Today we reached a long-awaited milestone in the progress of the 1957 Lancia Aurelia B20S, Ser. VI restoration project. Having completed basic electric wiring, not without excessive delays, the engine was ready to be started after its complete overhaul. The Master of Ceremonies was none other than our chief mechanic, Makis Efthymiou. Without further ado, here is the short video clip of the start-up procedure. The loud engine noise is due to the exhaust piping system not being as yet connected. Another positive observation is that there is practically no engine vibration. To boot she is an easy starter! A very good indicator to proper assembly of the engine.
Next phase: pre-painting the car and then onwards to the upholsterer. The end of the project is near!
Feb 12 2015 update: At the Upholsterer: I was watching a restoration project from Jay Leno’s Garage, where Jay says “From now on we use Dynamat insulation material in all our projects”. It was enough for me to start Googling. Luckilly a dealer in Greece was located, contacted and the correct material Dynaliner was selected for our project! See more in the Gallery. For more: www.dynamat.com
Some photos from the status of the car as of today; clicking on any picture the viewer opens in larger format:
Since my last post on the Lancia Aurelia GT back in early March of 2014, a lot has happened relating to the restoration of this magnificent Italian classic Grand Turismo car of the mid fifties. On Tuesday 9/9/14 a certain milestone was achieved; the reconditioned Lancia V-6 engine (the first production V-6 engine adopted by a car manufacturer) was installed in the engine bay!
But let’s rewind to where we had left off back in March. We had set up the following ‘works to be done’ outline pertaining to our restoration procedure:
Engineering and Mechanicals (mainly completing the body works and sourcing spare parts)
Engine overhaul & reassembly
Transmission overhaul & reassembly
Suspension, steering and brakes overhaul
Electrics (including a new wiring loom)
Paintwork and Exterior
Interior, upholstery, headliner
Final detailing, testing and running-in.
Where are we today? I’d say having completed points 1 to 4, we should be about 60% done. Let’s be a bit more specific.
A/ Engineering and Mechanicals (mainly completing the body works and sourcing spare parts).
After considering few options as to which body shop to use, obtaining couple of quotations, we opted to employ the services of Dimitris Chronopoulos (a.k.a. Naftis), who had successfully worked on couple of past projects for my partner Thanassi. Hence the B20S was truck loaded from my garage to his shop one fine day in mid-March. Naftis and his son Costas attacked the project with gusto and soon enough many imperfections were rectified. The engine bay and undercarriage as well as the trunk (boot) area, wheel arches, doors and door posts, trunk lid etc. were treated, straightened and primed. Few photos tell the story best.
So here are some shots from the works already done. [By clicking on the photos they open in a larger size format.] 😉
In the mean time, a long quest to search and source an extensive list of spare parts needed for the project commenced, burning long computer hours, drafting and sending countless e-mails, sorting through replies, evaluating the answers, comparing prices, negotiating and finally placing purchase orders.
At this point it is worth to mention that our two main suppliers for spare parts are Omicron Engineering in the UK, and M.A.R.A. in Italy. With both proprietors of these fine establishments we became friendly, namely Andrew & Elizabeth Cliffe and Fabio Poledro. As a nice surprise Andrew mentions in one of his messages pertaining to the previous custodian of B20S-1548, Mr. Peter Hudson: “Dear Byron, It appears the car belonged for a long time to Peter Hudson. My parents know him quite well as they used to live nearby many years ago. He has a Fulvia at the moment. The address on the old registration document is still valid, so I suggest writing to him. I don’t have an email address, but his telephone number is +44 1132 xxxxxxxx. I would recommend writing to him or calling him, and maybe he can advise if he uses email. I’m sure he will be pleased to fill in what history of the car he can remember. Elizabeth has your wish list and is going through it now. Kind Regards, Andrew”. As the saying goes, It is after all quite a small world! 🙂
Needless to say, thereafter I have established direct contact with Peter who has helped us by filling-in some provenance details of the car and even finding and sending to me the original ignition keys of the Aurelia!
Another issue to resolve was learning about and then sourcing the original color of the car, known as Azzuro Celeste, or sky blue. Scouting the various Fora of the Lancisti communities in Europe, the USA and Australia, I finally discovered that the original paint manufacturer for Lancia Automobiles S.p.A. was a company by the name of Lechler; to boot this company still exists and has a dealer in Athens! Hence Thanassi rushed to this shop and obtained a liter of the #1173 code item. Armed with this hard sought after item, a first paint trial was performed by Naftis. The result was quite pleasant.
B/ Engine, transmission, suspension, steering and brakes overhaul & reassembly
All these tasks were entrusted to Makis Efthymiou, a competent mechanic with many years involvement in competition preparation of formula, rally and other race cars. To boot he had recently successfully completed the overhaul of a very similar V-6 engine from a Lancia Flaminia. One word that characterizes Makis’ skills is ‘inventiveness’. No matter what the challenge faced, he would come up with a proper solution. His network of contacts and allegiances within the Greek ‘mechanicsdom’ has proved equally valuable. He attacked the project by first evaluating the disassembled engine and existing parts trove in my garage, as loaded on my Dodge Dakota pick-up truck in early in March. We both agreed at that time that the challenge of jumping into a project that has been disassembled by someone else and even without knowing if all the parts are there, is awesome; like a big jigsaw puzzle…
Next step was to remove the front and rear axles plus transmission from the car while it was worked on in the premises of the Naftis body-shop. His inventiveness came to test regarding the unique design of the front sliding pillar suspension system that used by Lancia on its Lambda model from around 1922. Lancia continued with sliding pillar suspensions until the 1950s Appia model. Dismantling, inspecting and repairing these parts required some spacial tooling which we did not have. After searching on the net, I located some articles and pictures of the required tooling. Sharing these with Makis, he proceeded with fabricating these tools and eventually, not without considerable effort, he managed to dismantle the parts. Luckily, M.A.R.A. was able to supply some critically needed spare parts to complete the overhaul of the sliding pillar suspension!
All the other parts as brake drums, shoes, pedal assembly, steering box and linkages, rear axle as well as the trademark of the Aurelias, the transaxle (both a transmission, differential and clutch in one compact aluminum housing), were inspected and overhauled by Makis. While at it, the clutch disc and diaphragm were replaced. The nasty surprise came when we realized that the flywheel was missing from the parts trove. Fabio of M.A.R.A came to the rescue once again, pointing to two thicknesses used. ‘Which one do you need? Measure the thickness and let me know’ was his logical question. BUT, what to measure if one does not have the part in hand? After some back and forth, he revealed the little secret: flywheel sizes/widths/weights had a direct relation to the clutch disc diameter. Ipso facto, we could now answer this critical question, since we had a clutch disc in hand to measure and report!
Having worked on the various sub-assemblies of the car, having ordered and taken delivery of a rather large collection of spare parts from Italy and England, and at the same time Naftis having completed all the preparatory work on the B20S body hulk, the time came for the car to be moved (sans wheels) to the workshop of my friend Costas, where Makis would commence the critical V-6 engine rebuild. Ensuring a safe moving procedure, a special dolly was constructed; the car was placed upon it, fastened down and then loaded to a car transporter truck. At its new friendly guest house, the car would remain for few months until the completion of the engine overhaul and the installation of all the sub-assemblies, i.e. until the end of September 2014.
A special mention is due for the engine overhaul. Early on Makis and I had visited the machinist shop (apparently one of the most reputable in Athens) to who we entrusted the engine block, crankshaft, new pistons, liners, connecting rods and the two cylinder heads. We bought six new pistons & cylinder liners, while the already reconditioned in England heads were inspected, milled, polished and the valves checked for proper seating. The crankshaft was reground and balanced, new main and con-rod bearings fitted.
A number of other tasks had to be completed. The inner water cooling passages needed scraping and cleaning before the new liners could be installed along with their new O-ring rubber seals. Some studs required rethreading and/or replacement etc, etc. The Zenith carburettor was also entrusted to a specialist for reconditioning and replacing its jets & needle. Ditto for the radiator and fuel tank, brake/front suspension fluid canister which were disassembled, cleaned, pressure tested etc.
For a more thorough photo album documenting in great detail the jobs done by Makis click HERE!
The final stage of these works culminated by the milestone of fitting the engine in the engine bay, a task done on 9/9/14. At the same time both the prop-shafts and gearbox linkage rod were fitted. Several more details need to be addressed as: gas pedal assembly linkage where some additional parts are required and awaited from Italy, installation of the dual piped exhaust system, radiator & plumbing, brake & suspension fluids, clutch & hand-brake linkages, steering wheel etc.
Afterwards, the partially restored B20S will be transported once again, this time to the electrician’s workshop for fitting a new custom made wiring loom and installing lights, switches, the reconditioned instruments et. al., before we can reach yet another milestone: firing her up! 🙂
December 2014 update.
@the Electrician. Progress has been slowed down by few factors. Few more parts were needed which took some time to source in Italy. For example the windshield wiper mechanism, needed to be in hand before the dashboard panel and the instruments wiring could be installed. Second, after getting this vital part, the spindles upon which the wiper blades are fastened were shorter. This required careful machining. The list goes on and on.
Lancia may be a little-known Italian automaker in the United States, but it is one of the oldest and most innovative in existence. This firm, founded in 1906 by F.I.A.T. race driver Vincenzo Lancia, quickly earned a reputation for brilliant and unorthodox engineering, jewel-like build quality and athletic handling. In addition to these virtues, the Turin, Italy-based automaker created the car considered the first modern GT, the 1951 Aurelia Gran Turismo.
That car, built for eight years in six generations (series), embodied all of the characteristics that GT enthusiasts have come to love, including a beautiful body, powerful engine, accommodating interior and sophisticated road manners. Indeed, the fastback Aurelia racked up numerous racing wins, including the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, the Liège-Rome-Liège Rally, and a first in class at Le Mans. The final Series VI cars, built from 1956 through 1958, are the most refined, and carry values that have risen dramatically in recent years, highlighting their rarity and desirability.
The Aurelia GT–commonly called B20 after its factory code–was designed by Gianpaolo Boano at Carrozzeria Ghia, with styling refinement and body production by Pinin Farina. Following Lancia tradition, the monocoque Gran Turismo was more than simply a pretty face: it was powered by the first production V-6 engine, an aluminum OHV design with hemispherical combustion chambers, single or dual carburetors and a 1,991-2,451cc displacement. This engine was mated to a rear-mounted transaxle that combined the gearbox, clutch, differential and inboard-mounted drum brakes; a sliding pillar/coil spring suspension supported the front, while a coil-sprung semi-trailing arm independent–later a De Dion/semi-elliptic leaf spring setup–supported the back of the car.
As built, the Aurelia GT’s interior featured a split front and one-piece rear bench seat, and the four-speed manual gearbox was shifted on the column; a popular and valuable option was the Nardi floor-shift conversion. The Series V B20 of 1956, which made 110hp and 124-lbs.ft. of torque, gained a sturdier front axle, a stronger transaxle and a standard Nardi wood rim steering wheel, while 1957-’58 Series VI coupes, making 112hp and 127-lbs.ft. of torque, received vent windows and chrome hood trim; different final drive ratios were fitted each year to offset feature-driven weight gains. It’s believed that 300 Series V Aurelia GTs were built, with 620 Series VIs following in 1957 and 1958: 3,871 units encompassed the entire production run.
Lancias may be low-key, but the groundbreaking Aurelia Gran Turismo has experienced a steep rise in value in the last 40 years. Steve Peterson, president of the American Lancia Club, says, “Aurelias have particularly gone up in value, and their values vary with the Series.” He notes that earlier Series B20s are more highly valued than later examples like our Series V and VI, but even still, “I can’t imagine a good driver going for less than $80,000(*). They’re now attracting a different sort of customer than originally; I think there is a point in value, and Aurelias have reached that point, where cars become investment commodities, and they start to get churned.”
This article originally appeared in the February, 2012 issue of Hemmings Motor News.
(*)Prices of B20 & B24 Aurelias have risen significantly over the last two years. In fact the Sports Car Market SCM 2014 Price Guide on p. 36 lists B20’s at a low $97,500 & high $165,000 with a % Change Note of 30+!
Our newly acquired B20S #1548 project
During one of our recent private GarageNights in mid Feb. 2014 at Alex V.’s place, Athanase and myself had just returned from our RETROMOBILE 2014Paris, France visit, with the intent to show about 800+ photographs to the guys via a projector on a 2x2m. white screen. Over pizzas and vino rosso, the talk circled about a certain Italian project car which a mutual friend was considering of selling. It was a late Series VI Lancia Aurelia GT, carrying the factory code name B20S (S=sinistra, i.e. equipped with LHD), bearing a VIN 1548, denoting a car assembled on Friday 3rd May of 1957 and finished on Wednesday 5th June, coincidentally just one day before my birthday! See the ‘Registro Aurelia’ report: Dati Aurelia B20s 1548
Only 420 B20 examples were made during that year, before production ended next year with an additional 312 units. In total, from the introduction of the Coupé in 1951 up to 1958 only 2.640 units were made, hence a rare car indeed. This Aurelia was imported to Greece by our friend John K. few years ago from England, as it’s previous owner was an elderly British gent who walked out of the project, but quite luckily, had also acquired a second ‘basket case’ B20 as a parts donor platform. After clearing Greek customs and filling a room with her generous dowry of parts, John ventured into a slow paced restoration process entrusting the V6 engined car to an out of Athens body shop. The half started project by the Brit had progressed somewhat under John’s stewardship by rectifying usual rot areas for the model, such as door sills, treating wheel arches etc., etc. Needless to say, the original floorboards were in solid condition and required little attention!
Immediately a rendezvous to inspect the car was arranged and one sunny morning in late Feb. my childhood friend Athanase and my self drove the 200km distance to Argos, all along discussing the pros and cons of a 50/50 restoration venture together. John met us at the town’s entry bridge and we immediately went to the body shop to see and photograph the B20. After that session we went to downtown Argos to see the room full of spare parts, featuring among the various double items, two engine blocks and countless of unopened packages. A trove yes, but what a challenging task it would be to open them all up, sort, photograph each item, identify their part numbers, catalogue them, and most importantly determine which parts are missing and would need to be sourced. A Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson affair.
Over lunch at the nearby historic town of Nafplion, the car’s dossier was reviewed, establishing that her factory color was the mellow Azzurro (light sky blue) Lechler code: NF 8012, Name: AZZURRO AGNANO-CELESTE AURELIA, while over Espresso coffees a win-win deal was outlined. Armed with over 80 photos in the can, we drove back to Athens and slept on the whole project idea. Upon downloading the photos and viewing them on my iMac’s big screen, a lot of details pertaining to the car’s condition, usually not so obvious to the naked eye, were revealed. Such will be quite useful to us during the restoration process and will also serve us in building up the car’s dossier with ‘before & after’ documentation. The steering column and box, front and rear suspension components including the drive shaft, transaxle cum inner drum brakes, all need to be removed, repaired and restored. Then the naked body would need to be rotisseried and treated accordingly. Considering all these factors, we made our detailed offer which through the good and friendly mediation services of Alex V., was finally accepted by John. Ipso facto, we are now taking possession of this handsome GT aiming to do an appropriate restoration.
6th March 2014: the B20S arrived in Athens!
On the evening of 6th March 2014, the B20 arrived in Athens on a transporter truck, while another closed van in escort carried all her dowry of parts. John K. who oversaw in person the transport, also handed us three thick dossiers which contain the car’s history as recorded by its meticulous previous British owner, Peter W. Hudson of Leeds, Yorks. For example we now know that the B20 was imported to the UK from Italy on 1st August 1966 assigned the registration KUC91D, while her last Italian license plate No. was Roma 377510. Previous registrations include Roma 301413 while the initial registration was 23328 AP. We also now know that the first owner of B20S-1548 was Silvano Bernabei from Rome (fromNovember 25, 1957to January 13,1958). We are still checking if Silvano was related (son) to Inico Bernabei of Cisitalia 202 Cassone fame. Fast forward to today, her Greek Historic Vehicle plates now are I.O. 5875.
The plan was to position the car and parts into my Garage for inspection, parts sorting, cataloging etc, before assigning her to the body shop of choice for continuing the restoration under our custody. Few pictures and a video clip from that milestone day follow:
Another dream may come true
For some time in the past I was dreaming about what a ‘once in life-time’ experience it would be for motor heads like us to be in a position to enter into the Historic Mille Miglia. This notion was reinforced in October of 2013 when we had the pleasure of meeting in Athens with Stefano Pasini, a well known and respected ophthalmologist, writer-journalist, a car and audio enthusiast and also involved in the Organizing Committee of the MM! It suddenly clicked that owning a true MM eligible GT, this dream is a lot closer to becoming real… It is befitting to mention of the B20’s racing achievements, even briefly: These cars proved to be highly successful in competition, with perhaps the Aurelia’s most shocking achievement occurring at the 1951 Mille Miglia. The factory entered four Aurelias, and the B20 GT Mark 1 of Giovanni Bracco and Umberto Maglioli soon left the 2-liter competitors behind and began closing on the overall leaders, who were piloting cars with 50% to 100% more displacement. In the torrential rain, the 2.0 liter 80hp Aurelia closed five minutes on the leading 4.1 liter Ferrari 340 in the second to last leg alone, and was still closing at the end of the event, placing second overall! The Aurelia lost by 20 minutes in a 13 hour race, amply demonstrating the capability of both drivers and car. The Aurelia met with countless other competition successes, including another class win on the Mille Miglia plus further class victories at the Le Mans 24-hours, Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti, Pescara 6-hours, Carrera Panamericana and Targa Florio, among others.
The future will reveal if this dream will one day become a reality…
Given that Athanase has recently restored few classics (among them a Fiat 500, a Jaguar Mk II etc.), plus has recommissioned a Viotti and an Alfa Romeo Junior ‘Scalino’, likewise I have completed two ground-up projects, involving a 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupé (W111) and a 1962 VW Käfer 1200 (Beetle Typ 113), we have set up the following ‘works to be done’ outline pertaining to our restoration procedure:
Engineering and Mechanicals (mainly completing the body works)
Suspension and Brakes
Electrical (including a new wiring loom)
Paintwork and Exterior
Reassembly, testing and running in.
Our primary goals for this project are:
Finish with as an original B20S example as possible, but improve the cooling
Complete the project by December of 2014 and have it FIVA registered as an A/3 class
In time for filing an application to participate in the MM 2015
Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Specs
Configuration: 60º V6
Location: Front, longitudinally mounted
Construction: alloy block and head
Displacement: 2.451 liter / 149.6 cu in
Bore / Stroke: 78.0 mm (3.1 in) / 85.5 mm (3.4 in)
Valvetrain: 2 valves / cylinder, OHV
Fuel feed: Weber 40 Carburettor
Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
Power: 118 bhp / 88 KW @ 5000 rpm
Torque: 172 Nm / 127 ft lbs @ 3500 rpm
BHP/Liter: 48 bhp / liter
Chassis: unitary steel
Front suspension: Lancia sliding pillar, semi-elliptic leaf spring
Rear suspension: DeDion axle, semi-elliptic leaf spring
Steering: worm and sector
Brakes: drums, all-round
Gearbox: 4 speed Manual
Drive: Rear wheel drive
Weight: 1050 kilo / 2314.9 lbs
Length / Width / Height: 4370 mm (172 in) / 1550 mm (61 in) / 1400 mm (55.1 in)
Wheelbase / Track (fr/r): 2660 mm (104.7 in) / 1280 mm (50.4 in) / 1300 mm (51.2 in)
Mille Miglia (99), Coppa delle Dolomiti (48), Giro di Sicilia (26), Targa Florio (15), Monza (10), Coppa della Toscana (6), Carrera Panamericana (6), Giro dell’Umbria (5), Giro delle Calabria (5), Monaco (4), Pescara (4), Trofeo Sardo (3)
Most frequent countries:
I (225), MEX (6), F (5), MC (4), A (4), P (2), CH (2), BS (2), YU (1)