1921 Lancia Dikappa
Sporting OHV Lancia; known history; five-litres; a thunderous and impressive vehicle; enormous potential
One of the worlds most iconic brands, Lancia has the potential to stir the emotions of any informed petrol-head. When enthusiasts think early Lancias, it is usually the incredible Lambda that springs to mind, bristling with innovations that are still current to this day.
Lancia's history pre-dates that of course, Vincenzo Lancia producing some fabulous cars pre and post WW1 which sold to the wealthiest and most discerning of motorists.
At the dawn of the motorcar, Lancia distinguished himself as a racing driver for the works FIAT team - becoming one of their star drivers and gaining an international reputation. Although retained by FIAT for the 1907 and 1908 seasons, he had already started a car manufacturing business under his own name, his first car reaching completion by the autumn of 1907. It was a thoroughly conventional, yet beautifully made car, built along the lines of the equivalent FIAT - one wonders what they thought about that?
Lancias ranged from the 12HP Alfa (no relation), through the 15HP Beta, 20HP Gamma, 35HP Theta, and 35HP Kappa and Dikappa (but no Omicron thankfully) - the latter referring to the sporting OHV variant of which just 160 were made.
At the very top of the tree sat the Trikappa, a V8 of massive proportions.
The 4,940cc four-cylinder Dikappa offered here would have likely carried sporting four-seater coachwork. Photos of such cars exist and they are very elegant indeed. The Autocar road tested one in July 1921, a 90bhp car praised for its rapid acceleration, lightness of steering and general sophistication. They managed an easy 70mph maximum and excellent hill climbing.
For a long time, it was believed that this Dikappa was the sole survivor, although it seems that another has surfaced in Argentina and is now under restoration in Italy.
Chassis 84 (of 160) was imported as a new car to the Manifold family, wealthy land owners in Western Victoria, Australia. It was supposed to have led a lively life in the early 1920s, competing in early road races. It changed hands in the 1950s by then completely run down and restored over many years, the vestigial sporting body taking shape. Once complete, it covered some 3,500 miles on local Australian rallies and events.
It was located in Australia and imported into the UK by well-know ERA racer Bill Morris on behalf of Irish Lancia exponent John Nicholson. It arrived in here 1989 and was duly registered and put on the road. In John's ownership, new white metal bearings and new piston rings were fitted in 1992, the car having had limited use since.
He sold it through Sotheby's in 1994, our vendor acquiring the car and using it actively for a couple of years before putting it to bed in his dry warm shed.
It will therefore require some recommissioning before use once more, and notes on file state that the oil pump needs priming after periods in storage so it will need some thought before firing up. It was running well when it was parked up and is as responsive and light to drive as one would expect of a Lancia according to the vendor.
There is a copy handbook and part-spares manual on file.
Although nicely made, the bodywork on this car does not make the most of the Dikappa's significance. Lambdas will be all over the press this autumn, celebrating their 100th birthday yet this spectacular car has already passed this benchmark.
Its 'Pebble Beach' potential for 12/50 money....
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