Sold for $2,145,000 at 2017 RM Sothebys
The Lancia Astura was intrdocued in November of 1931 and served as a replacement for Lancia's flagship Dilambda. The outgoing Dilambda had an overall weight of 2,010 kilograms and was powered by a 3,960-cubic centimeter engine. The Astura had the same length but was lighter and more efficient and its engine had a reduced displacement, get a better power-to-weight ratio than the earlier car. The Astura also broke with the company's naming scheme of using letters of the Greek alphabet and instead name the new model after an ancient island castle south of Rome.
The Lambda had pioneered monocoque construction methods in 1922. The Astura, however, was designed for custom coachwork and was given a cross-braced box-section platform to allow wider design latitude.
Initially, the Astura had a single 125-inch wheelbase, but for the 3rd Series, two versions were offered. Nine hundred and eight were built as Lungo, with a wheelbase of 131 inches as the Tipo 233L, while 328 were constructed to Corto specification on a wheelbase of 122 inches as Tipo 233C.
Like its predecessors, the chassis had excellent torsional stiffness. The front suspension retained Lancia's sliding-pillar independent setup, while the rear axle was given friction dampers that could be adjusted via dashboard-mounted controls. A Bijur central lubrication system was provided. The 3rd Series also received a Dewandre brake servo and a 78-liter fuel tank. An option for late cars was a hydraulic braking system, built by Marelli under license from Lockheed.
In similar fashion to the Dilambda, the Astura had a narrow-angle V-8 engine. Initially at 19-degrees with a displacement of 2,604 cubic centimeters and producing 73 brake horsepower at 4,000 rpm, by the introduction of the 3rd Series in 1933, it had grown to 2,972 cubic centimeters at an angle of 17-degrees 30-minutes, in which form it produced 82 brake horsepower at 4,000 rpm.
The narrow-angle engine was compact and narrower than a convention V-8 and shorter than an inline - with a single cylinder head. The head a cast iron lower section and an aluminum upper section. In between was the camshaft driven by a triplex chain with tensioner. The engine was given an Autokleen oil filter which rotated a cleaning cylinder every time the engine was started.
The engine was mounted into the chassis on four rubber isolators.
The 3rd Series Astura weighed 1,500 kilograms, while the bare coachbuilders' platform came in at 960 kilograms. Lancia suggested that coachbuilders limit bodywork weight to no more than 460 kilograms.
The 3rd Series Asturas were not decided for competition, but that did not stop privateers from racing. In 1934, a Castagna-bodied Astura was driven to 10th place in the Mille Miglia by Mario Nardilli and Carlo Pintacuda. Later that year the same pair won the Giro d'Italia, a six-day, 3,534-mile circuit around Italy, finishing the grueling event in 65 hours, 57 minutes, and 6 seconds at an average of 53.58 mph. Another Astura driven by Giuseppe Farina and E. Oneto finished third.
The Lancia Astura was designed to receive the best custom coachwork available in the 1930s. Pinin Farina was among the first companies to body the Astura. These luxurious cars gained notoriety after the Mussolini regime made them official government transportation.
This third-series short wheelbase, or corto, Astura is one of the most photographed Lancias in the world. Its Pinin Farina body were designed by Mario Revelli di Beaumont, who took full advantage of the narrow-angle V-8 engine. It was commissioned by a Lancia dealer in Biella who ultimately ordered a total of six Bocca cabriolets in both corto and lungo chassis.
The exterior is finished in pale grey paint with blue upholstery and power-actuated convertible top. This vehicle is one of 328 Corto versions produced on the short-wheelbase 122-inch platform.
The proportions of the short wheelbase 233C are impossible to duplicate in the more common long wheelbase models. On note are the door in the center of the body, curved door glass and the two piece V-windshield, each half individually hinged to fold down as desired. The original color of Off-White was refinished in a darker color when the car was presented as a gift of the Italian government to the German government.
The mechanical engineering was quite sophisticated for its time but not widely recognized outside of Europe. It has a sliding pillar front suspension and oil filled rear shocks controlled by a knob in the driver's compartment. The single head, 2604cc, V8 engine is an 82 horsepower marvel. It has a screen oil filter that rotates 17 degrees each time the starter is engaged, and an internal water pump driven by a triple row timing chain.
It was shown at the 1936 Salone del l'Automobile, Milano on the Pinin Farina stand. After the Milan Auto Show, it was acquired by Ghiara & C., Lancia's main agent in Genoa. Ghiara sold the car to Cav. Piero Sanguineti, a local industrialist, for about 75,000 Lire. In May of 1937, Sanguineti displayed the car at the inaugural Concorso d'Eleganza per Automobili, San Remo, where it received a class award.
The car was later purchased by Emil Uebel, Lancia's German distributor, who apparently kept it in his main facility in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Its whereabouts during the War are not fully known. In early 1947 it was purchased by Barney Pollard, as part of a package deal with two steam locomotives. Pollard shipped number 33-5313 to the United States and kept the car until 1980, when it was sold to Armand Giglio. Mr. Giglio retained the car for two decades, selling it in 2004 to an owner in Connecticut. At this point in history, the car was mostly original except for an older repaint. The new owner undertook a restoration of the wood framing, as well as some body preparation work. It was then sold to Orin Smith in late 2011, who commissioned a complete restoration to concours standard.
The completed car won Best in Class at the Classic Sports Sunday at Mar-a-Lago, and People's Choice at Amelia Island, both in 2013. In 2014, it traveled to Italy where it was judged Most Sympathetic Restoration at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Recently, it the car was exhibited at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, as part of their 'Rolling Sculpture' exhibit of advanced streamlined design.
High bid of $375,000 at 2010 The Branson Auction. (did not sell)
In 1930, Battista 'Pinin' Farina established his company, in part with an investment from Vincenzo Lancia. Farina quickly created a reputation with the bodies he designed for the newly introduced Lancia Astura. The smooth shapes and elegant designs quickly became styling trademarks for the newly formed company.
This Astura was built on a 1934 chassis and is one of a series of six cars with similar styling commissioned by a Lancia dealer known as Bocca. This car, chassis number 33-3277, was sold in 1936 and the original owner is unknown. After World War II, the car was in the United Kingdom and in the ownership of the chief engineer of BOAC, the British national airline. By the 1960s, the car sat abandoned in a garden in Surrey. It was discovered there in 19962 by Ronald 'Steady' Barker and Michael Scott. Barker showed a photo of the Astura to Mr. Farina, who made a generous offer - if the car could be brought to the Pininfarina facilities near Turin, Italy, he would have it restored at no cost to Michael Scott. Just a year and a half later, the work was completed. This was the first time the Pininfarina Company had ever done a restoration.
The car was retained by Mr. Scott until May of 1976, at which time it was sold to musician Eric Clapton, one of several Asturas he would own. At some time in the 1980s, the car was offered for sale at auction where it was purchased by Pininfarina for the factory collection. It would remain there until purchased by the current owner through a friend who has a close business relationship with the firm.
The car is powered by a V-8 engine that displaces 2973cc and breathes through a 2-Barrel Zenith carburetor. The 82 horsepower is sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox. There are four-wheel drum brakes and an independent front suspension. There is a laid-back grille, balanced teardrop fenders, recessed door handles, and a long wheelbase. Inside, there are basket-weave leather seat backs, orange Bakelite control knobs and jewel-like Jaeger dashboard instruments.
In 2010, this vehicle was offered for sale at the Pebble Beach Auction presented by Gooding & Company. The car was estimated to sell for $450,000 - $550,000. It would leave the auction unsold.By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2010
The Lancia Astura was produced from 1931 through 1936 with 2,484 examples produced. The Astura was one of the first platforms for which Pinin Farina performed his craft. The Astura was produced in three series and powered by an Overhead Cam V8 engine that displaced 2604cc's and later increased to 2972cc. The Astura was introduced at the 1931 Paris Motor Show alongside the four-cylinder Artena.
The Fist Series was produced between 1931 and 1932 with a total of 496 examples produced. The Second Series was built in 1932 and 1933 with 750 examples made. The Fourth Series was from 1937 through 1939 with 423 units built. The Fourth Series was only offered on a long wheelbase.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008