Lancia is known for building Italy’s most exquisitely crafted, cleverly engineered motorcars. Their meticulous attention to detail often led them down a path of financial struggle, but the principles set forth by founder Vincenzo Lancia drove his engineers to create some of the most influential automobiles of all time. Many of Lancia’s pre-war innovations such as independent suspension and monocoque chassis culminated with the revolutionary Aurelia of 1951.
Development of the new flagship began during World War II, with the first production models arriving in 1951. Since 1919, Lancia experimented with monocoque chassis construction, which naturally evolved into the new Aurelia. In conjunction with the rigid floor and body was an independent suspension system, with trailing arms in the rear connected to the aft-mounted transaxle. Not only did the transaxle setup give the Aurelia exceptional handling balance, but it also allowed for a low driveshaft tunnel, limiting intrusion into the cabin and providing room for six passengers in the Berlina models. Other features included inboard rear brakes, and the world’s first production V6 engine complete with hemispherical combustion chambers. As with nearly all Lancias, the B10 Aurelia debuted as a four-door Berlina, with the B20 coupe, B24 spider, and coachbuilt models following suit.
To demonstrate the capabilities of its revolutionary new GT car, Lancia entered four B20 GTs in the 2-liter class of the 1951 Mille Miglia. Straight away, the Aurelias showed clean heels to the rest of the 2-liter field. When the torrential rains came, the B20 GT of Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli began to close on the leaders, most of whom were in machinery with two or more times the displacement of the Aurelia! After a genuinely heroic drive, Bracco and Maglioli clawed back over five minutes on the leading 4.1-liter Ferrari, closing the gap to just 20 minutes when the checkered flag fell after 13 hours of racing. With the sensational second-place overall in the Mille Miglia, the Aurelia became an instant hero to thousands of Italians. More success would follow in similarly grueling events like the Carrera Panamericana and Targa Florio where the Lancia's deft handling and reliability paid off in dividends. The Aurelia remains a popular choice for today’s retrospective events, and enthusiasts covet these remarkable automobiles for their performance, quality, and exquisite beauty.
Proudly offered here is one of the earliest known Aurelia B20 GT coupes in existence. Chassis number B20 1047 is from the first batch of 98 pre-production models, and the Italian Aurelia Register believe this to be a rare Viotti-built example. While the Aurelia B20 is widely regarded as one of Pininfarina’s masterpieces, the earliest pre-production cars were constructed by Carrozzeria Ghia or in the case of a handful of Aurelias, Carrozzeria Viotti. Dispatched on the 18th of July, 1951, chassis 1047 was finished in beige metallizzato over a nocciola (hazelnut) fabric interior. It remained in Italy through the 1990s, where it was later restored and updated with the desirable floor shift and early style sports manifold with twin Weber 32 DR 7 SP carburetors. After the Italian restoration, the car spent time in England before coming to the United States. In 2014, it received a major mechanical service and tune, before being offered for sale on the West Coast. In the hands of the most recent owner, the Aurelia traveled to the East Coast, where it was handed over to the specialists at Automotive Restorations, Inc, to receive a high-quality restoration totaling over $100,000. The body was taken down to bare metal, the metalwork carefully repaired and corrected, and resprayed in this striking shade of bright red. Furthermore, a full retrim of the interior was done, along with further mechanical sorting and tuning.
Still fresh from its 2017 restoration, this fabulous Lancia Aurelia presents in outstanding condition. Unadorned and free of unnecessary heavy chrome trim and clutter, the body is straight and crisp, with excellent panel alignment. Brightwork and fittings have been restored as needed, to include correct finely refurbished bumpers, fluted Carello headlamps, and amber fog lights, and restored color-keyed steel wheels, proper Michelin X radials, and new alloy wheel covers.
As part of the recent work, the interior has been completely retrimmed using Fawn leather on the seats and panels. The upholstery remains taut and supple, showing only light use since the project completed. The instruments are a particular highlight of the cockpit, with distinct green numerals on a metallic gold background, all set into a body-color metal fascia. A new, original-style Aurelia steering wheel was fitted at considerable expense, replacing the cracked original. It also retains the preferred floor shifter, which best suits the sporting character of the B20 GT Coupe.
Records show this Aurelia had further mechanical sorting by Automotive Restorations, with work including rebuilt carburetors, new rubber fuel lines, rebuilt distributor, and freshened suspension bushings. The 1,991 cc V6 engine presents in superb order, with good quality finishing and detail under the bonnet. Few cars of the era compare to the Lancia Aurelia for sheer driving pleasure, and this superb and highly desirable example is sure to please its next keeper. Likely among the earliest surviving B20 GTs extant, it is eligible for virtually any prestigious driving event, including the Mille Miglia, where Bracco and Maglioli cast the legend of the Aurelia nearly 70 years ago.
Offers welcome and trades considered