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Lancia Aurelia: Buying guide and review (1950-1958)

Lancia Aurelia Lancia Aurelia Lancia Aurelia
The Lancia badge may have become rather neglected over the past couple of decades, but take a look at some of the magnificent cars the it once graced, and you’ll remember why enthusiasts hark on about this Italian legend. Lancia’s Aurelia, launched in 1950, was such a car. Not only was it beautifully designed, but it also featured a number of production world firsts, in the form of its V6 engine and semi-trailing arm rear suspension. 
 
Radial tyres and a unitary body construction both contributed to the cars well balanced handling and a number of well-known motor racers of the time owned Aurelias. Running gear improvements and updates kept the Aurelia up-to-date with contemporaries, and the introduction of coupe and convertible body styles raised the Aurelia’s desirability to new heights.
 
There used to be a time when you could pick up an Aurelia for a song, it will now take a full album to get your hands on a good one, and values are showing no signs of dipping. With a number of variants and body styles to choose from, the Aurelia’s design integrity makes it a desirable classic car today.
 
Which one to buy?
 
Sedans, coupes, convertibles, spiders and a handful of special coachbuilt variants were created during the eight-year production run. Each year saw some changes being made to the running gear of the Aurelia, with the original 1.8 and 2.0 engine sizes increased to 2.5 litres by 1953. Suspension systems were extremely advanced for the time, however post-1954 models reverted to a more conventional De-Dion rear suspension setup, making for more predictable handling. 
 
The very rare B24 Spider with only 150 made is a beautiful car however both pricing and availability mean that you may need to look to the slightly more numerous convertible versions to increase your chances of ownership if you are set on an open top Aurelia.
 
All versions are great GT cars with the later models offering some added refinement and power. The sedan and coupe body styles are by far the most numerous, and can generally be found for sale through specialists. Spiders and convertibles are far rarer and can command some eye watering prices. Most cars would have undergone at least one full restoration by now, and it’s important to get comprehensive service and maintenance documentation to ensure the cars condition and history can be verified.
 
Performance and specs

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT
Engine 1991cc 12-valve SOHC V6 
Power 87bhp @ 4500rpm 
Torque 118lb ft @ 2500rpm
Top speed 105 mph 
0-60mph 12.0seconds 
Fuel consumption 24.6mpg 
Gearbox Four-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2650mm
Length 4369mm
Width 1550mm
Height 1359mm
Curb weight 1133kg
 
Common problems
 
• Service items and mechanical parts are available while trim for both the interior and exterior is much harder to come by.

• Rust is a real concern, especially on cars that have not been subject to a rebuild. The most common areas for the tin worm to manifest itself are the, footwells, inner and outer wheel arches, bulkhead, door sills, rear suspension turrets, rear wings and the bootlid edge.

• The V6 engines were cutting edge for their time however they can be prone to overheating and head gasket damage. The wet-liner design cylinder bores can sink over time requiring a rebuild, check that any such work has been done by a specialist, as using the incorrect parts for the model year can cause problems.

• The front suspension has a reservoir for its sliding pillar system, which must be kept topped-up regularly. Most cars that have not been refurbished will need a suspension rebuild, and this is a specialist job.

• Some cars will have had modifications carried out to improve everyday usability, including the fitment of electric fuel pumps to cure vapour lock and improve cold starting. For hot starting issues, fuel return lines similar to the Fulvia’s much-improved setup have been installed.

• Gearboxes were subtly revised throughout the first four series, with the final iterations being the most robust. Some of the later cars have had their hydraulic clutches reverted back to a manual setup to improve reliability.
 
Model history
 
1950: Lancia Aurelia B10 First Series launched, initially available with 56bhp 1.8-litre V6 in sedan form
1951: Aurelia B21 launched with 70bhp 2.0-litre V6. Aurelia B20 Coupe introduced with uprated 75bhp 2.0-litre engine
1952: Second Series Aurelia launched. Coupe uprated to 80bhp, while B22 Sedan received dual Webers and 90bhp. Changes included improved brakes and minor styling changes
1953: Third Series Aurelia introduced, with engine capacity increased to 2.5-litres and modified rear styling
1954: Fourth Series Aurelia introduced: De Dion tube rear suspension replaces semi-trailing setup, and engine bearing design upgraded. B24 Spider body style introduced
1955: B24 Spider production ends with 240 cars built
1956: Fifth Series Aurelia launched. Transaxle and driveshaft received upgrades. B24 convertible introduced with similar running gear to Coupes
1957: Sixth Series of the Aurelia introduced. Engine tweaking resulted in lower power but increased torque outputs. Minor external changes with vent windows and chrome detailing. Fuel tank was relocated to boot from its original position behind seats. Seats updated
1958: Aurelia production ends with approximately 18,200 cars built
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
www.lanciainfo.com
www.lanciamotorclub.co.uk
www.viva-lancia.com
 
Summary and prices
 
Values vary wildly between the early B10 Aurelia sedans, which in good condition can be found for around £20,000, to the very rare B24 spiders, which have seen close to £1m at auction.
 
In between these extremes, the desirable B20 GT coupes can be had for £100,000 and up, while the slightly more numerous convertibles can command up to £350,000.
 
With similar running gear to the spiders and priced high enough to ensure that they have been well maintained, the later model coupes seem like conspicuously good value. Whichever version you go for, there are a fair number of Aurelias to choose from, and as long as you avoid the suspiciously cheap and badly rusted examples, they can transport you back to a time when the Lancia name was synonymous with style and grace.
 
Words: John Tallodi
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Last updated: 9th Feb 2016
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Lancia Aurelia cars for sale

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Lancia Aurelia
129500 945000 GBP
  • Lancia Aurelia

    POA POA

    Aurelia B / 10 of 1950. Superlative conditions both mechanical and bodywork. Original upholstery untouched. Provided from birth of a Radio Condor still working perfectly. Registered in the Lancia Register, revised, with accessories of the time. Bright and quiet performance in the march. Car oa a secure short-term revaluation thanks to its innovative mechanics for those times and also for the few remaining models of this prestigious car.

    • Year: 1950
    • Mileage: 76000 mi
    For sale
    Irene Morfini
  • 1955 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series IV

    $185,000(£151,200.50) $185,000(£151,200.50)

    This car is currently not at Fantasy Junction but is available by appointment. 1955 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT, Series IV s/n 3618, engine no. 4372 Maroon with Tan wool interior Always known for their advanced and sophisticated engineering, Lancia’s B20 GT was the company’s greatest car. The car combined both prodigious performance and handling with a sublime, classic form while adding, and defining, the name Gran Turismo to the world lexicon. Shortly after its introduction a B20 GT finished second overall in the 1951 Millie Miglia, minutes behind the winning Ferrari 340 America. In the face of severe storms, the excellence of its chassis and smooth power delivery allowed the B20 to close in on the leading Ferrari only to lose ground on the final high speed run back into Brescia. Even the original B10 sedan was noted for its performance and quickly began to be entered in rallies and other events. With its lighter weight, cleaner shape and sense of chic the B20 replaced the sedan as a sporting vehicle and became the favorite mount of many a moneyed sportsman. The Aurelia design hosted a number of special features from its hemispherical head and aluminum construction V-6 engine to its tra

    • Year: 1955
    • Mileage: 93942 mi
    For sale
  • 1955 Lancia B20GT Aurelia Series IV

    $229,500(£187,570.35) $229,500(£187,570.35)

    1955 Lancia B20GT Aurelia s/n B20-3419, MOT20*4127* Powder Blue with Grey Cloth Interior Since their first offerings to the automotive public, Lancia has consistently designed and engineered some of the most technically advanced and beautiful racing and touring cars. This is certainly the case with this particularly remarkable Lancia B20 GT Aurelia - truly a Gran Tourismo car in every respect, boasting impeccable provenance, superb restoration, and highly respected ownership. The Aurelia design hosted a number of special features including a hemispherical head, aluminum V-6 engine with rear transaxle, offering excellent weight distribution and vastly improved handling. With the all-new unibody construction, the compact V-6 engine combined with the dynamic chassis, suspension and power resulted in a truly modern car. The Lancia B20 was an innovation in GT cars, literally inventing the term with this car as the very embodiment of Gran Tourismo. B20s evolved with multiple improvements in drive train and suspension until the recognized peak of refinement was achieved with this car. The Series IV is perhaps the best of the B-20's six series, combining excellent power to weight ratio via

    • Year: 1955
    • Mileage: 61390 mi
    For sale
  • Lancia Aurelia

    £945,000 £945,000

    1955 Lancia Spider Aurelia G.T. 2500 B24 - “America” by Pininfarina Right Hide Drive: Supplied New in Italy: EU Taxes Paid: 1 of 59 Produced Chassis Number: B24 -1004 Engine Number: B24 – 1029 2015 Mille Miglia Entrant (Car Number 375) Lancia’s first post-war car, the revolutionary Aurelia, appeared in 1950. Its combination of the first production V-6 engine with a balanced transaxle gearbox and inboard rear brakes were revelations in post-war Europe. The initial B10 saloon was quickly followed by a coupe, the B20, which was built on a shortened platform. Although the Aurelia was built with a semi-unitary body, a platform for coachbuilders (the B50) was also offered, on which Pininfarina built a four-seat cabriolet. However, it was felt that a proper open two-seater sport model was required, especially for the U.S. market. The answer was the B24 Spider “America”, which was launched in 1954. Pininfarina’s shapely roadster was built on a wheelbase that had been shortened a further 210 millimeters from the coupé, and it featured a dogleg wraparound windshield and side curtains, with no external handles for doors or the boot to interrupt the almost liquid lines. As Lancia had established itself in the early 1950s as a force in international competition, it is not surprising that hints of the marque’s D24 racing car could be seen in the look of the new sports car. After only 240 of the Spider “America’s” were built, a heavily revised model, the B24 convertible, was introduced in 1956. With an eye towards creature comforts rather than sportiness, the convertible added weight with roll-up windows, higher doors, more interior furnishings, and a more upright windshield. At once, the Spider “America” was destined to be set apart from the rest! a magnificent motorcar to complete a future Mille Miglia in! Of the 240 examples built, we understand that only 59 were built to Right Hand Drive specification. Our “Spider America” was the 4th chassis sequence motorcar produced. The 1st chassis was a prototype and has subsequently been destroyed. Chassis 1002 was the 1st completed and existing Left Hand Drive car and was exhibited at the Brussels Motor Show in 1954. We also believe that our car was the 3rd right hand drive car manufactured and supplied new to Works Maserati / Ferrari Grand Prix driver Cesare Perdisa. Hexagon Classics Aurelia G.T. has lived entirely in the temperate climate of Northern Italy until its purchase by us and the previous owner had just completed a comprehensive refurbishment programme costing in excess of Euro 50,000. These very rare motorcars are only seldom offered publicly for sale; at the Monterey, California Auctions August 2016 a 1955 Lancia Spider Aurelia G.T. 2500 B24S - “America” by Pininfarina (1 of 181 Produced) achieved at Gooding’s US$ 2,007,500.00 (GBP 1,500,000 Approx.) We offer for sale as owners and not a brokerage offer at GBP 945,000.00 (US$ 1,249,000.00) Available for inspection at our central London showroom in South Kensington showrooms.

    • Year: 1955
    For sale
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