On May 19, two fervent Lancistas, Fabrizio Granaroli and Paolo Battistelli, organized a conference on the Lancia V4 in Sangemini, Italy, a small midieval town in the mountains outside Rome. Several people spoke, including Luigi De Virgilio, Gianni Tonti, Fabrizio and myself (via skype).
Luigi spoke on some of the more unusual V4 engines designed by his father, Tonti on the racing developments of the Fulvia, Fabrizio on some balancing and engineering issues. I spoke on the history and development of the V4, in particular the design of the heads (intake passages), the blocks and the crankshafts.
The conference was well attended, with about 100 people in the audience. Several interesting Lancias were outside (including a Lambda), amid a festival celebration. A video of the talks is at www.SaveLancia.it, or youtu.be/P7z6NlPdhRQ
For those seeking a more in-depth understanding of the suspensions, there is now John Cundy's recent writeup on Lancias and handling. It was published in Viva Lancia, the magazine of the EnglishLancia Motor Club (England), and is an articulate explanation of the sliding pillar and IRS in both the Aprilia and Aurelia. It places these developments in historical context, and includes explanations of Olley, a famous supension designer at Rolls Royce and GM, and his understanding of the Lancia design. Also included is information from Rolls Royce's inspection of the Lambda, a little known fact from 1926. Read it here, found at the bottom of the page: Articles
Recently I was able to visit Nigel Trow, a long-time Lancia friend and historian in Wales. He convened a lunch of several friends, whom I call the "West of England/Wales Lancia Brain Trust" including John Cundy, Ron Francis, Paul Mayo, Roland Grazebrook and spouses, among others. Also finally met John Baker, the former owner of an s.2 B20 - we had been in touch many years ago, so it was good to see him in person.
It was rare to see everyone together - but having only known these folks for some 10-15 years, my experiences were decidedly junior to the rest of the table. Nigel and Roland have known each other since the mid-1960s, more than 50 years. The amount of Lancia knowledge at the table was daunting, rivaling other Lancia meetings in Italy.
The next day, Nigel and I drove up to see Ron Francis, who Nigel has said is "a Welsh farmer who grows Lancias", with parts tucked away here and there; the following day we went to see Roland Grazebrook, to learn about Thetas, massive bronze carburetors, and the intricacies of the early cars. All good fun.
New page on color information added under Reference, with paint codes from Max Meyer, Glasurit and Lechler. Not for the faint of heart. Its a confusing subject!
Sent by Massimo Fila, this period video shows several Aprilias on a long rally, ending up in a ski resort outside of Torino. Other rally cars include a Porsche, several Alfa Romeos and Fiats. Toward the end is some great footage of an Aurelia berlina bouncing along some rough roads, and a Lancista admiring the views. Great context footage of the roads and cities in 1950s Italy, thanks to Centro Storico Fiat.
Took the B20 in for a few things. Exhaust gasket had let go, luckily had a spare, easy fix. brake adjustment, seems like it always wants this. A few cables to be tightened.
Most interesting was adjusting the rear shock absorbers. Thanks to William Corke's posting on the LMC site, we were able to find how to adjust the shocks. He showed where the little adjustment tab was on the shocks, under a little cover, and settings varied from fully closed to two turns open.
We tried one turn as a middle setting, and it was way too soft, so in the end, we settled for just 1/4 turn open on both sides (one had been fully closed, the other a bit open). The change was lovely - the car is back to its comfortable, but informed, ride and no more jarring over rough bumps.
Key to this is also setting the tire pressures. Too often people think firmer is better, and set them at 30psi. The real setting is 25psi, and the sidewalls at this setting provide part of ride comfort. Its important to those of us who live in cities, with our less-than-perfect roads. Set right, the ride is just right. One can always firm things up for the high speed runs on smooth country roads.
All good for now!
More from Massimo Fila, long-time Aurelia owner who helped with Enzo Russo's “Piloti Biellesi. Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli”. He writes: "This was a present from Lamberto Grolla to me, with his personal dedication “A Massimo, riesumatore di Aurelia - MM 1951". He was a friend of mine and my family. We all belong to the city of Biella." He also sent this image of Bracco's s.1 B20 1006, getting loaded on an airplane to the Carerra Panamerica. Notice the lowered roof.... Nice!
And then Massimo driving his B12 in the 1982 Targa Florio:
There are a few Chicago-area shops that work on Italian cars, but the Lancias tend to go to Autosprint - Gianni D'Avola has "magic fingers", a feel in his hands to solve those thorny Italian car problems. Maybe something to do with growing up in Sicily, but Gianni gets it done.
We were poking around in one of the back rooms one afternoon, and I was impressed by all the special tools. Internet chatter about hub pullers for Lancias (and other cars), never comes up with Gianni and now I know why - he's got a lot of pullers, for the the Lancias/Alfas/Ferraris he works on. And even for the Citroen Traction-Avant.
Beppe was a special person. A dignified gentleman, long active in the Registro, he had a deep relation with and love for Aurelias, going back to seeing the Aurelia Corsas at the Mille Miglia in 1952. He said that he had driven more than 1,000,000 kilometers in Aurelias, but its likely the truth was at least double that.
He was a good friend, sadly we were separated by distance. We first met in 2000 at the Aurelia rally in the south of France, which he attended in a berlina with his family. A few years later, I visited his mechanic in Como, and Beppe drove up from Milano to join us for an afternoon and discuss camshafts. My son and I had the pleasure of joining him and his lovely wife, Chiara, with Anthony and Lorna Hussey near Siena for a few days; they came to Chicago once on their way back from Alaska.
At an Aurelia dinner in Padova in 2015, each of us spoke briefly of our experiences. Beppe stood up, shucked off any time limits, and movingly spoke from the heart, passionately embracing the car in our lives. We were all captivated.
Beppe was close to his cars. His s.3 B20 was one of the very few seen with an original Nardi kit, fitted with Solex carbs, perfectly tuned, sweet and tractable. He enjoyed overhauling and tuning Aurelia carburetors. His B20 was fitted with wood knobs, new from Pinin Farina. His B50 cabriolet was an Aurelia without any vibration. Once asked how this was done, he went into detail about how one had to match up the driveshaft parts carefully and do the work oneself. This was from a man familiar with the banking industry, at one time active in Modena supplying interiors for Maserati.
And his knowledge was impeccable: who else knew that early B22s had been supplied with B21 engines as the new engines weren’t ready? And could provide the 8 page Lancia advisory issued months later instructing on how update your engine to the new specifications (change the camshaft, change the manifolds, etc.).
He and his friend Francesco Gandolfi tended to the Registro for all of us, no easy task in the details. He helped guide the forming of the De Virgilio book, At the Center, advising on how to navigate the complexities of the Italian landscape. He urged the book be in English, recognizing the tradeoffs - that a bilingual edition would have less content, and that it was important to deepen the understanding of the Aurelia for a broader audience. It was a gutsy call from this thoughtful man, one who was comfortable making good and firm decisions.
He and his elegant wife, Chiara, represented the depth of character that we so often find around these cars and this marque. He will be sorely missed. We have lost another giant. Our condolences go out to his family.
Every once in a while, its time to look at something different. Here is the bottom of an 8C Alfa, taken at Jim Stokes Workshops in England. Lovely.