Lancia Astura Limousine
Imagine the good karma associated with owning a car that once served the sisters of the convent outside Sondrio, Italy. One can picture the humble sisters using the elegant first-series Astura to deliver food to the poor or to shuttle visiting bishops to important engagements. This history is indirectly documented by a small badge on the car which reads “Sanctus Christopherus protegit nos.” It asks St. Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, to protect them. The car had been donated to the convent by a Milanese nobleman.
The elegant saloon is a genuine time machine. It is presented as a survivor of generations, not to mention Mussolini and World War II. Its engaging patina shows beautifully, and the exterior paint is the exact paint that was applied by hand at Carrozzeria Boneschi 77 years ago.
The convent's wine cellar proved an ideal space to store the Lancia Astura during Italy's most dangerous times. The car remained there unmolested for many years. Period details include cut glass vases and motoring tags, all of which remain wonderfully preserved. Forward thinking features, such as tinted sunshades for the front passengers, also remain intact.
While a recognized pioneer in unitized construction, Lancia elected to use a reinforced ladder frame for the Astura line. Lancia was also looking forward by fitting the frame with advanced technology for the day, including a narrow-angle V8 (only 19-degrees), 12-volt electrics and Lancia's sophisticated front suspension. A top speed of up to 75 mph was claimed for the car, but drivers valued the V8's smooth torque more than its impressive top-gear speed.
This Lancia Astura stands as a one-off commission. At the time, SA Boneschi was one of Lancia's favorite and among Italy's best-known coachbuilders. While clearly elegant, this example is a paradigm of design restraint in a wonderfully preserved state with perhaps blessed provenance.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2009 at the Battersea Evolution, London.
73 bhp, 2,604 cc overhead cam eight-cylinder engine, four-speed, independent sliding pillar front suspension, semi-elliptic rear leaf springs, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 125
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Pieter E. Kamp