Lancia Aurelia

Total Production: 6
Following the American infatuation with the jet plane during the early 1950s, Italy's leading automotive designers and coachbuilders wasted no time in unveiling beautiful bodies that would appeal to the lucrative American market. Inspired by American automotive influence at the time, renowned designer Battista 'Pinin' Farina created the eye-catching Lancia Aurelia PF200 Coupe that debuted at the 1952 Turin Motor Show. The open sportscar PF200 was targeted at the U.S. market and featured American design cues like curvy jet fighter features, a long hood with a separate large circular mask, and nickel element rear wings. Anything but understated, the PF200's circular grille-surround appeared to have come right from a contemporary fighter jet. Finished in chrome and sporting a large rear bumper, the rear wings featured long fins that extended past the tail of the car.

The PF200 was considered the most creative series of special Aurelia designs by Pininfarina. Following the sportscar was a coupe version with a cockpit-like cabin. Customers craved more practical versions of this design so Pininfarina introduced a small series that included a 2-door coupe, a 2-door convertible, and a 4-door sedan. With a more traditional front-end treatment, these PF200 models were a much more humble version.

Lancia's Aurelia B52 chassis was used and became part of the select few bodies that were available to customer coachbuilders without a body. The PF200 was based on the production Aurelia B20 but was given a bit of a longer wheelbase, so designers had more creative leeway. Power came from the same 2-liter V6 engine that was developed under the supervision of Vittorio Jano. Producing between 75 and 90 bhp the engine was fitted with hemispherical heads and a single Solex carburetor.

After debuting in the fall of 1952, Pininfarina went ahead with plans to create several more PH200 show cars in a limited production run. The Aurelia platform was used to create another two Cabriolets, and three Coupes, all with their own distinct features. A client in the U.S. requested one PF200 design fitted to a Cadillac chassis.

As the jet craze slowly faded, the final PF200 was produced in 1955, and Pininfarina moved on with the Aurelia B24 Spyder, which became an instant hit. An estimated six PF200 Aurelia's have been thought to have been produced, with at least four existing today. Changes in the second model from the first included very subtle design tweaks that included the prominent grille becoming more oval-shaped rather than a perfect circle.

By Jessica Donaldson

Lancia Aurelia
Lancia Aurelia
Lancia Aurelia
Lancia Aurelia
Lancia Aurelia Series IV B20
Lancia Aurelia
Lancia Aurelia
Lancia Aurelia

Total Production: 13,488
Only 330 examples of the striking B24 were ever produced. This very special automobile, produced for a scant 3 years, offered a host of bristling features in typical Lancia fashion. From the lovely Pininfarina lines down to the remarkably modern mechanicals, the Aurelia B24 Spider was a guaranteed classic.

The Aurelia series was comprised of a full lineup of first-rate cars, with the B20 GT coupe and B24 Spider stationed at its top. The B20 GT was an influential car in its own right. Automotive author Quentin Wilson recognizes that the car is 'often credited as the first of the new breed of modern postwar GT's.' The model that history has looked upon with the most favor, though, has been the B24 Spider.

The B24 offered all the mechanical prowess of other Aurelias, and combined it with the best styling of the series. One of Pininfarina's masterpieces, the B24 is today one of the most highly regarded Lancias. It was a true roadster with a very basic top and simple side curtains as the only degrees of separation between the driver and the outside world. Yet its ample luggage space and pleasant interior begged for an alfresco getaway into the rich scenery of its Italian homeland.

Featuring monocoque construction, already a Lancia hallmark for decades, the B24 was built by Pininfarina. That famed carrozzerie of Italy also, of course, penned the elegant lines.

With its tight, lean curves, the Lancia escaped the bulbous trends of the 1950's. At the car's front, the wheels rested beneath sleek pontoon fenders with subtle flares. Those fenders swept back to form a seamless downward curve that ran nearly to the rear edge of the doors before quickly ramping back up to a peak just beyond the cockpit. The rear fenders, bulging slightly from the rest of the car, formed tight muscles in a predatory haunch. The B24's graceful, athletic stance belied its superb poise.

There was terrific attention to detail in the Lancia's design. The way the split front bumpers led to the proud grille. The way the unfettered rear could have been grown from the soil. The way the delicate curved windshield rested lightly atop the body, an airy marvel of metal and glass placed as if only to frame for driver and passenger the gorgeous view out over the long hood. The Aurelia was fine sculpture at its fastest.

All that elegance translated perfectly into the interior. Free of fussy details, its painted metal dash housed a simple array of instruments and a thin wood-rim steering wheel. The seats took up the width of the interior and, with tops flush with the car's body, blended seamlessly with the B24's outside.

The Aurelia's mechanical sophistication was every bit as impressive as the design. At the heart of the B24 was a 2451cc V6 cast entirely of aluminum alloy. The Aurelia series brought to market the first ever mass-produced V6, and it was a gem. With its 60-degree V and light construction, the engine would not be out of place in a new car. The phenomenal sound may be unheard of today, but the basic design surely is not.

Vittorio Jano was the man responsible for the development of the Lancia V6, which began life as a 1754cc unit. Jano, an invaluable engineer with Alfa Romeo during the company's all-conquering racing career of the 1920's and 1930's, knew more about building fine engines than perhaps anyone else at the time. His metallic marvel produced 118hp in the B24.

The engine was not the only impressive collection of moving parts on the Lancia. The car's other famous feature was its transaxle. Incorporating the transmission, differential, and even brakes all into one compact unit had several benefits on the car. Most notably, it perfected weight distribution and reduced unsprung weight at the rear axle. The result was a great-handling automobile with ballet dancer balance and razor-sharp reflexes.

Suspending the Lancia was a relatively simple system with a sliding pillar up front. The rear of the car used leaf springs, but a De Dion rear axle ensured the excellent road manners already made possible by the car's light engine and use of a transaxle.

Market values of the Aurelia B24 Spider have reached stratospheric heights, and the cars routinely sell for well over $200,000. These vehicles have become established classics with unrivaled Italian pedigree and prestige. They have rightly become known as one of the best Lancias ever made.

Sources Used:

Wilson, Quentin. The Ultimate Classic Car Book. First. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 1995.

By Evan Acuña

Model Production *

* Please note, dates are approximate

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