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

Lancia Aurelia: Buying guide and review (1950-1958) Classic and Performance Car
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
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  • 1953 Lancia Aurelia B20GT S3

    £150,000 £150,000

    1953 Lancia Aurelia B20GT S3 chassis 2790 Successful Italian rally car in 1990’s fresh out of private UK collection perfect entry for Goodwood, Mille Miglia Full details to follow shortly.

    For sale
    £150,000 £150,000
    Duncan Hamilton ROFGO
  • 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America

    POA POA

    1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America Chassis: B24S 1077 Engine: B24 1098 This B24S Spider America is a very special example that possesses an unbroken chain of ownership, the most desirable options, and an outstanding concours-quality restoration. The history of B24S 1077 can be traced back to July 1955, when it was sold to its first owner, Luigi Bosisio of Milan. A well-known gentleman driver, Bosisio was a frequent competitor in major Italian events throughout the early 1950s and owned a number of outstanding sports cars, including a Lancia Aurelia B20 GT, Fiat 8V, Maserati A6GCS, and a Zagato-bodied Ferrari 166 MM. After a short period in the care of Bosisio, the Spider America was sold to Roberto Longhi who, in turn, sold it to Santino Bertele. In February 1958, Sig. Bertele sold the Lancia to Federico De Gregorio. The Spider America's fifth owner, Gianni Savoia of Verona, purchased the car from Sig. De Gregorio in the early 1960s and retained it until 1983, when it was sold to a local classic car dealer. Later that year, the B24S was sold to American enthusiast Richard Citron but was stored in Italy and never exported. In 1985, famed Formula One team director Jean Sage acqu

    • Year: 1955
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1958 Lancia Aurelia B24S Convertible

    POA POA

    Lancia Automobiles S.P.A., founded in 1906, is perhaps one of the oldest car companies in the world. They have a unique flavor and easily stand out from other Italian manufacturers for a number of reasons; Impeccable craftsmanship, fresh, innovate engineering solutions, and sporting design has always come together in a marriage that has provided the basis for a sports car easily comparable to its contemporaries such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. While the Lancia Automobile Company often had complete disregard for the accounting department in their endeavors to produce some of the world’s most interestingly advanced cars, they absolutely made there make on automotive history both on and off the track. When Vittorio Jano joined Lancia in 1937, his biggest achievement would come with the Aurelia series and his astonishing V6, the first the world had ever seen in a production vehicle. In 1950 when the Aurelia was launched it immediately took to racing circuits across Europe for both marketing purposes and the outright goal of podium finishes. In 1951 the Aurelia finished only 13 minutes behind a Ferrari 340 in the Mille Miglia and took a class win, along with class wins in the

    • Year: 1958
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Lancia Aurelia B24 S

    POA POA

    We are proud to offer the Lancia B24 S Spider which was delivered when it was new to Italy. Like most of the pretty Aurelia Spider it went to the US where it was located by an Italian collector in early 2000. It was then imported into Italy again where it found a new home for the last 16 years always nicely treated and lovely restored to its original and very rare livery of light blue(celeste chiaro) with a contrasting brown/beige interior. (Pelle naturale) According to the Lancia Aurelia registry it always kept its original engine and as well its original gearbox. It is more than difficult to find Lancia Aurelias same original as our car on offer. In the last 16 years it was quite often seen rallying in Italy. The last enthusiastic owner kept it always in fantastic condition throughout. It runs and drives perfectly. Price: On request Note: For correct viewing please enable JavaScript.

    • Year: 1957
    For sale
    POA POA
  • LANCIA AURELIA B50 PININFARINA CABRIOLET RHD 1951.

    £275,000 £275,000

    Silver Grey with matching grey hide interior. Many special features, having been the 1951 Geneva motor show car. Supplied new to an English Lady it spent many years in the USA including a prize winning appearance at Pebble Beach before returning to the UK a few years ago. £275,000 Image Copyright and courtesy of the Pebble Beach concours Archive Image Copyright and courtesy of the Pebble Beach concours Archive

    • Year: 1951
    For sale
    £275,000 £275,000