Where did the B20's lovely body design come from? Too often we look for the master stroke, the sign of genius, the heroic inspired moment as the way great design comes into the world. But looking at the B20 (and a number of other cars from the same period) stymies this approach: its not just the product of Lancia and Pininfarina, there is even doubt as to who's hand was behind it.
There is another way to look at this - not to consider the design as a singular spark of genius, but rather as a product developed in a context, as one among many. The time was full of designers working to figure out the post-war coupe, sharing their ideas among other designers as carrozzeria prepared special project cars for the major automobile shows held each year in Paris, Geneva, and Turin. Their goal was to attract both customers and manufacturers, by continuously pushing design ideas forward. In Italy, special bodies were found on Ferraris, Maseratis, but also they were prepared for Lancias, Fiats and Alfa Romeos.
Looking at the work years later, we can see this was a time when designers looked, learned, and shared from each other - as part of a tight community working on the same products but with slightly different answers. In this way antecedents for the B20 are not just in the Cisitalia 202, but also in their Aprilia coupes ( late 1940s to 1950), and in Ghia's Fiat 1400 Supergioiello, possibly by Michelotti.
The Fiat 1400 Supergioiello by Ghia:
Or the same 1950 Ghia Fiat at the Torino Auto show (thanks to Paolo Giusti). It has very nice lines, similar but exactly not same as the B20....
There is nothing like original, period information. From Auto Italiana, 1954.... These shots are by Corrado Millanta, of the 1954 prototype (note the bumper treatment). This car was at Ospedaletti in December of that year.
A road test of an early 2 liter B20 has been added: B20 road test.
In general, most Aurelia reports are based on later B20s with the de Dion suspension. This report is on an earlier car with IRS. It was initially written in 2008, and has since been updated.
There was a a guy, an old friend of Steve Katzman's, back when Steve lived out east (I think). His name was Mike Seidman, which he later changed to Space. He was into Lancias. I met him late in life, but he had this B24 and he'd fitted a Flaminia engine. It was seen in Pennsylvania or New York (can't recall) in 2004.
Years later, it seems the car surfaces for sale on Bring a Trailer, with a story about a short-term use of the Flaminia engine for testing. It may be a different car, but if its this one, the Flaminia engine was in the car for a while. Nice guy tho.
Why is this car on an Aurelia site? Its a bit of a story:
Flaminia Super Sport
In 2015, there was a rather special Aurelia display at the Padova fair in September. This event is a favorite, as it brings together a lot of old car folks especially interested in Italian cars. While the show is all under the banner of commerce, there are a number of display stands, from manufacturers, suppliers, and car clubs.
The Registro Aurelia put on a heck of show in 2015. Its not clear what inspired them, but it was quite the delight, as one can tell from these photos from James Steerman. They put up a large display register with the B24 Spiders, showing original color by serial number, and dots for which were still extant. Of course, there is always the odd one missed....
A recent discussion of radios in a B12 on the Lancia Club site brought to mid the restoration of the radio for the 1952 B20. It was a vintage Autovox, model RA15L, a rather heavyweight from the time. Its restoration was interesting: first, three vintage radio restorers in the US wouldn't touch it. Finally found a vintage radio buff in Trieste willing to take it on! Not so easy these old parts!
He had to hunt hard, but found a power diagram somewhere, and a power source on Ebay, then proceeded to rebuild in detail. He wrote up his work: https://www.depoi.net/en/2017/restoration-autovox-car-radio-lancia-aurelia-b20
John Cundy wonders if someone at Lancia had a sense of humor:
"Had it occurred to you that all B10 based Aurelias have 10 hole wheels and B12 have 12......and on the s.3 the exhaust manifold to exhaust pipe flange has three bolts and s.4 has four?"