A Lancia England demonstrator; featured in period Autocar road tests and one of only 25 UK-market right-hand drive examples has come up for sale on the market with RM Sothebys.
Introduced in B10 berlina form in 1950, Lancia’s Aurelia is a landmark postwar automobile. It was the first production car with a V-6 engine, and the first provided with radial tires. It combined Lancia’s torsionally stiff unit-body construction and traditional sliding-pillar front suspension with a rear transaxle and a multi-link rear suspension. 1951 saw the introduction of a coupé version: The B20 GT, with a 1,991-cubic-centimeter engine on a shortened 2,660-milimeter wheelbase. The model was constantly developed and improved over time; In 1953, the 3rd Series saw the engine increased to 2,451 cubic centimeters, and with the 4th Series the rear axle was changed to a DeDion unit for more predictable roadholding at the limit.
The present car is a 6th Series example, whose specification included improved sound deadening for additional road comfort, as well as added features such as opening front quarter windows. Chassis B20-3857 was also fitted with a desirable Nardi floor shift.
One of only 25 B20s imported by the UK distributor, Lancia England Ltd., chassis 3857 was first registered as “5 LME” on 2 July 1957, and it is accompanied by its original buff logbook. Chassis 3857 was retained by Lancia England as a demonstrator and press car, and a road test of the car (a copy of which is on file) was featured in the 8 November 1957 issue of Autocar, who said of the B20, “In appearance it is classically stylish without need of ornament, and the general standard of finish, of both bodywork and mechanical components, is almost beyond criticism; without doubt it is one of the most desirable sporting cars of the decade.”
In 1992, chassis 3857 was sold to an Italian owner who had the car fully restored in Italy, as photographically documented in the car’s comprehensive history file. In 2008, 3857 returned to the UK, at which time it regained its original 5 LME registration and was recommissioned by marque specialist Omicron Engineering. It was subsequently entered in the 2010 Mille Miglia Storica, a testament to its usability on the road. More recently, in 2019 the car was comprehensively serviced by Thornley Kelham, a leading Aurelia specialist.