10-11 March 2017
A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith
1953 Lancia Aurelia PF200 C Spider by Pinin Farina
- Chassis no. B52-1052
- Engine no. B21-4843
Sold for $1,248,500
- The 1953 Geneva and Turin Motor Show car
- A unique Pinin Farina concept on the rare Aurelia B52 chassis
- Ten-year restoration to exquisite condition, with further recent improvements
- Well-known enthusiast history for decades; an exceptional example
- 2015 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este Class Winner; FIVA Identity Card
- Prominently featured in Donald Osborne’s Stile Transatlantico/Transatlantic Style
At the Turin Motor Show in the spring of 1952, Pinin Farina (later, simply Pininfarina) debuted a new concept car built on a Lancia B52 Aurelia chassis alongside their freshly redesigned Nash-Healey. Pinin Farina’s new Aurelia was abundant with Jet Age styling cues and featured a protruding circular nose with a large chromed bezel, reminiscent of the intake of an F-86 Sabre fighter plane. A raked windshield, pontoon-style fenders, and uninterrupted beltlines led to a finned tail that had six individual exhaust tips emerging immediately above the rear bumper.
This unique roadster was dubbed the PF200 and was the first of a short run of similarly styled cars that Pinin Farina built over the next four years, which all featured the signature gaping nose and general proportions of the first Turin car. This run principally consisted of two more open-top cars and three to four coupes.
No two PF200s were identical, with only the prototype featuring the circular nose. Succeeding versions were constructed with more ovular shapes, while some had standard tailpipes, and others featured the bumper-through exhausts of the original Turin car. Even the three open cars varied from one another, as one had a removable top and side curtains (in true spider fashion) and the others featured wind-up windows and a more permanent soft top.
With a fire at the Pininfarina factory reportedly destroying a fair amount of documentation, including the individual records of the PF200 examples, definitive original sources regarding the model are scant, but it is believed that no more than a total of eight cars were produced, with perhaps just over half of those surviving today.
CHASSIS NUMBER B52 1052: THE PF200 C
The second of what is believed to be three open-top examples of the PF200 built, chassis number B52 1052 was shown at the Geneva Salon in March 1953. Slightly more ornate than the original prototype, it had chrome hashes behind the doors and featured front bumperettes that were directly underneath the headlamps, rather than in the inboard bumper arrangement of the prototype. It is the only car of the entire run to feature a nose badge that reads “pf200 C,” prompting speculation that this car was conceptually positioned as a competizione version of the style. It was equipped with a two-position windscreen and omitted wind-up windows, for a more sporting appeal.
The PF200 concept again appeared the following month at the 1953 Turin Motor Show. As with the other PF200 examples, this Aurelia was constantly being updated by Pinin Farina, as evidenced by minor changes from appearance to appearance, including sometimes being finished in different colors. Following its appearance at Turin, B52-1052 was next photographed at the Stresa International Concours d’Elegance in September 1953, where the car won a Grand Prize Honor. A placard commemorating this win was mounted to the dashboard, and this original distinction continues to grace the car today. By this time, the Lancia had been equipped with a full windshield frame, complete with a top edge that features a charming ‘blip’ curve in front of the driver, as well as wind-wings and a hood deflector (à la competition cars). The presence of Milan license plates reading “MI 215522” suggests that this Spider had been purchased and registered by a private owner at this point.
By the 1960s, chassis B52 1052 was imported to the United States. Following ownership by a California-based enthusiast, the car was acquired by a friend of William Borrusch, an American automotive engineer from Michigan, who bought the car in 1968. The PF200 C was in strong overall condition at the time of this purchase, and it remained in this ownership for over the next 30 years, eventually following Mr. Borrusch to Florida when he moved there in 1996.
Soon thereafter, Mr. Borrusch began restoration with specialist Tom Palisi of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Mr. Palisi meticulously disassembled and bagged all of the car’s parts. The body was acid-dipped and minor corrosion areas were removed and re-fabricated, after which Mr. Palisi treated the exterior to a deep finish in elegant maroon. The front axle and the transaxle were sent for a rebuild to Luciano Sanzogni, of Sarasota, Florida, a former Lancia apprentice. The brakes, suspension, and wiring harness were each properly rebuilt.
Several highly regarded authorities in the American Lancia community were consulted during the restoration, including Mike Kristick and the late Walt Spak, both of whom were instrumental in sourcing numerous correct parts. As the original motor was beyond recovery, Mr. Spak hunted for an authentic Aurelia engine and was fortunate enough to locate the block from the PF200 coupe that had been owned by Kjell Qvale.
Mr. Spak saw to a complete rebuild of the replacement engine, which included the installation of many new parts, such as pistons, rings, sleeves, and other such components. This work included sourcing the proper shorter carburetors and unique offset air filter, both of which were mandatory acquisitions for the concept car’s hood to properly close, as the original Aurelia engine was not designed to be used in such a diminutive compartment!
As this Aurelia is a one-off concept car, many of the trim pieces were essentially irreplaceable elements that could not be sourced. Accordingly, Mr. Palisi arranged for the fabrication of numerous items. He also ensured that the unique exhaust setup, which had been blocked off at the time of the consignor’s 1968 purchase, was properly routed to newly chromed pipes. The windscreen, top, and curtains were all carefully rebuilt using components from the originals, and all of the frame pieces were beautifully chromed. The interior was reupholstered by Rudy Bailey, of Tampa, Florida, who also sourced authentic NOS Pirelli trunk mats, and a correct Autovox radio was rebuilt from two original units.
The exacting restoration, taking roughly 10 years to complete, was finished in early 2013, and no expense was spared. This stunning PF200 C was presented at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. Johns in June 2013, where it won First in Class and The Art that Moves Us Award, and the following March, the car took home another class award from the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Subsequently acquired by Orin Smith from Mr. Borrusch, the Lancia has continued to be shown and enjoyed, with selective improvements that included the installation of a new glass windshield. Most prominently, after receiving its FIVA Passport, it was accepted to the renowned Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in 2015, and was judged Class Winner in the “Hollywood by the Lake” class. It then returned to Florida for the 2016 Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance, where it won Best Open Pre-War Car and People’s Choice. More recently it was prominently featured in Donald Osborne’s important work, Stile Transatlantico/Transatlantic Style, with photography by Michael Furman.
Today still in exquisite show condition, this spectacularly restored Lancia presents collectors with a unique opportunity to acquire an important, one-of-a-kind Pinin Farina show car, one that proved to be a styling influence on many cars to come. It is a singular, award-winning collectible that would crown any collection or design study, and it is eminently worthy of both museum exhibits and world-class concours d’elegance.
AddendumPlease note that the Elegance at Hershey has kindly extended an invitation for this car to attend their event on June 9-11, 2017. Please refer to an RM Sotheby's representative for additional information.
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