Listing of errata is added to the "Books" section of the website.
Those in Lancia and De Virgilio were corrected in the 2nd edition; those in Balancing are noted, and a bit more difficult to understand. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.
Just back from a west coast Lancia reunion up in Oregon. Between wanting to see some other friends, hosted by friend Ed Godshalk (with his pal Rick Warner). It was good to see Chris and Anna Long, Paul and Vicki Tullius, Jeanne and Steve Katzman among others. Also to connect with Cory Youngberg and Hank Koenig, meet Jim Gillis. Saw some neat cars too, much we're known previously. Nice original 1.2HF, B24, Cory let me drive his lovely Appia Sport - a very sweet car. Simpler but still special. Other aspects included a ride in a t. 37 Bugatti too. An hour in that is pretty close to fundamental bliss. Very special. We visited a winery, the big aero space museums, saw the "Spruce Goose" up close. Pretty amazing bit of technology from the 1940s. Impressive.
Ed asked me to give a Lancia presentation - showed Fobello images, and a quick run through Lancia history. Lots of things they had not seen before, and seemed to be enjoyed.
The group went to the Forest Grove Concourse on Sunday, and the Tullius Casaro Lambda took home some glory. Well deserved.
All in all, a lovely time. Not to mention some yummy oysters by the ocean.
MAUTO is the rebranding of the National Automobile Museum in Torino, one of the best in the world. It has a wonderful (massive) collection of cars and a very good library. In the recent Lambda fest in Torino (2022), we had a celebratory dinner there, and were able to walk around and see displays. A couple of weeks later, I went back, worked in the library but also was able to see some rarities in the basement. Some highlights are shown here.
Its been a long time since posts, apologies. Perhaps a brief update is due.
In the fall of last year (so long ago), Lynne and I went to Italy to join a Lambda fest in Turin, which then went up to Fobello and La Monta, the Lancia family home. We had a great time, saw lots of friends from all over the world, and got to hang out with die-hard Lambda friends. It was remarkable seeing the cars do so well, especially on the long winding road up to the lancia house. There was a Lambda chugging up a steep inclines, already with 6 people - we hopped on, making it 8, and the car didn't even notice. You begin to understand the world of Lancia when you see where the family lived.
Following the rallies, seeing Trikappa V8 running, and other jewels, I returned to Torino and dove into the archives at both Centro Storico and MAUTO. Found some gems of ancient history, and have been working with that information ever since. Highlights include finding (finally, after 10 years of looking!) the drawings for the 1919 narrow V12 engine. There is one example on display (and has been for years), but it has never really been understood or examined in depth, as the drawings were unavailable.
Back at home, work has focused on an early history of Lancia prototype engines, their first V engines - from 1914 to 1922, oddly starting with the aero engines, two V12s, three V8s, and then ending with the early Lambda. Its a history full of detail, but (for me) interesting to see their design thinking evolve. Its an unusual take, but it seemed needed - as there has been no explanation of how Lancia got from their in-line four cylinder engines (1907-1921) to the narrow V, introduced in 1919, and put into production in 1922. If anyone is interested in this, let me know. Happy to share thoughts. The draft text is well underway, but it takes time - lots of things one has to be sure about.
Driving events have been minimal - a three day tour with the Flavia by the Mississippi River and the hills of southern Wisconsin, but not much else. Headed to the West Coast reunion in a few days (and a talk), then Castlemaine in October. Between some construction at home and family issues, a European trip seems to have been put on hold. More later...
Car activity here slows down over the winter, but now its nice out (45 deg F) and so hope for spring emerges. The Flavia has been getting some love, and now is running strongly. A recent outing led to both throttle return springs declining to participate, so it was an adventurous return home. But all is fixed now and the car is quite happy. Hardly anymore more to do.
(tripod-mounted camera gave this image - full of mechanical richness....)
The Lancia community has been blessed by some very wise and knowledgeable folks. However, some of these are up in the years, and we would do well to recognize their knowledge and be aware of how lucky we are to have them.
Several of these "wise men" deserve special recognition: they have held the community together with their knowledge and contributions. Many are in Great Britain:
Others lost include Guido Rosani and Beppe Regazzoni in Italy, and in the US, Bill Stebbins, Walt Spak and Bob Williams of Pittsburgh. Bill was a former Boeing engineer who could see through the Lancia complexities with clarity; Walt had been Tom Sheehan's parts manager from the 1970s, and knew every part by name and number; Bob was the best Aurelia restorer in the country, having studied Lancia originality for many years with Walt).
Our wise men are not so young - so please go visit them, pay your respects, raise a glass, give them a hug. Treasure them for many years of Lancia love and their irreplaceable knowledge.
OK, they aren't Lancias, but they are still examples of superb engineering.
Talking about Millers, the great American race car - a total of about 150 made, but was the beginning in the US of DOHC straight eight (from 1920 or so). Miller's shop foreman was Fred Offenhauser, and the Millers became straight fours, as the Off engine, dominating Indy races into the 1970s.
Each year they (and other race cars) gather at America's oldest race track, up in Milwaukee. Been going up since 1996 to see them. Pete Vack of Veloce Today decided to run a short story on them, which you can find here: velocetoday.com/millers-at-milwaukee/
Older Lancias are not common in the US - by older, meaning pre-Aurelia or Appia. So any chance to see one or go for a ride is a treat. A recent visit to New York led to an afternoon in the Connecticut countryside with two Lancia owners, Judy Stropus and Chuck Schoendorf.
Judy is a legend in the auto sport world - having been involved in high level PR for racing teams for many decades. She's one the few people who could time multiple cars on a track by herself - up to 30 or 40 cars running, and all back in the day of three or four stopwatches. Amazing.
She got the Ardea about 10 years ago, its her only "other" car. Its been in the New York area since Iggy Franciamore brought it over some decades ago - Iggy was a Lancia's serviceman in the 1960s, going around the US in a Jolly van, taking care of Lancia cars across the country. He even visited us in Chicago.
The 1952 Ardea has done the California Mille in years past, and is a happy runner in its blue paint. Its accompanied here by Chuck's Aprilia berlina, from 1938, which apart from newer paint, is very original. Chuck was good enough to chauffeur for the afternoon, and the Aprilia was well behaved in 90 degree heat, without discomfort.
Lovely to see the two cars and enjoyed the afternoon with two lovely people as well.
The site is driventowrite.com and it has some very good writing. Its from Ireland and England, and they share a fascination with Lancias, among other things. Two authors of note - Eóin Doyle, and Richard Herriot. I worked with Eóin on his Flavia article, and there was some pretty good discussion in the comments section. Richard wrote the following:
10 Nov 2021 at 08:06I read this
The attention to detail in an old Lancia is astonishing. Maybe some other marques have got close but I´ve never read about it. I suspect Bristol have some of the same thinking but the cars are not beautiful. A Lancia is to me more than a car; Lancia at its best is an unusual mix of the romantic and the rational. You have have some higher, emotional value to drive the intensely rational focus on factors like refinement, longevity and delight-to-use. Pretentious as it will sound I am forced to note that Lancia embodies the 3 Vitruvian principles. I recommend Geoff Goldberg´s site for further perusal. Perhaps the one snag is that it puts in perspective the fondness I have for the later cars such as Trevi, Dedra, Thema and Kappa. They are still charming but they fall a long way short of what was achieved before Fiat´s dead hand took a hold.
Like his fondness for this site, and also for both the romantic and the rational, and anyone who links Lancia to three Vitruvian principles (firmness, commodity and delight) is A-OK in my book!
Some great shots of the 1970 Stratos Zero introduction.... with models too. Glamour, and lots of it.
Early images of B20 body manufacturing are hard to find - the exact processes used at the time are rarely seen in photographs. Found in the Pirelli archives were these images of B20 production at Pinin Farina, published in their magazine, c. 1952. And the caption clearly recognizes the combination of artisanal craftsmanship and larger scale production, a fascinating aspect of these Lancias:
"The bodywork of the Lancia Aurelia b20 is built in the Pininfarina plant with a series of work that brings together the results of various artisanal productions."
Reading technical drawings is not everyone's interest. Our appreciation for the cars is more often in driving them or working on them. But the Lancia drawings give one an insights into the thinking behind them - what was on their mind, what did they study, how did they resolve things. Its not for everyone, but it can give understanding to why things are so well worked out in their cars- things just don't seem to happen by accident. They are well resolved. And that happened at many stages along the design and construction of the cars; the drawings are one part of a larger chain of operations.
Make no mistake - Lancia - both in their engineering, construction and also their design, used what one might call "big firm" standards (like Fiat, or other major manufacturers) for their products even if made in small numbers. For example, there is a very detailed engine bay and chassis drawing for the Aurelia B50, an incredible drawing about 6' long, that must have taken weeks to resolve - all for a production run of some 800 chassis. They never cut a corner in their products - and their drawings are all carefully and meticulously done.
This became first evident in the Aurelia parts books, where exploded isometrics (orthogonal projects, which remain dimensionally true) revealed the overall assembly. It became clear that the Aurelia parts books were more interesting than the later ones, as the drawings were more artful - illustrated originally with pen and ink. Rationality came to the later models, with Fulvia and Flavia parts books as mere technical documents.
The best piece technical documentation (including its drawings) was the workshop manual for the 3Ro truck, put out 1939-1940. Likely commissioned by Italian military, the book is about 400 pages, with lots of illustrations (including 6 pages on how to set up your diesel injection test bench, and about 20+ pages of special tools); the highlight are some 12 color technical drawings (many are foldouts) that are just superb. I was turned on to this book by an Italian ex-Fiat executive who sold me a number of Lancia truck parts books (used for research!) and he told me "you simply have to have this", bent my arm, and sold it to me. Couldn't be better.
Lastly, there are the factory drawings in the archives in Torino. These are the most esoteric, and for those not trained in reading these kinds of drawings, the hardest to appreciate - but they are (to these eyes) often the most interesting. It is possible to trace (sometimes) to see what was tried and abandoned, and even how things evolved over time. While for some these can be the driest of all, in other light they provide insights into the design room where our dear cars were dreamed up and very carefully executed.
One thing to note about Lancia drawings is that technical excellence was reflected not only in the level of definition (perhaps common to other manufacturers of scale), but that things were worked out in detail on the drawings - there was no "lets figure it in the shop". Things were studied, and resolved - likely changed with input from the shop floor, but the drawings "held the course".
Two other interesting things about them - first, the revisions and notes give indications as to what they were thinking and what changed. A most interesting example was the adoption of De Virgilio's revisions to crankshaft balancing for the Aprilia and Ardea - his studies were completed in December of 1947, and the changes to the drawings were February of 1948. You can almost feel the revision happening.
In addition, Lancia cared about their drawings, and hired highly skilled draftsmen. This can be seen in the delicacy of the linework, and the little details which would not be part of a production house (say Fiat), but were part of the designer's code of the time. Thoughtful design engineers put their ideas down onto paper - and traces of that can be seen.
Lastly, some of the drawings (especially the studies) are lovely to look at. They are compositionally well constructed, and clear. All in all, if one has the patience, Lancia drawings are yet another way to understand the cars and why they are so interesting.
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 Express. 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?