1961 Lancia Appia Berlina
Highly original RHD example; lots of history; in regular use; radials; recent radiator recore; a very sophisticated machine - beautifully made
The Lancia Appia was introduced in 1953 as a replacement for the ageing Ardea which dated from before the war.
The new Appia had a larger 1,090cc version of Lancia’s characteristic V4 engine but in a clean-sheet design by Vittorio Jano which borrowed elements from the sensational Aurelia. The new engine was coupled to a four-speed gearbox with rear-wheel drive. The independent sliding pillar front suspension and pillarless doors were a long-standing Lancia tradition which also carried over to the Appia.
The car was beautifully made, as were all Lancias at the time ('the thinking man's Alfa Romeo') but quality costs and a high price tag compared to a rival Fiat or Alfa's new Giulietta meant initial sales were slow. Good reviews and a succession of detailed improvements made the Appia increasingly appealing and sales soon improved. In third series form (1959-63), over 55,000 Appias were sold from a total production run of 98,000.
Performance was good for the time and the 40bhp engine could propel the car along at nearly 80mph, with 30mpg economy, at a time when the Ford equivalent struggled to exceed 60mph. Although the Lancia was not sold in this country, it cost the equivalent of £780 while the Ford cost just over £400.
This is a late model Appia, a Series 3 from 1961 with the wide, horizontal grille inspired by the flagship Flaminia. Engine power also went up to 48bhp and the front brakes were improved with dual circuit hydraulics for added safety. It is a very stylish, understated car and looks most elegant in a period shade of pale green with a matching green and cream interior.
Access to the interior is matched by few other cars thanks to the pillarless construction – opening front and rear doors at the same time always impresses onlookers. You will also note that it is right-hand drive, always an option on Lancias of this era, even in Italy.
It was imported from Jersey in 1981 where it had lived for most of its life and has lots of bills dating back before then. It was resprayed by H F Cars in 1978 who also rebuilt the engine with a rebore and new pistons.
By 2003 it was showing 49,168 miles it was given a thorough going over, particularly to the braking department by Graham Millard and it went through Martin Buckleys hands in 2015. Local Lancia expert Tanc Barratt supplied some parts, a boot seal and points and the car has recently had a new radiator core.
In the current ownership for the last couple of years, it has been regularly used and has proven a ready starter.
The file includes an interesting 16 page rticle by the Automobile Engineer on the Appia engine, a string of old MOTs which would suggest the 58,000 miles indicated is correct and a period road test.
The underside is remarkably solid and the fabulous doors shut beautifully - incredible engineering on display. The paintwork is faded and jaded but very appealing, as is the interior which is both original and in remarkably good order for 62 years of age.
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