- Sophisticated Lancia engineering paired with delightful, lightweight Zagato coachwork
- One of 153 Appia GTE Series IIs believed to have been built; desirably fitted with covered headlamps
- Among the first five examples imported to the US by legendary dealer Max Hoffman
- Finished in Blu Lancia, a period-correct factory color, over a red leather interior; a wonderful combination
- Restored by Lancia specialist Chris Skriapas 2015–2017; retains numbers-matching engine
Post-war Lancias were well-engineered and thrilling to drive, yet the styling of mass-production variants of models such as the Appia was, while attractive, rather conservative. This changed with introduction of the second-series Appia in 1956, which brought sharply tailored offerings from Italy’s celebrated carrozzerias.
Of these, none emphasized the Appia’s sporting potential more successfully than the GTE by Zagato. The petite coupes retained Lancia’s signature 1.1-liter V-4 engine and four-speed gearbox, but the lightweight aluminum bodywork was radically streamlined. The prototype, the aptly named Appia Cammello (or “camel”) sported Zagato’s double-bubble roof; this feature had disappeared by the time the GTE, or “Gran Turismo Esporto,” debuted in 1958, but the new model was lower and sleeker, with aerodynamic elements including covered headlamps (a desirable feature lacking on most of the subsequent Series III cars). It is believed that 153 of these Zagato-bodied second-series Appias were produced in total. Several saw competition—including, notably, an example co-driven in the 1959 12 Hours of Sebring by none other than Walter Cronkite!
This GTE is understood to be one of the first five examples imported to the United States by dealer Max Hoffman. Its early history is presently unknown, but a 1965 Northwestern University parking sticker (preserved during the car’s restoration) indicates it soon made its way to the Midwest, as does a period key chain bearing an Illinois license plate number.
According to the late collector Ray Boniface, who would himself purchase the car in 1987, the car had been acquired by Howard West of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by the late 1970s. Boniface cherished his cars, rarely parting with them; the Appia would remain in his collection until 2012, when its current Ohio-based owner finally convinced him to sell. He would enjoy using the Lancia, then painted red, for daily driving duty in the warmer months until 2015. He then decided to have it restored.
Greece-based marque specialist Chris Skriapas was tasked with the comprehensive, no-expense-spared job, spanning 2015–2017. The engine (numbers-matching per the Lancia Appia Zagato Register) was rebuilt, along with the other mechanicals; chassis corrosion was corrected; and aluminum bodywork was stripped and repaired as needed. The car’s original color, Grigio Newmarket, was uncovered during this process, though an attractive Blu Lancia—a period-correct factory color—was selected for its exterior finish. It is paired with a red interior.
Since its restoration, the Appia has seen limited road use, and its stunning Zagato coachwork has dazzled showgoers at concours events including Amelia Island, Greenwich (earning the Speed and Style award in 2017), Hilton Head Island (achieving class and Automotive Design Excellence awards in 2018), and the Concours d’Elegance of America. Offered with photographs of its total restoration, this 1959 Lancia Appia GTE Series II by Zagato is worth consideration by any collector of rare midcentury sports cars.