August 25, 2009

Lancia Aurelia

A little history

After the war, Lancia faced problems rather similar to those encountered by Alfa Romeo, and that we discussed earlier. Unlike their neighbour from Turin though, Lancia also built “popular” cars alongside its pricey pre-war coupes and convertibles, so restarting its production lines after the end of World War Two was somewhat easier.

By 1949 the small Ardea and the larger Aprilia, both powered by the V4s that were customary at Lancia, were starting to look outdated. The latter was replaced by the brand-new Aurelia in 1950.

You have probably noticed the care I took above when associating the word “popular” with Lancia. The products of this company were and still are a sort of rich man’s Fiat. The Aurelia was faithful to this image, offering no less than six cylinders for 1.8 litre of displacement. Being a Lancia, the Aurelia’s engine had to adopt a “V” configuration, thus the Aurelia became the world’s first production car fitted with a V6. This block was made of light alloy, as for any other technical options the modern Aurelia, designed by the famed engineer Vittorio Jano, proved bold and imaginative, despite a rather tame appearance.

As soon as 1951 the Aurelia already evolved, with both its engine (to 2.0 litres) and its range (to which was added a coupe) growing. The coupe was particularly remarkable, and became the best remembered of all Aurelias. Using a slightly more powerful version of the saloon’s engine, it was designated “GT” – the very first automobile to call itself a Gran Turismo. Its body was up to expectations, featuring particularly elegant “pontoon” lines that are often, but wrongly, credited to Pininfarina – though this company built the cars, they had been actually designed by Ghia. In 1953 the engine was enlarged again, to 2.5 litres. Two years later, a beautiful “Spider” roadster was introduced. Nonetheless, the introduction of the Flaminia in 1957 announced the imminent retirement of the Aurelia, which was effective one year later.

About the model

Model: Lancia Aurelia B20 GT
Year: 1951
Maker: Solido
Scale: 1/43
Distributed by: Solido, “Âge d’Or” series
Acquired: brand new, in July 2003, in Brive, France

Who said Solido only builds poorly-assembled models based on moulds unchanged since decades? This splendid Aurelia is just proof to the contrary. Simple but accurate, it is fair to give it a 14/20 rating.




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