Its not easy to understand the role of the B24 back in the 1950s. There are movies, such as Il Sorpasso, where the car is slightly out of sorts, still sporty, but with mismatched body work, as if it were the property of an out-of-sorts playboy.
Shown here is the B24 Spider accompanying the 1955 Moto Giro, as a filming car, all done under the Taruffi umbrella. All good fun, but I'd rather have the car than the motorbikes!
Flavia 2000 joined the roost, for cruising around the midwest, take on trips. A bit of the Gentleman's Espress. Wife says its cute and the most reasonable one brought home. Not all bad...
A friend sent me this link: 160 pages of Lancias in the movies. What is nice about this is that it can be sorted by model, and you can look for 1950s films quickly. For finding movies of your favorite 3Ro.... Try looking at in list form, more easily viewed (and only 24p then). Also, the first couple of older cars may be a bit off, but still fun to see them all.
Lancia buffs have long agonized over the evolution of the marque. Some would identify the 1950s as its heyday in the 1950s, and the 1960s as a period of evolution to a more contemporary or modern lineup, with the Fulvia successful but also the less-so Flavia. The products through the 1970s and 1980s can be considered as a complex response to difficult marketplace, but also to incorporation of new engineering and managment approaches from Fiat.
It can be useful to see these difficulties in other companies as well - for comparison and to expand our understanding of what happened. Recommended is a three part series on the evolution of Jaguar, on the site Driven To Write. Insightful and cogent, analysis focuses on Jaguar evolution from about 1980 through 2010, a more recent time than Lancia's, but equally difficult. It was a struggle with contemporary styling and product alignment while trying to work out how to update their own traditions, issues quite similar to Lancia's. See the last part of the three part series (most recent), but the others are on their site:
Recently there was a Flaminia Berlina up for sale, and a number of friends were discussing how lovely it was, and how interested all of us were in it. That, plus some interest in the Flavia 2000 coupe, has heightened attention to the issue of conservative design, and build quality.
Recently came across a related couple of interesting articles about Mercedes 2 seaters, with in-depth study of the design for the 230/250/280SL of the 1960s and the 350SL, of the 1970-80s. The writing is very good and can inform the thoughtful Lancista. Well worth reading and sharing:
In 2019, I was asked to come to Castlemaine and give a talk for the 100 year anniversary of the Lancia Kappa. Not knowing so much about the Kappa, the occasion was an opportunity to dig into the history of the early Lancias, the pre-Lambda cars, and see what was to be learned from them.
The position that emerged was somewhat different than that previously understood: the typical understanding was that the early cars were well made, even interesting in their own right, but not of the experimental or radical nature of the later Lancias, from the Lambda one.
The approach taken was different, in that the whole of the Lancia undertaking, from 1907 to 1922 was seen as a single period of exploration and invention, of ideas tried and some abandoned; but that once seen all together, the work of that time set up and gave rise to the inventions and innovations of the Lambda. Seen another way, the breakthroughs of the Lambda, and its sister, the Trikappa, did not come from nowhere - and that to understand them, one had to assess the origins of such independent and different thinking. And that those origins were in the early years of the company, if one were to look closely for them.
A written version of the talk can be found as Emerging Traditions, here: Articles
Just discovered this... hard not to be fascinated. 1955 and everyone was there... Fangio, Stirling Moss, Taruffi, Hawthorne, Ascari, etc...
Been a long period of silence. Part of that is winter, much of it is Covid, and busy with other things. Regarding Lancia activities - a few things to report:
- the book, Lancia and De Virgilio, At the Center, is in the process of being reprinted. It is very close to shipping, with copies to be made available either from Gilena, a bookstore in Brescia (for the European markets) or from myself here in the US. Just to be clear, this is simply a reprinting, with only a few minor errors corrected; it is not a 2nd edition. It is being done as the book was sold out, and there have been repeated requests for copies.
- I have also been working on a study of Lancia's V4s, their balancing and their crankshaft designs. Many people have helped over the years, and apologies for the very slow pace of this effort. It is quite detailed but a booklet has now been completed and being put into printing. More on that soon.
Took the B20 out for a spin yesterday, the car was quite happy to be out of the garage. Its been joined by a Moto Guzzi V7 motorcycle (the newer type), which tries not to gloat too much about the benefits of fuel injection and modern electrics. The Alfa which was here for a while has gone to a new home in California. Too many little things kept needing attention.
Hoping everyone is well in these difficult times. May things improve.
Nothing too exciting, but the odometer just turned 85k kilometers. When the car was restored in 2008 it was around 60k, followed by 5 years of trouble with few miles, so call it 2013 before things got really rolling. So about 3500 kilometers per year or 2000 miles for the past 7 years. Decent enough! This shot was on a wintry day, about 35 degrees F, with an early morning 50 mile drive. Put a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator so the engine gets to stay warm (else it just runs too cold, and there is no heat). B20 in December, no snow!
This past weekend, local mechanic Giovanni lent me an Alfa GTV, a 1974 2-liter, for a few days while he's doing replacing some bushings on the Aurelia. I was admiring the GTV's lovely lines and its compact package, a nicely proportioned 1960s design on the old 105 chassis. Its a lot of fun for the young-at-heart, with a great engine and trans. Given nice roads, nice car - and even with a few rattles and wind noise. Not a Lancia, but worth appreciating.
A comparison of dimensions tells an interesting story. Assuming they are correct (assembled casually from web data), the following can be gleaned:
These GTVs are quite popular in the States, similar to the Porsche 356 or other cars of that period. Its easy to live with, and fun to drive, although missing some Lancia refinements!
Last week some sad news came in about the passing of Howard Moon, eminence grise of the American Lancia world. Howard was a champion of the Aurelia back in the 1970s, and he captured the spirit of both the American Lancista (a rare bird) and the Aurelia in America... no small feat. He was a very savvy man, had a long career in the CIA, and was quite a private individual. If you had been around Lancias for a long time, you would know Howard. I am only sorry to have known him casually, and not better.
And from Pete Vack, of VeloceToday, a couple of quotes from his article "Lanciana and Friends" from 2014. The article can be found here: velocetoday.com/lanciana-and-friends/
"And of course the indomitable Howard Moon, who was editor of Lanciana from 1968 to 1975 and contributed 1977 edition was printed in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Aurelia. His article “The Aurelia Mystique” kicks off the Snyder reprint and remains as good an explanation of the Aurelia as any. This is followed by another classic commentary of his trip from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C. with a low mileage Aurelia Convertible in 1977, a voyage which had all the elements of an Italian opera. He decided to do the drive with the top down as, “…having been last erect in 1972 and six hours of persuasion with crowbars and hydraulic jacks on its badly bent frame confirmed it had shrunk far away from the windshield anchors. Collectors, I suspect, pay more for open cars because they are no compelled to drive them. Experience indicated that up to about 45 mph, a light shower would become an exquisite and maddening variation of the Chinese water torture, the raindrops drilling with exaggerated momentum into the forehead, then draining into the eye sockets, pausing thoughtfully to fog up eyeglass lenses on the way..” It was too bad Road & Track already had Henry Manney III for Moon would have been a delightful substitute.
and yet there was more from his friend Pete:
"....Forever ensconced in the Lanciana files and written for the 20th Anniversary of the Aurelia in 1971, was a Moon piece entitled “Dementia Aureliana”, a humorous and all-too-true psychological look at the foibles of those addicted to Aurelias. He writes, somewhat autobiographically, “The Aurelian desires the company of his own kind, because his fellow sufferers are the only human beings with whom he has now anything in common….he cannot trust them and is openly fearful that they will make off with his tools, photographs, brochures, or headlight rims.”
Howard was a special person, to be missed. His son, David Aruda, is working with Howard's church for a memorial. Will post any info when available.
Was up at Autosprint, the local Italian car shop, old school kind of place - they actually do the work you expect! Gianni and I were looking over a steering box for the B20, thanks to Chris Gawne. There were some cars in the shop: a 308, a TR replica on a 250GTE chassis, a Testarossa, and a Giulietta.... a nice group of red cars. Maybe they all knew each other.
Surprisingly, went by last week, and took this shot. If I didn't know better, it looks like Chicago is turning into a small "Lancia city"! Who would have thought that?
Still trying to figure out how to list blog archives, but here is a start (I think):
A while back, Luigi De Virgilio and I undertook to figure out how Lancia balanced their crankshafts for the V4 engines. It took a couple of years, and a lot of work, plus deep insights and guidance from John Cundy. Needless to say, it was written up, but...its not quite good enough. Probably have to finish this up (yes...). In the meantime, here's a teaser: part of the work included 3D models of all the V4 crankshafts. And once you have the model, why not make a print?
March 1 suggests spring is here. We know that it may snow tomorrow or that the weather is fickle, but for the day it was 55 degrees, and clear. So starts the ritual of getting the B20 up and running, after some months of slumber. Pull the air cleaner, prime the carburetors with electric pump, a bit of starter fluid, and it starts! I'm not sure why, but my B20 has a rough cold start, usually 3 cylinders or so for a few minutes. Maybe the compression is a bit high (9:1) or the early Weber single barrel carbs, and no choke. But start it did, and after about 10-15 minutes of warm up, off for the first drive of the season.
Normally a bit wary, as the car has been sitting, can be stiff, even a bit disappointing perhaps. But not this time: the B20 (as usual) read the mood, and decided to be absolutely flawless: brakes, suspension, engine, everything worked just as it should. No creaks, rattles, or anything off. Just a lovely 20 mile drive down the shores of Lake Michigan, amid traffic, but also some good speed work. What a great car - hard to imagine how it was at the time. Like a lovely violin - just on note. And a big thank you to the wizards of Turin.
A glorious display of the Aurelia recently opened at the MAUTO, formerly the Biscaretti and now the National Auto Museum) in Torino. Called 70 Anni di mito senza tempo (70 years of myth without time), the celebration of the Aurelia opened with a press conference on Jan 30, and a public opening the next day. Eighteen cars are on display (including all 6 series of the B20) and much rare and interesting material. The show was curated by Massimo Fila Robattino, who noted that the Aurelia can be considered “un momento magico nell’evoluzione dell’automobile”.
Talks were given for about 400 attendees, with presentations by Francesco Gandolfi, Cesare Fiorio, Luigi De Virgilio, and Mike Robinson. Aldo Brovarone (now 94 yrs old) told of work at Pinin Farina in the 1950s. Significant members of the Italian automotive community were also in attendance, including representatives of the Pininfarina family, the Pirelli Foundation, and the Lancia and De Virgilio families. For more information, see Motori Quotidiano with details on each of the cars:
Some of the press, including articles in La Stampa:
Shots from the show, taken by Giorgio Perottino:
The cars presented:
Over time, one begins to recognize the different Lancia groups around the world. With luck, sometimes there is a chance to visit some, each with its own character, strengths and individuals. I first became aware of this early on: there were few Lancias in Chicago, and all wisdom was elsewhere. Parts were in Pittsburgh with Tom Sheehan, his parts manager Walt Spak, and restorer Bob Williams seemed to know just about everything. Algar, the official importer and parts supplier at the time (this was in the early 1970s) was in Philadelphia. East Coast reunions were an opportunity to meet the Lancia gurus from Boston to Virginia, including Howard Moon, Michael Miller, and Armand Giglio. A trip out west revealed another world of Lancias, with two centers in California, one around Los Angeles, the other north, around San Francisco. This all made sense, with America as a land of two coasts (with winding roads) and a large flat middle.....
Other centers became known, first was the wonderful and unusual world of English Lancias, with the Cliffes of Omicron, Nigel Trow, Ron Francis, Paul Mayo, Roland Grazebrook, Tim Burrett and others. These folks have been into Lancias for decades, and their knowledge is deep. Next found was in Italy, both more full and yet oddly more disconnected. I had spent time in the 1980s meeting Basso, Maglioli, even Carlo Chiti, but a deeper understanding of the Italian communities came while doing work on De Virgilio. There were vastly different groups, in Torino, the Veneto, and Rome, just to name a few, and they didn't really communicate with each other very much.
The Sliding Pillar Rally, held on alternating years in England and northern Europe, brings together members of the Dutch, Belgian, French, German and Scandinavian countries. Recently, its become clear that the Dutch have their own community, anchored in part by Wim oude Weernink. The German group has some clear strengths as well, but is largely unknown to me. The center for Augusta owners might well be Belgium, with some 10 or so Augustas there, due to the van Hooricks.
Lambda owners know well the Australians: some 17 Lambdas were at Castlemaine this year, and Bill Jamieson's book, Capolavoro, played a part in that. Recently, the Lambda work by Joachim Griese, Bill Jamieson, and more recently, Sebastien Simon, has effectively pulled a world-wide Lambda community together. When they started they thought perhaps there were 100 Lambdas around; now there are some 400 involved. There is a very active Lambda community in England, and they regularly trek to Fobello for their significant and sizeable reunions there (one coming up in 2021).
In the US, Fulvias are well represented by Ed Levin in Los Angeles, who promotes, defends, and explains the brand on the internet with fervor and dilligence. As Fulvias are still affordable, there is still broad hobbyist interest in them. Aurelias are more awkwardly placed - too complex, and now too expensive, for the casual hobbyist, many have found their way into serious collections but are not part of the current internet chatter. Support for Aurelias exists around the world, but is scattered: the Italian-based Registro serves largely only that community; others find support locally. The English are well served by Thornley Kelham, Omicron, and others. In the US, Aurelia knowledge is dispersed, not centralized, with California still having a reasonable support system; the east coast likely gravitates around Dominics, a shop in NYC. Recently a few have surfaced in Chicago, likely due to Giovanni D'Avola's good service and my own talking them up.
Support for other models varies whether before or after Aurelias. The Aprilia community stays in touch with each other; there's likely an Astura support group somewhere. Flaminias and Flavias can be worked on by knowledgeable garages, and parts can be found, so perhaps they have less group support than other models (although Facebook is now having marque groups with some success, to foster world-wide communication). All in all, there is a good wide base of Lancia interest and support around the world; parts come from Cavalitto in Italy or other places, but with the internet and email, communication has never been simpler.
What is missing is any central support system for these cars. I'm not sure what that means, or what it would look like - whether its based on parts, people, models, or places. I just thought it worthwhile to list a few examples of our different groupings and connection points. Comments are welcome.
PS - a friend offered the following thoughts:
"People are key, and for each car type they form a community (local or global, depending on their interest and level of faith). Consider it in terms of a religious metaphor:
Not a bad metaphor, even if terribly non-PC....
From the Australian Lancia newsletter comes a link to this history of Stola, a wooden modeling firm in Turin. Located next door to Lancia, the two companies were closely associated from 1919 on. Stola made wooden models of cars, interiors, parts, etc. While we can't make a direct link from Lancia designs to Stola models to final product, their early photos give understanding of the early processes and workings at Lancia and Turin at the time. The link is a history page from 1919 to the present, quite long, but you can browse by decade. The early years are most interesting, but even later work on the Flavia, Alfa and Ferrari is fascinating. Thanks to Hannes Swaton for this.
Every two years the Australian Lancia community hosts a very large Lancia rally a bit north of Melbourne. It is a long way from Europe or the US, and one might wonder why would anyone go so far to see some Lancias? The event is different than one might suspect - first, there are a remarkable number of cars - this year there were 95 Lancias (!) including roughly 4 Kappas (one was a pretty complete chassis), a Trikappa block on display, and 17 Lambdas. Apart from some massive Italian reunion held every five or ten years, I think this is the biggest ongoing Lancia gathering. The Sliding Pillar rally in Europe (it alternates between the mainland, often Belgium or northern France and England) is almost this sizable, limited only (I think) due to accommodations.
Yet Castlemaine has other attributes that make it special. There is a week long tour afterwards, and cars (yes, vintage Lancias) are arranged for the overseas guests to drive. As one of the organizers said, "the natives are friendly". Very much so.
They have a guest of honor, to speak (hopefully with some knowledge) on some aspect of Lancia history to the gathering on Saturday afternoon (the weekend starts on Friday, extends to Sunday, the tour starting on Monday). I've had this honor twice, this time on the event of the Kappa's 100th birthday. The talk was attended by about 120 people, and went well. Of interest was such a full range of cars - practically all series of B20 were represented, practically every model from the Kappa on (Augustas, Aprilia, Ardea) with the exception of Artena and Astura (an Artena/Astura/Lince special in construction was seen later).
And then there is the wealth of knowledge. There are several older members of the Lancia community (referred to by some as the Lancia royalty), who were more than happy to share their wisdom, including Bill Jamieson (Lambda historian), Peter Renou, Paul Vellacott (been around Lancias since the 1960s), John Doyle (in Turin from 1968-1978, key to Lancia findings from then, interviewed Falchetto), and others. Then there are the expert engineers, including John Shellard with his Kappa and Lambdas, John Brennan and Iain Simpson (Lambda), Andrew Torti with the earlier cars, and Andrew Cox and Noel Macwhirter (Aprilias). Add in a few overseas experts, such as Gerald Batt (all Lancias, especially Lambdas), Angela Verschoor (Flavia and Lince), John Milham (Lambda and Augusta), Sebastien Simon (Lambda and Aurelia) and Paul Tullius (too many to list!), and it's a pretty special group. And they all speak English!
Needless to say a great time was had. Chris Long was generous enough to lend his lovely Aurelia B20 s.6 for us to tour in, so we were in good comfort - except for the afternoon when we chose to drive Iain Simpson's Lambda in the open air, blessed with sleet and rain. Well worth it, highly recommended. Nice people, good cars, lots to see and do. Time flies when you are there. Never enough time to talk to everyone.
For the 70th birthday of the Aurelia, a big show is planned at MAUTO in Torino (formerly the Biscaretti) early next year. Organized by Massimo Fila, a longtime Aurelia owner, it will feature many cars, and much interesting information. I believe there is a cocktail party for Aurelia folks for the opening - which I think is February 1. Should be a great event! Please attend, or at least send a dozen of your best car friends....
Early Aurelia fasteners, used for interior trim work, are quite difficult to source. There are a surprising number of them. Using the correct ones separates a proper restoration from the others.
William Corke has put together a list of those used in the B10, likely similar to the ones used for other Aurelias (early B20s, possibly B12). While some of the sources are likely out of date, the information is worthwhile and detailed. His spreadsheet can be found at the bottom of this page: Parts
Was up for a short visit to Elkhart Lake for the vintage weekend in September, stayed at a small B&B and parked next to this American icon. A 1965 'Vette Stingray, belonged to the same couple since 1971. They used it as a daily driver, painted it themselves. The car was gorgeous, even had a luggage rack. And had a lovely drive home on Saturday morning. No stress, winding roads and Wisconsin countryside at its best.
Recently uncovered in Holland is this absolutely lovely Astura Ministrale, a stretched body on standard mechanicals. Its mostly all original, paint, interior with the roll blinds, electrics and and mechanicals. The details are fantastic - bakelite knobs, wood trim, alloy bonnet and doors. Then there are the details - holders for small accessories on the sides, map storage, etc. Just a wonderful period piece...
Timing the cam on the Aurelia can be a bit challenging. The factory method, as outlined in their data sheets and found in the Aurelia manual, sets the timing from the point of opening and closing on the lobe (typically no. 1 intake) and places the cam a certain distance from TDC on the crankshaft. This is not an uncommon approach and was used by other manufacturers of the time, but its not one recommended here. The problem is that many cams have been either remade and reground, or made anew, and its not clear that the beginning point of action on the lobe is at exactly the same point as on the factory original. And a little variation means a lot.
Another way is outlined by Martin Cliffe of Omicron, and can be found in the Aurelia workshop manual (see Paul Mayo for your copy). This method is used more commonly today. Cliffe's excellent writeup outlines all timing issues on the Aurelia, with the first part relevant here. He outlines how to set the timing from point of maximum lift of the lobe - the "Maximum Opening Point" (MOP). Imagine a symmetrical lobe, with its central axis as the point of MOP. That then is located against the TDC by a given degree distance.
Giovanni D'Avola, was rebuilding an Aurelia engine at Autosprint, his shop in Chicago. He has worked on Lancias, Ferraris and all Italian cars for years. He source a new cam from Cavalitto, and to set it up right, the following process was used:
1) find TDC. Done with a degree wheel and measuring the top of the cylinder. Degree wheel zeroed for TDC.
2) find central axis on lobe by measuring from both sides of the lobe, that is, bracket the central axis.
3) keep chain taut using a chuck in the tensioner. Also rotate in one way (clockwise) so the chain doesn't back off as this can distort the readings significantly.
4) locate lobe centers for both intake and exhaust for one cylinder.
5) place Intake MOP after TDC per formula (see Martin Cliffe article for figuring). For this cam, Intake MOP was 120 degrees ATDC but only for this s.5/6 cam, it is different for other cams). If cam timing is unknown, the cam can be placed by determining a middle between Intake and Exhaust MOP, and placing this middle at a known event (such as TDC of the compression stroke) when both are equally closed. Check with your own cam folks before doing.
6) the results were checked by mapping the opening and closing points for intake and exhaust valves, and comparing these with the factory settings noted from the beginning. Its not so important the opening/closing points be exactly the same (as these points vary depending on clearances used), but rather that lines drawn on the degree wheel between opening and closing moments (both for the factory settings and as observed) are parallel. See drawing below (done by Charlie at Autosprint) for both intake and exhaust - all very good. In the end, its all buttoned up as the engine is close to running.
and here are some of the cars at Autosprint: