I've always been very much aware of Lancia's premier role in the evolution of the automobile. From the first monocoque to the first V6 engine, the company's legacy is second to none.
Yet I've only become a true Lancia fan the moment I've met her...
She's a 1958 Appia "Series II," original and unrestored, as Jay Leno would put it. And I've fallen for it. Hard.
While the "Series II" is arguably the finest of the breed, the story of the Appia (whose name comes from a Roman road, as with the Aurelia) started a few years earlier, in 1953. Launched in April at the Turin Motor Show, the Appia looked like a mini-me Aurelia, which was no bad thing. Restrained and elegant, the Appia retailed for a stiff price premium over the Fiat 1100. The level of engineering refinement between the two was worlds apart, and customer demand for the new model proved strong, albeit not nearly enough to save its parent company's finances.
This little Lancia has been designed and built with love by people who truly cared.
The heavily indebted company was taken over by the industrialist Carlo Pesenti between 1955 and 1956. The Ardea "Series II" was Lancia's first model launched under the new company ownership, and it proved a success, bringing the Marque's sales to 10.266 units in 1957 (up from 6456 in 1955).
The Appia "Series II" had a more powerful engine and an uprated transmission, but the more important news was its completely redesigned body. In my view, this is the best looking of the Appia saloons. The third volume and larger windows give it more presence without losing any of the previous model's elegance.
This car is a genuinely delightful object to look and operate. The sheer quality of everything you see and touch is astounding, but it's the engineering level that really blows your mind. This car's doors open and close like a vault despite its pillarless design, 62 years after it left the factory. Inside, there are no squeaks and no rattles. This little Lancia has been designed and built with love by people who truly cared.
each version is a great getaway drug into the fantastic world of classic Lancia ownership.
Built between 1959 and 1963, the third series of the Appia sold more than the previous two combined, which is quite remarkable given the Appia's age by then. Looking to create a sort of family-feeling with the larger Flaminia, the beautiful Lancia "shield" left its place to a rather generic grille and a lowered bonnet profile on the refreshed Appia. The whole car now sat lower, because of the adoption of 14" wheels in place of the previous 15". These modifications were well received at the time, but nowadays, collectors tend to prefer the earlier cars, rarer and somewhat purer in design.
I think each version is a great getaway drug into the fantastic world of classic Lancia ownership. These marvelous cars, built like Swiss watches, deserve far more recognition than they get.