Thornley Kelham restoration sees 1953 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT transformed from rusted through to rally ready
A 1953 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series 3 has been given a new lease of life by leading restoration specialists Thornley Kelham. The previously decaying classic has been taken from an almost unsalvageable restoration condition to factory fresh over a two-and-a-half-year period and has now been accepted into arguably the most prestigious classic car rally of all – the Mille Miglia.
Having restored a considerable number of Aurelias in the past, Thornley Kelham’s expertise in, and understanding of these models and their intricacies enabled their team to resurrect a vehicle that many others would have deemed beyond restoration.
The 1953 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series 3 was discovered in incredibly poor condition in the USA, with a staggering amount of rust plaguing the car. The usual rust points of these vehicles – namely floor pans, sills and door bottoms – had been totally ravaged by years left exposed to the elements. So severe was the problem that even the top of the wings had rusted through, the transmission tunnel had completely eroded, and the body required strengthening prior to being media blasted as the car had so little structural integrity.
Despite the condition of the vehicle, Thornley Kelham’s customer was determined to see the Aurelia resurrected and play his part in saving this rare car. The tired body was fully restored, in many cases by fabricating entirely new panels. A considerable portion of the lower body had to be fabricated whilst maintaining factory curvatures and shut lines, amongst myriad other repairs before moving onto Thornley Kelham’s paintshop to be prepared and painted in the original beige colour, as per the factory build sheet.
Given the owner’s aspirations to compete in the Mille Miglia, and the awful condition of the original seat frames, Thornley Kelham fabricated a set of its Rally De Corsa style seats and also carried out a common period competition upgrades of a Nardi floor shift, Nardi bonnet scoop and Nardi twin carburettors and Borrani “bi-metallic” wheels. Every component of the car was restored or replaced over a period of two and a half years, with the end result being a box fresh and period correct Aurelia – a far cry from the condition it entered the TK facility in.
Once completed, the owner’s maiden journey in the resurrected Aurelia was a 500-mile weekend of fault-free driving, testament to the thorough road testing and quality checks carried out prior to delivery. The next adventure for the car will be Mille Miglia. Thornley Kelham will provide a dedicated support team throughout the event with two mechanics allocated to the car at all times, allowing the owner to fully focus on the joy of driving and ensuring the car remains in superb order throughout the gruelling event.