Monterey | Lot 238
1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America by Pinin Farina
$1,250,000 - $1,500,000 USD
| Monterey, California
16 August 2019
- The ultimate specification of Lancia’s finest road car
- One of only 181 left-hand-drive examples built
- Exceptionally equipped with rare Fontana low-roof hardtop and desirable Nardi intake
- Freshening by marque experts Tony Nicosia, Jan Vroboril, and Gilberto Clerici
- Eligible for the Mille Miglia, Colorado Grand, and the California Mille
- Displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
The 1950s were rich with some of history’s most beloved open sports cars, from the barchettas of Ferrari and Siata to the roadsters of Porsche and Jaguar. Despite the frequency of such models, one car now stands above the rest for its advanced mechanical components and voluptuous design—the Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America.
Introduced at the 1955 Brussels Motor Show, the latest Aurelia was intended as a sporting model, as it was built on a chassis more than 200 mm 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 jewellike aluminum engine generally considered to be the world’s first production V-6.
Rolling chassis were dispatched to Pinin Farina for one of the coachbuilder’s most successful and celebrated designs. The B24 Spider America featured beautiful expressive elements 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.
This beautifully presented example of Lancia’s classic spider displays the benefits of a well-maintained restoration conducted during the 1990s, as well as copious attention from respected marque experts. Chassis no. 1044 is believed to have been originally finished in grigio over burgundy leather and 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 purchaser is 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. 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 so renowned for his automotive expertise and joie de vivre.
Milo sold the Lancia to Luciano Bertolero, a respected jeweler and collector based in Turin, Italy, and the spider was then completely restored 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 and a re-trimming of the interior in dark blue upholstery. The car is also accompanied by an extremely rare color-matched Fontana low-roof hardtop.
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 the consignor, an Aurelia enthusiast based in Europe. As attested by invoices, the current owner has invested an additional $108,000 of freshening services, including attention by the U.S.-based Lancia expert Jan Vroboril, 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 rakish Fontana hardtop, this breathtaking Aurelia 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.