Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider

Vincenzo Lancia was born on August 24, 1881. After graduating from technical school, he got a job as an accountant at an auto factory in Turn, Italy, shortly thereafter becoming a test driver and successful racer for Fiat in the early part of the 20th century. He began building his own cars in 1908. His car was immediately successful and the company developed a successful export business with an active representative in New York during its early years. After World War I, the company continued to produce high-priced cars making its first real breakthrough with the Lambda starting in 1922. Powered by an overhead cam V4 engine whose cylinders were mounted at an angle of just 13 degrees, it included a monocoque body patented by Lancia as well as an independent front suspension with telescopic springs. Other models would follow, most with chassis available for Italian and other European coachbuilders.

Hailed by many as the first to produce a grand touring automobile, Lancia would introduce the B20 Aurelia GT designed by the renowned Vittorio Jano in 1950. It was a sporting version of the Aurelia Saloon styled by Pininfarina, offering a motor car suitable for both daily use and competitive motorsports. A near-stock model finished second to Ferrari in the 1951 Mille Miglia and full factory-prepped race cars scored 1-2 in class and 6th and 8th overall at Le Mans in 1952. That same year, a B20 Aurelia won the Targa Florio, and came in 3rd and 5th at the Mille Miglia. A stellar rally car, it would go on to win the Liege-Rome-Liege in 1953 and the famed Monte Carlo in 1954. Despite these successes, Lancia was little known in America in the 1950s as the innovative Italian automaker had been out of the U.S. market since the 1920s.

But World War II devastation bred postwar determination, and Lancia returned in 1956 seeking valuable U.S. dollars with its handsome Aurelia Spider upgraded to B24 specification, most notable for its pioneering overhead valve 60-degree V6 engine with four-speed rear-mounted transaxle and costly, but effective, sliding pillar front suspension. The two-seater saw just 650 copies of which just 86 were built for U.S. sale. Behind the distinctive Lancia grille was a cabriolet body masterfully styled by Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina while offering performance that challenged the Maseratis and Ferraris of the era in an innovative, practical, and attractive package.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

122 hp, 2,451 cc overhead valve 60-degree V6 engine, rear-mounted four-speed transaxle, fully independent sliding pillar front and deDion rear suspension, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 96.5".

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider