- Bespoke, highly influential modern coachwork by one of Italy’s finest shops
- Documented by marque historian and former Pininfarina historical consultant Paolo Giusti
- Powered by its numbers-matching V-4 engine
- Rediscovered in 2010; benefits from a complete and total restoration
- Accompanied by Paolo Giusti report, Pininfarina press images, and Lancia Storico Production Certificate
LANCIA, PININ FARINA, AND ONE SPECIAL APRILIA
The Aprilia was a pivotal model for Lancia, and the last model completed before Vincenzo Lancia’s death in 1937. Entering production that year, the factory berlina had an advanced unit body, four-wheel independent suspension, and a remarkably compact narrow-angle V-4. With a structural engine bay and cowl, and a unitized sheet steel floor and rear, the platform provided torsional stiffness while allowing enormous design freedom for coachbuilders—including, of course, Pinin Farina.
As noted by the research of Lancia marque historian and former Pininfarina historical consultant Paolo Giusti, chassis 439-11844 was completed by the factory on 27 March 1947. Two weeks later, it was purchased by SVAM—the Lancia dealership in Modena, Italy—for the sum of 556,480 Lire. SVAM then immediately forwarded the bare chassis to Pinin Farina with the special commission to provide it with unique "2+2" cabriolet coachwork.
Giusti notes that the design bears the direct influence of lead Pinin Farina stylist Fedele Bianco, who clearly used this opportunity to improve upon his previous 2+2 cabriolet treatment which claimed top honors at the 1947 Monte Carlo and Cannes concours d’elegance. Aptly termed the “Speciale,” this prototype was clothed in a one-off aluminum body featuring sloping sides, open wheels, swept-back windshield, and a low profile.
The driver and passenger face a dashboard color-matched to the upholstery and set with a striking, unique composition in Bakelite and chrome. Because the spare wheel occupied most part of the trunk, foldable rear seats were necessary to provide adequate space for luggage.
With the lines of the windshield pillar and side window extending into the door cuts, it is as beautiful with the top up as with it down. Pininfarina press images from 1947 are on file, having been generously provided from Giusti’s collection.
TOO SPECIAL FOR PRODUCTION
After a disappointing interaction with Lancia’s governing board in late 1947 (who decided not to put the design into production), this Aprilia Special Cabriolet prototype was subsequently acquired by Roblou, a Lancia importer in Neuilly sur Seine, France, where it remained until 1965. Giusti laments that the car’s manufacturer suggested retail price when originally offered by SVAM was a reported 1,750,000 Lire.
The car was rediscovered in northern France in 2010 by the Belgian dealer Bernard Marreyt, and subsequently submitted to a thorough, three-year restoration in Northern Italy to the striking color scheme presented today, with a slate grey-blue exterior of medium red leather upholstery.
Importantly, an accompanying production certificate from Lancia Storico shows that the car’s present V-4 engine is numbers-matching to that unit listed on its original factory documentation.
This Lancia Aprilia is a highly significant Pinin Farina post-war design, while its advanced engineering makes it as usable and rewarding to drive as it is to admire.