Introduction to Lancia: A Century of Automotive Excellence
Spanning over a century since its inception in 1906, the Lancia brand has produced numerous vehicles that exude authenticity and a touch of aristocracy. Lancia cars often stand out due to their unique and previously unused technical solutions.
The Iconic Lancia Lambda: Birth and Design Philosophy
The most iconic Lancia classic is the Lambda model . According to popular lore, this vehicle, conceived by Vincenzo Lancia, was born out of a car accident. In 1920, during a visit to his mother, V. Lancia's car plunged into a ditch after a front spring broke on a rough road.
On March 15th, 1921, a significant decision was made in the Lancia workshop to design a car with independent front wheel suspension. This innovation was to incorporate V. Lancia's patented load-bearing unitary body technology and the V-form narrow-angle engine. Interestingly, official records suggest that the development of this model had already commenced in 1919.
Lambda's Innovative Features and Debut
In September 1921, Lancia's groundbreaking vehicle, the first of its kind, debuted from the production line. At the prestigious 1922 Paris Auto Show, this innovative Lancia Lambda model, named in line with the Greek alphabet tradition, quickly became the highlight. Distinctively, its structure deviated from the traditional longeron frame, adopting a more robust body skeleton design. This enhancement in structural integrity was achieved by attaching the body's base to the sides of the car, incorporating a specialized tunnel for the cardan shaft, a notable feature in automotive engineering.
The Lancia Lambda's engine, a V-form four-cylinder, set a new standard as the world's first mass-produced V-engine with an exceptionally narrow angle of just 14° between the cylinders. Breaking away from the conventional dual-cylinder block design typical in V-form engines, this innovative engine was constructed from aluminium and comprised a single elongated block, 1.5 times longer than its width, sealed with a large, efficient block sealer. This design marked a significant advancement in engine technology and manufacturing.
Performance Upgrades and Bodywork Evolution
The inaugural Lambda model featured a 2120 cm³, 49 HP engine, and was equipped with a multi-disc clutch and a 3-speed gearbox. Subsequent models, starting from the 5th series, were upgraded to a 4-speed gearbox. The 7th series, launched in 1927, saw an increase in engine capacity to 2375 cm³, boosting its power to 58 HP. By 1929, the 8th series further enhanced performance with a 2570 cm³ engine, delivering a robust 69 HP.
The Lambda was predominantly designed as a touring car, with the majority of these vehicles featuring the fashionable open 4-6 seat bodywork of that era. Certain models, particularly those with a shortened chassis, were outfitted with bespoke Farina two-seat bodywork. Additionally, modifications were available for a sedan-style body as well, catering to diverse preferences and needs.
Legacy and Rarity of the Lancia Lambda<
The Lancia Lambda, a revered classic, was in production from 1922 to 1931, encompassing nine distinct series. Its evolution focused primarily on structural enhancements and increased engine power. The Lambda is still celebrated for its innovative design and structure. Its distinctive bodywork, with the chassis integrated into it, gave the car a sleek, low-riding appearance akin to a swift hound, exuding dynamism even at a standstill. The car's low center of gravity and independent front suspension offered superior stability compared to its contemporaries, making it a preferred choice for affluent clients. Despite its status as an expensive, high-class vehicle, the Lambda achieved impressive sales, with 11,200 units sold.
Among the groundbreaking features of the Lambda, its original V-form engine with a low angle between cylinders stands out, having been utilized for over six decades. In the 1940s, Lambda production significantly adopted Edward G. Budd's technology, resulting in substantial changes to the bodywork construction.
The 1st series Lambdas are particularly coveted, with only 400 units produced. Today, finding a Lambda is a rare feat, as they seldom appear in advertisements, auctions, or similar venues. The value of these vehicles typically ranges between 100,000 and 200,000 Euros, reflecting their rarity and historical significance.
Lancia Lambda Classic Cars. 100th Anniversary Celebration. Turin, Italy