Lancia Aprilia Series 2 Spider Type 239 bu Touring

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Aprilia Series 2 Spider Type 239 bu Touring





The Lancia Aprilia Berline was introduced in 1937 and was the last Lancia to have Vincenzo Lancia's input before his death. The engine was a narrow-angled V4 1300cc unit (one cylinder head) and sliding pillar front suspension was carried on from previous models. The rear suspension was by trailing arm with a transverse leaf spring mounted onto the rear differential. Brakes were hydraulic front and rear drums with the rears being inboard. The original Berline bodyshell was a monocoque construction with a pillarless, front and rear door opening. All very advanced and all of which made the car a revelation in its day.

Lancia Aprilia (1937–1949) is a large family car manufactured by Lancia, one of the first designed using wind tunnel in collaboration with Battista Farina and Politecnico di Torino, achieving a record low drag coefficient of 0.47. The berlinetta aerodinamica was first shown in 1936.

Production commenced in February 1937, the month in which the firm's founder died: this was the last of Vincenzo Lancia's designs, featuring four pillar less doors. The first series (mod. 238, 10,354 units, 1937–39) featured a 1,352 cc V4 motor providing 47hp (35 kW). The second series (mod. 438, 439, 9,728 units, 1939–49) had its engine capacity increased to 1,486 cc which provided 48hp (36 kW). A Lusso model of this second series was also offered as well as a lungo (lengthened) version (706 made, 1946–49). A total of 20,082 cars and 7,554 additional chassis for coach built bodies were produced in Turin along with about 700 in France.

With the Aprilia Lancia followed their tradition of offering cars with the steering wheel on the right even in markets seen by other manufacturers as left hand drive markets. Outside the UK and Sweden customers increasingly picked the optional left hand drive versions, however.

Special designs include those by Ugo Zagato (1938), a Carrozzeria Touring convertible, the army's Torpedo militare (World War II), a Luigi Pagani-tuned barchetta bodied by boatbuilders Riva di Merate on a pre-war chassis (1946), a Bertone convertible (1947), one of Michelotti's first, while at Vignale (1949).

Pinin Farina was initially helped in the early days with financial backing from Vincenzo Lancia so it's no surprise that there has always been a strong connection between the two companies. Their engagement with the Aprilia began from the model’s introduction and before the war, they built bespoke Aprilias for road and competition use, as well as two-door cabriolets and four-light and six-light Berlinas, which were offered in the factory catalogue. Remarkably, although late-war production was greatly reduced by Allied bombing, Aprilia production continued throughout the conflict.

In the pre-war and immediate post-war years, most coachbuilders designed cars with long bonnets, due to the length of the engine, however, with the compact Lancia 1482cc V4, Pinin Farina was able to build the new car with a shorter nose, enabling a more centrally positioned passenger compartment and slender, elegant rear styling. It was clothed in cabriolet coachwork and fitted with two seats plus rear jump seats. The driver and passenger face a dashboard colour-matched to the body and filled with unique Pinin Farina gauges and styling touches.

After the end of the Second World War, car manufacturers were changing over from wartime obligations to the production of, much-needed, motor cars. Plans that had been shelved for years were dusted off and 'show cars' were produced for the 33rd Salon de l'Automobile de Paris in October 1946. Most of the cars brought to the show were utilitarian pre-war designs, however, after an eight-year hiatus, the auto show nevertheless generated significant excitement. Twice as many people attended (809,000) as had in 1938. Lines of people stretched from the main gate all the way to the Seine. Two things were missing, however, as car makers from Germany and Italy were banned from the show that year (so was Japan, but that wasn’t considered to be significant).

Gian Battista “Pinin” Farina was not a man to be dictated to and he had two cars that he fully intended to bring to the show – ban or not! With his 20-year old son Sergio, and accompanied by a couple of family friends, the group set off from Turin for the drive to Paris. Gian Battista drove the Lancia Aprilia Cabriolet and Sergio took the wheel of an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale. They stopped at a local garage, cleaned up the cars and set off to display the new creations. Since he knew that the cars would be denied entrance to the Grand Palais, Gian Battista (and Sergio) slowly drove to the exhibit and parked the cars on Avenue Winston-Churchill, right in front of the Palais. The manager of the show was furious, but the crowd that gathered was thick and the press photographers were enthusiastic. The renowned magazine “l'Illustration” produced a special Motor Show edition and paid tribute to the talent of Pinin Farina by placing the Lancia and the Alfa Romeo on the cover. Such was the excitement created by the stunning 'Speciale Automobili' that the frustrated show officials threw up their hands and allowed the two automobiles to remain parked outside the exhibition, becoming the unofficial stars.

Lancia had opened their first plant outside Italy at Bonneuil on the south side of Paris in 1931, and the Aprilia was assembled here between 1937 and 1939. The French version was badged as the Lancia Ardennes, but apart from the name and slightly larger headlights (possibly to compensate for the dimming effects of French legislation requiring headlight bulbs to be yellow) the French Lancia Ardennes was indistinguishable from the Turin built Lancia Aprilia. Curiously, the models assembled in France made it to the market ahead of the Italian cars, being sold from Autumn 1936, whereas the Italian cars were not sold till early 1937, after the worst of the winter was over. Despite being well regarded by enthusiasts, the Lancia Ardennes was overshadowed in the French market place by the pioneering and aggressively priced Citroën Traction. In the context of heightened nationalism and increasing political tension between the political classes in Italy and in France, only 1,620 Lancia Ardennes models had been produced before war put an end to its production.

For the Mille Miglia 1938, Carrozzeria Touring does not just produce a magnificent BMW 328, the vehicles that first took their class and then overall victory, it also provides the bodywork for the little Lancia Aprilia, which ends up being just as successful. The open car for Luigi Bellucci is based on an Aprilia chassis Type 239 and carries one of those light, aerodynamic shells for which Touring becomes so famous. It is not certain whether the bodywork for other of these Aprilias were also produced by Touring. Certainly none of them turned up at a race.

Sold for: 350200 EUR
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