Coupé floorpan.
Fulvias are noted for their role in motorsport history, including a win in the International Rally Championship, in 1972.
1970 Lancia Fulvia HF – Colin-MB
Fiat launched a take-over bid in October 1969 and it was accepted by Lancia, as the company was losing significant sums of money.
This was not the end of the distinctive Lancia marque, and new models in the 1970s such as the Stratos, Gamma and Beta showed that Fiat wished to preserve the Lancia DNA, at least in the short. term.
The Lancia Stratos HF was a productive band of Lancia and Fiat (which controlled Ferrari as well), because the powerplant for the mid-engined Stratos was Ferrari’s 2.4-litre V6 Dino engine, developing 190hp.
Lancia Stratos HF – Tennen-Gas
It was a very successful rally car, winning the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976. As a racing car it won the 1974 Targa Florio; five times the Tour de France Automobile and three editions of Giro d’Italia Automobilistico.
During the 1980s, the company cooperated with Saab Automobile, with the Lancia Delta being sold as the Saab 600 in Sweden. The 1985 Lancia Thema also shared a platform with the Saab 9000, Fiat Croma and the Alfa Romeo 164.
By the 1990s, all Lancia models were closely related to Fiats and the DNA had all but vanished.