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Lot 511: Lancia Dilambda Roadster

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

One of the most gifted automobile engineers of all time, Vincenzo Lancia founded his own company in 1906, having previously been in FIAT's employ as chief test driver. Introduced in 1907, the first Lancia car showed an independence of thought and defiance of convention that would remain associated with the marque well into the modern era. Military vehicles, lorries, vans and aero engines followed, the latter enabling Lancia to accrue valuable expertise in the design and construction of 'V'-configuration power plants. Apart from a solitary six-cylinder model, the relatively unsuccessful Dialfa of 1908/1909, all early Lancias had four-cylinder engines and were only supplied in chassis form, there being no in-house coachworks at this time. Lancia's very first offering, the 18/24hp Alfa, embodied the principles that its maker had come to consider essential: low weight, a high-revving engine, shaft drive, a pressed steel front axle and worm-and-screw steering. New models were introduced on almost a yearly basis  all named after letters of the Greek alphabet  and production increased sufficiently for Lancia to move to larger premises in via Monginevro, Turin in 1911. Lancia's first V-engined model - the V8 Trikappa sports car - appeared in 1922 but it was the Lambda, launched soon after, that would prove to be of even greater significance. A milestone in automotive history, the revolutionary Lambda was the world's first car to have a stress-bearing 'monocoque' body and the first to be powered by a V4 engine. The absence of a separate chassis meant that the engine, drive train and driver could by positioned lower, enabling a more aerodynamic body line to be achieved, while Lancia's patented sliding-pillar independent front suspension gave the Lambda ride and handling qualities unmatched by anything in its class. It would remain a feature of Lancia cars well into the 1950s. Unlike its revolutionary Lambda V4 predecessor, the V8-engined Dilambda of 1929 did not use a stress-bearing body but reverted to a separate chassis. A new design, the latter possessed exceptional torsional rigidity, a virtue necessitated by its independent front suspension. The reversion to a separate chassis frame may have seemed like a retrograde step, but the Dilambda was Lancia's top-of-the-range model and thus intended for the kind of client who would to commission a bespoke body from an independent coachbuilder. By this time, narrow-angle V-configuration engines had become a Lancia speciality, the Dilambda's 3,960cc overhead-valve unit having cylinder banks disposed at only 24 degrees. With 100bhp on tap, the Dilambda in its short-chassis form was capable of 85mph, an exceptional performance at the time. Updated in 1932, the Dilambda remained in production until 1935, by which time only some 1,700 of these luxurious cars had been built. Right-hand drive, like all Lancias into the 1950s, the stylish Dilambda roadster offered here carries replica coachwork in the style of Carrozzeria Touring, though it is not known when or by whom the body was constructed. Previously in the long-term ownership of a German private collector, the car is currently not running, having been on static display for many years with the engine removed. The body is described as in generally good condition. The engine  a Tipo 81 unit, number '1485'  will have been placed back in the car prior to the auction.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number511
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€60000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€69000
Condition rating0
Registration number
Chassis number
Engine number1485
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors