- The ultimate specification of Lancia’s most celebrated postwar model, and one of 181 left-hand-drive examples
- Retains matching-numbers engine; desirably equipped with Nardi intake and rare Fontana low-roof hardtop
- Tended by marque experts Tony Nicosia, Jan Voboril, and Gilberto Clerici; exhibited at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
- Documented with manufacturer certificate of origin and restoration photos
- Eligible for exclusive premium touring events including the Mille Miglia Storica, the Colorado Grand, and the California Mille
Introduced at the 1955 Brussels Motor Show, the Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America was built on a chassis more than 200 millimeters shorter than the standard fourth-series B20 GT. The B24 received most of the Aurelia’s advanced mechanical components, including front independent suspension, inboard rear brakes, and the jewel-like aluminum engine generally considered to be the world’s first production V-6.
Pinin Farina’s coachwork featured expressive design cues like the one-piece wraparound windshield, split bumperettes, cut-down doors, and pronounced fender curves. Buyers looking for added performance were able to order a special Nardi intake kit with dual Weber carburetors that improved compression and corresponding power. And while car is, naturally, most frequently pictured with its top down, a Fontana low-roof hardtop—a vanishingly rare optional period feature, and one that accompanies this car—gives the already attractive spider an even more uniquely appealing look.
This beautifully presented example of Lancia’s classic spider displays the benefits of a well-maintained restoration conducted during the 1990s, as well as extended attention from respected marque experts. According to a certificate of origin issued by Lancia, chassis number 1044 was completed in May 1955, finished in Grigio over Rossa leather. In all likelihood the B24S was dispatched to the marque’s distributor in America, the well-known Hoffman Motorcars in New York City.
Though the identity of the Aurelia’s initial owner is currently unknown, it is believed to have been owned early in its life by Lancia enthusiast Victor M. Ricci of Brooklyn, New York. By the summer of 1963, the Spider America was acquired by Eunice Griffith of Illinois, and she is believed to have retained possession for the following 32 years. In 1995, after three decades of ownership by Ms. Griffith’s family, the Lancia was sold to Raymond Milo, aka Le Patron, the late Los Angeles-based dealer renowned for his automotive expertise and joie de vivre.
Milo sold the Lancia to Luciano Bertolero, a respected collector based in Turin, Italy, and he completely restored the Spider in his workshop over the following three years. As detailed by an album of some 90 photographs, the Aurelia was treated to a comprehensive mechanical and cosmetic overhaul, the latter of which included a quality refinish in Azzuro (also applied to its hardtop) and a re-trimming of the interior in dark blue upholstery.
Following completion of the restoration in 1998, the Aurelia was sold to the Milan-based industrialist Terenzio Longoni, and he kept the spider for three years before selling it in 2001 to a well-known collector residing in Los Angeles, California. The buyer arranged for a number of upgrades before shipping the car to the United States, including the installation of a Nardi intake manifold with dual carburetors and Borrani wire wheels.
The Lancia remained in Southern California for the next 14 years while enjoying a life of dedicated care among the owner’s collection of rare European sports cars. Notably, in August 2005 the Spider was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as a display-only entry. The owner rarely drove the B24S during his period of care, but he nonetheless submitted the car to marque expert Tony Nicosia in nearby Oceanside to address various issues for utmost correctness. Over a period of a few years, Nicosia sympathetically freshened the brakes, gearbox, and electrical system, refurbished the Borrani wire wheels and metalwork, and addressed a host of minor issues. No major work was undertaken on the engine after it was tested and deemed to develop proper compression.
In 2015 the Lancia was acquired by an Aurelia enthusiast based in Europe who reportedly invested an additional $108,000 of freshening services, including attention by the US-based Lancia expert Jan Voboril, and by Gilberto Clerici, one of Italy’s preferred marque restorers. The car was then registered in the United Kingdom.
Utterly scintillating when fitted with the rare and rakish Fontana hardtop, this breathtaking Aurelia is fitted with its numbers-matching engine and continues to benefit from the well-maintained restoration. The stunning Lancia is one of just 181 left-hand-drive examples. Beloved for its spartan interior, sharp handling characteristics, and sensual coachwork, it would make an ideal entrant at major concours d’elegance and Italian car shows. Due to its early build date, the Aurelia is also eligible for some of the finest vintage driving events worldwide, including exclusive tours like the Mille Miglia, the Colorado Grand, and the California Mille. It would make a superlative complement to any collection, particularly suitable for roadster collectors or enthusiasts of important coachbuilt 1950s sports cars.