Lancia Astura Series 2 Tipo 30 Drophead coupe by Pininfarina

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Astura Series 2 Tipo 30 Drophead coupe by Pininfarina





The Lancia Astura is a passenger car produced by Italian automobile manufacturer Lancia between 1931 and 1939 a switch from a system of model designation that used letters of the Greek alphabet in favour of one using Italian place names, a move in keeping with the nationalistic spirit of the age. Lancia replaced the Lambda model with two models: the four-cylinder Artena and the larger, V8-powered Astura. Both of these models were introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 1931. The Astura chassis was used by various coachbuilders to create coupes, convertibles and sedans.

The Astura evolved over four series:

First series, built between 1931 and 1932 with 496 units made.

Second series, built between 1932 and 1933 with 750 units made. The engine mountings were modified for this generation to reduce noise and vibration.

Examples of the first two were powered by the company’s proven 2606cc SOHC mono bloc ‘narrow-vee’ V8 unit of 72bhp. Ignition was by coil, the coolant was circulated by pump and the engine fed by a downdraft Zenith carburettor. The unit drove through a four-speed manual gearbox that featured the then popular feature of a ‘silent’ third gear. The model’s ultimate speed was widely quoted as c.75mph.

Third series, built between 1933 and 1937 with 1,243 units made. The third-generation Astura was offered in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase variants, and was powered by a new, larger engine from 2.6 to 3.0 litres.

Fourth series, built between 1937 and 1939 with 423 units made. Only offered in long-wheelbase. One of Lancia's most important models, the Astura was powered by a new version of the familiar narrow-angle V8 engine. The latter was enlarged from 2.6 to 3.0 litres on the Astura Series III in 1934 when the model also gained hydraulic brakes and became available in both short and long-chassis forms. The Series IV featured a platform chassis of longer wheelbase, attracting some of the finest coachwork of the period, and was used extensively as official transportation by Italian government departments. In addition to the longer wheelbase, an electric hood mechanism was developed and Bijur centralized chassis lubrication adopted.

First- and second-generation Asturas are powered by a 72hp 2.6-liter 19° V8 engine, while third- and fourth-generation models are powered by a 3.0-liter 17° V8 capable of 82 hp.

Although Lancia had pioneered monocoque construction in their 1922 Lambda, the Astura was destined for carrozzerie and was given a cross-braced box-section platform to allow wider design latitude. The model was initially offered in a single 125-inch wheelbase as the Tipo 230, 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. Notwithstanding its more conventional construction, like its predecessors the chassis had excellent torsional stiffness, which contributed to its feeling of solidity and refinement. The front suspension retained Lancia’s sliding-pillar independent suspension, while the live rear axle was controlled by friction dampers that could be adjusted to suit with 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.

Asturas had a box-section chassis frame with Lancia’s patented sliding pillar suspension at the front and a live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and Siata-type shock absorbers at the rear. An interesting feature was the rubber roller race which supported the steering column where it passed through the dashboard; in addition, all cars had servo brakes, 12 volt electrical systems, and centralized chassis lubrication. Changes to the fourth series cars included a platform frame (replacing the previous box-section chassis) and the fitment of hydraulic brakes. Out of the total production of 2,946 Asturas.

Coachbuilders were drawn to the scale and sporting character of the Astura, resulting in some of the most beautiful coachwork of the 1930s. Firms including Touring, Castagna, Viotti, and, most famously, Pinin Farina produced designs for fitment to the Lancia chassis. Coachwork became even more adventurous, and to some extent more influenced by American design trends, after the traditional upright radiator was replaced by a more modern sloping design in the mid-thirties. As it was such a large and imposing car, with few domestic competitors, the Astura was naturally very popular with the Italian government for use as official transport. Numerous examples were bought by the state, and comparatively few cars were ever exported outside Italy. Although Astura production ended in 1939, the smaller-capacity Astura engine continued to be used beyond this time to power military vehicles. Despite being marketed as a sporting car, the Astura did not participate in many competitions during the 1930s, with the exception of some long-distance road races where the legendary Lancia road holding was able to shine.

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