Lancia history
Written by: Marc Vorgers/ ClassicarImages 

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Lancia & Co. was established in the year 1906 in Turin, Italy.
Vincenzo Lancia founded his firm in cooperation with his friend and colleague Claudio Fogolin. Vincenzo Lancia and Claudio Fogolin both worked as technicians and racing car (test) driver at the Fiat motor company.

The first Lancia prototype was damaged completely by a fire in the factory so the first Lancia automobile was presented a year later; in 1908.
The first Lancia was the "tipo 51" which was named Alpha (The "A" in the Greek alphabet). In the following decades Lancia would be naming lots of cars with capitals out of the Greek alphabet. The Lancia Alpha was fitted with a cleverly constructed small four cylinder engine with a capacity of 58 bhp. Those days an enormous capacity!

The Lancia automobiles were known for being extremely fast and characteristic by design. Between the years 1910 and 1920 Lancia primarily built fast middle class tourers. The firm was an active innovator and always ahead with technical and mechanical solutions.
One day Vincenzo Lancia found himself on a ship in a monstrous sea. Seeing the ships hull fighting the demonic waves he stated; a car should be as firm and strong as a ships hull... This wet experience and the idea of the ships hull inspired Vincenzo to develop a car with a unitary bodywork structure... This car, the Lancia Lambda, was presented to the public in the year 1922. This was the first car ever built with a unitary body structure; body and chassis finally merged...
Mechanically the Lancia Lambda was also far ahead of the contemporary competitors. The car featured a unique V4 engine with twin overhead camshafts, independent front suspension and brakes all round.
The Lancia Lambda was extensively tested in the Alpes.
The light car with stiff bodywork and powerful engine proofed to be blessed with excellent road holding capabilities!
The Lambda was built with several bodywork variant until 1931 as it was succeeded by the Lancia Dilambda.
The Dilambda was a step back in time concerning the concept; the car was constructed with a separate chassis again. Those days it was common to buy a rolling chassis on which specialized firms created the bodywork for customers. The Lambda came too early, the industry was not ready so Lancia returned to common ground with the Dilambda... The Dilambda was fitted with an eight cylinder engine. Up to 1936 Lancia built the models Augusta, Astura, Arteria en Ardea. These cars were bodied by the famous Italian bodywork specialists.

In the year 1936 the unitary bodywork structure was introduced again (14 years after the introduction of the Lancia Lambda) with the presentation of the beautiful Lancia Aprilia.
The Lancia Aprilia featured independent suspension all round (!), hydraulic brakes (!), drum brakes placed near to the differential at the rear (!) and an aluminium V4 engine (!).
Next to designing and producing road cars Lancia was also very involved in building racing cars... Lancia racing cars were very often fitted with new innovative constructions which had to prove their value on the racing track.
Amongst others the famous racecar driver Emmanuel Fangio drove for Lancia in the fifties of the twentieth century. He also drove the Pan America race in 1953.
In fifties of the twentieth century Lancia built it's most beautiful automobiles ever. These cars were far ahead of the competition with their unitary bodywork structure, V4 and V6 engines with overhead camshafts and all the innovations Lancia developed for the succeeding models.
The Lancia Appia Series 1 and II (1953-1959) was a beautifully designed compact car which was mechanically less complex than the other contemporary Lancia models. Between 1956 and 1962 various stunning specials were built, by Pinin Farina, Zagato and Vignale, based on the Appia.

In the year 1950 the Lancia Aurelia was presented to the public. The Aurelia was available as saloon model (B10, B21, B22, B12), from 1953 also as 2+2 coupe model (B20-2500 GT), and from 1954 as Spider and Convertible models (B24).
The Aurelia B20-2500 GT and the Aurelia B20 Spider are the absolute highlights in the Lancia history and both were designed by Pinin Farina!
The Aurelia series was succeeded by the Lancia Flaminia series in the year 1957.

 

With the Flaminia series Lancia introduced a very luxurious automobile in the top range. The Flaminia was another Lancia showcase of innovation and the cars featured beautiful designs. Because of the expensive technical and mechanical components the Lancia Flaminia was a very expensive automobile. 
The Lancia Flaminia series featured: independent suspension all round, De Dion rear axle with integrated gearbox (transaxle), disc brakes all round and an aluminium 2775 cc. V6 engine. We identify the following Lancia Flaminia models:
The Flaminia Berlina (1957-1970), the Lancia Flaminia Coupe (1958-1967), the Lancia Flaminia GT/ GTL (1958-1967) and the Lancia Flaminia Sport and Super sport Zagato (1958-1967)
All Flaminia models together a little over 10.000 were ever built.

In the year 1960 a new model was born; the Lancia Flavia.
The Lancia Flavia was positioned between the Lancia Appia and the Lancia Flaminia model series. With the presentation of the Flavia model series  Lancia introduced it's first front wheel drive car. The decision to use front wheel drive was made from economic point of view; the construction could be built less complex and considerably cheaper. The Flavia was also fitted with a less complex beam rear axle. The brake system was state-of-art again; disks all round with a dual circuit brake system. In 1965 fuel injection was introduced for the Flavia model series.
We identify the following Lancia Flavia Models:
Lancia Flavia Berlina (1960-1966), the Lancia Flavia Coupe (1962-1968), the Lancia Flavia Convertible (1962-1969) and the Lancia Flavia Sport Zagato (1963-1967).

In the year 1969 the financial position of Lancia was very bad. The expensive, advanced automobiles generated not enough profit to survive, there was no chance Lancia would survive on it's own so the make was taken over by FIAT.

In the year 1969 the Lancia Flavia Berlina and Coupe became available with slightly redesigned bodywork and a new engine; the V4 Fulvia engine. The modernized Flavia was built until the year 1974.

In the year 1963 the Lancia Fulvia was presented to the public. The Berlina model shows a great resemblance with the Lancia Flavia Berlina. The Lancia Fulvia was ftted with the smaller V4 engine powering the front wheels. The Lancia Fulvia series was fitted with independent suspension and disc brakes all round. In the year 1965 the show stopper in the Fulvia series was presented; the Lancia Fulvia coupe... the HF version of this car has won many, many international rally events.
The Lancia Fulvia was also available as Zagato Sport model. 

In the year 1970 the unique Lancia Stratos saw the light of day. A Bertone designed futuristic show model which was chosen by Lancia to compete in the international rally championships. The Stratos proved to be very successful just like the Fulvia HF... 

Between the years 1972 and 1984 the following Lancia models were presented:
The Lancia Beta (Berlina, Coupe, Spider, HPE and Montecarlo), the Stratos successor Lancia Rally 037 and the Lancia Gamma saloon.

Click here to view a selection of classic Lancia models in the ClassicarImages archives.


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