- Displayed at the Geneva and Turin motor shows in 1953
- A unique Pinin Farina concept on the rare Aurelia B52 chassis
- Offered from 46 years of enthusiast ownership
- Recently completed 10-year restoration
- An award winner at premier national concours d’elegance
Est. 90 bhp 1,991 cc DOHC V-6 engine with dual Weber 32 DR7 SP carburetors, four-speed manual rear-mounted transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 114.5 in.
PININ FARINA EXPLORES THE JET AGE
By the early 1950s, as Pinin Farina’s reputation began to soar on the success of the Cisitalia 202, the company became an increasingly popular destination for well-heeled customers to body the sporting chassis of their choice. In addition to customer-based orders such as these, Pinin Farina (like most carrozziere) indulged in styling exercises that were used for promotional purposes at auto shows and the day’s finer European concours d’elegance.
At the Turin Motor Show in the spring of 1952, Pinin Farina debuted a new concept car built on a Lancia B52 Aurelia chassis alongside their freshly redesigned Nash-Healey. The B52 chassis is notable in that only 98 examples were constructed, and all were sent to bespoke coachbuilders for one-off or limited-run production. 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.
Each PF200 varied slightly from the last, with only the prototype featuring the circular nose. Succeeding versions were constructed with more elliptic noses, 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.
The PF200’s styling did not go unnoticed by the public, and it spurred the build of at least two more similarly styled cars on American chassis. Jazz impresario Norman Granz saw the prototype PF200 Roadster at Turin in 1952 and ordered similar bodywork on a Cadillac 62 chassis, while Pinin Farina took their design a step further with the Palm Beach Special of 1956, which was built on a Nash Rambler chassis.
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 B52-1052: THE PF200 C
Chassis B52-1052 is the second of what is believed to be three open-top examples of the PF200. It debuted at the Geneva Salon in March 1953, nearly a year after the prototype’s introduction at Turin. The so-called PF200 C was slightly more ornate than its predecessor, as it had chrome hashes behind the doors and featured an oval nose that was not yet chromed (copying that of the first PF200 Coupe, shown at Paris the previous fall). This newer roadster also 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 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.
As photos of the car at Stresa reveal, by September 1953, the Lancia had been equipped with a full windshield frame, complete with a top edge, 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, and following ownership by a California-based enthusiast, the car was acquired by a friend of the consignor, a Michigan-based automotive engineer, who bought the car in 1968. The PR200 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 the consignor to Florida when he moved there in 1996.
After becoming acquaintances with restoration specialist Tom Palisi, of Tarpon Springs, Florida, whose father was a significant figure in the local Jaguar community, the consignor considered the prospect of a full restoration to this unique PF200 C.
Mr. Palisi meticulously disassembled and bagged all of the 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 maroon paint. The front axle and the transaxle were sent for a rebuild to Luciano Sanzogni, of Sarasota, Florida, a former Lancia apprentice with years of experience specializing in Italian sports cars. 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 well-known importer Kjell Qvale, of San Francisco, California.
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 items that could not be sourced. Accordingly, Mr. Palisi hired a local aviation machinist who specialized in such challenges to fabricate numerous pieces. 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 diamond-pattern trunk mats, and a correct Autovox radio was rebuilt from two original units that were sourced.
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.
This rare and magnificently presented Aurelia B52 has been owned by a single caretaker for the past 46 years, and it offers collectors 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. The car boasts a sensational restoration and impressive attention to detail, which were based on the input of two of the foremost Lancia experts in the United States.
The PF200 C is arguably the most beautifully realized version of the PF200 design, with its ornate rear-fender chrome hashes and thru-bumper tailpipes. It is a singularly exquisite, 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.