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Lot 529: Lancia Lambda Tourer

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. The engine, an overhead-camshaft unit of 2,120cc, was progressively enlarged, arriving at its final 2,570cc, 68bhp configuration in 1928. Production of the Lambda lasted from 1923 to 1931 in nine series; this car is one of the sought-after later cars, a 9th Series example benefiting from the larger 2,570cc engine. The last Lambdas are perhaps more associated with the alternative space frame chassis which was offered and which could accommodate coachbuilt bodies, but the standard Lancia monocoque as evidenced here was still available. Charles H. Brown is understood to have purchased this Lambda in Bombay more than 50 years ago. The gentleman from whom it was acquired was a former Fire officer and it is said that he had been the original owner of the car from new. Over the course of its life in India, the car had undergone some refurbishment, including replacement of the floor and running boards in locally sourced wood. Mr. Brown had always hoped to return the car to its original form, for the engine to be rebuilt and the car returned to working order once again. This sadly this was never undertaken and the car stands today as a restoration project, for another enthusiast to enjoy. When back on the road, it will no doubt provide the modern and usable motoring for which these automobiles are renowned.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number529
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€40000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€46000
Condition rating5
Registration number
Chassis number21486
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors