- One of 47 examples believed to have been built, of which two are known to survive
- Features artful Giovanni Michelotti styling and exquisite craftsmanship
- Benefits from advanced Lancia engineering, including its numbers-matching V-6 engine
- Beautifully restored under prior ownership and carefully maintained ever since
- Winner of the Lancia post-war class at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Established in 1921 in Turin, Italy, Carrozzeria Viotti found success by building both exclusive commissions for wealthy clients and more attainable, yet still high-quality, vehicles in somewhat larger quantities. This flexibility helped Viotti survive in the wake of World War II, when the coachbuilder introduced the “Giardinetta”: a functional, wood-bodied wagon that could, at least initially, be built on repurposed older chassis. As author Alessandro Sannia notes in his survey of Viotti, “Giardinetta” has since become a generic Italian term for “station wagon”—but it was company founder Vittorio Viotti that coined the word, trademarking it on 6 May 1946.
Much like the wood-bodied station wagons created by American manufacturers in the post-war era, these utilitarian vehicles also served as a canvas for the craftsman’s art in an era when coachbuilding was fading from prominence. Indeed, they soon become fashionable luxury items, prompting Viotti to create refined versions on higher-end chassis. This included Lancia’s advanced Aurelia platform, which combined a powerful V-6 engine with a four-speed transaxle.
Although records are imprecise, it is believed that as few as 47 examples of the Aurelia-based Giardinetta were completed by Viotti, and only two, both on the B53 chassis, are known to have survived to the present. Along with the Fiat and Alfa Romeo-based Giardinettas built by Viotti in this period, the Lanica wagons wore attractive styling by Giovanni Michelotti, according to Sannia; the Aurelia B53 variants benefit from a four-door configuration with rear coach doors.
According to correspondence on file between Davis and the Registro Aurelia Italiano, this car had at some point been donated to a convent in southern Sardinia, where it was used to haul supplies. By the late 1980s, it was apparently in quite a sorry state; it was saved from total ruin by a restorer and subsequently refurbished at great expense after its purchase by an Italian enthusiast. Fortunately, it retained its numbers-matching engine, present to this day.
No effort was spared in the effort to conduct an accurate restoration, including the re-creation of the interior’s distinctive chevron-patterned upholstery cloth and the paintwork presented in Verde Scuro Metallizzato. Fortunately, the only other known surviving Giardinetta was available for use as a reference, and the dazzling overhaul was completed by the spring of 1990. At the time of Davis’ acquisition in 2008, the Lancia remained in stunning condition; entered in the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Giardinetta was rewarded with a first in the Lancia post-war class.
Still immensely appealing today, this 1952 Aurelia B53 Giardinetta is now offered from the Oscar Davis Collection complete with vintage skis and poles sit atop its roof rack—charming period accessories that evoke a carefree weekend trip to the Alps, and hint at the many adventures that await the fortunate next owner of this delightful coachbuilt Lancia.