Motoring Trailblazers - Lancia Aurelia

Sun 18th Aug 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Lancia Aurelia
The use of V6 engine technology is perhaps taken for granted in the modern era of punchy sports cars, but it wasn’t until the 1950s and the Lancia Aurelia that it was an engineering concept put into general production.

Designed under the direction of Italian engineer Vittorio Jano, the V6 element was the brainchild of his assistant Francesco de Virgilio. The Aurelia was a trailblazer too for its use of radial tyres as standard, which were produced by Michelin.

Production of the first Aurelia was a B10 sedan, closely followed by a B21 and a B20 GT coupe in the same year 1951. The coupe had a shorter wheelbase and a Ghia designed, Pinin Farina body. The second series B22 arrived in 1952 and came with the addition of chrome bumpers and better brakes. 

One of Lancia’s biggest successes with the Aurelia came in the Fourth Series, when they developed the B24 Spider, a car which starred in the cult Italian movie Il Sorpasso (The Easy Life) and was deemed so valuable that though it was was involved in a huge crash at the end of the movie, the actual car used in the crash was a stunt double, an Alfa Romeo. Other cultural references to the Aurelia can be found in The Adventures of Tintin in particular The Calculus Affair where a car chase scene features the famous car being driven by the protagonist who claims that Italian cars are the best in the world.

There can be no arguments that Italians do it better when it comes to high-powered GTs and the Lancia company, with their previous work on the Aprilia were the obvious choice to break new ground.

In its eight year run through the 1950s the Berlina, Coupe, Spider and Chassis versions sold more than 18,000 units making it a winning car on the road as well as on the motorsports tracks of the world.