Lancia Aurelia B20 GT – 1951

Before and after World War II, Lancia never introduced a new car without an accompanying strategy to develop a series. The company was expert at demographic subdivision, and ultra-sensitive to the sudden shifts in public taste. The Aurelia series as a whole, and the Aurelia B20 GT in particular, typified the success of their vision.

At its inception in 1949, the Aurelia was the most advanced production car anywhere, and it was styled by Vittorio Jano following his colossal success at Alfa Romeo. Its sleek, fastback lines embodied the aesthetic of modernity; and it was the first Lancia to get a V6 engine. It appeared either as a four-door berlina (sedan) or as a limousine. Both were solid and comfortable, if a little short on true luxury and acceptable performance. By 1951 both problems had been addressed — and the triumphant solution emphasized by the introduction of what has often been called ‘the first true Gran Turismo (GT)’, the sporty, two-door Aurelia B20 GT. The coupe’s wheelbase was shortened in the hands of designer Gian Paolo Boano (son of the owner of Ghia), and the V6 upgraded to 2 litres, tuned for excitement by production boss Pininfarina.

With such an Italian ‘dream team’ as midwives, the Aurelia B20 GT was recognized instantly as a classic. It was rapidly improved, in line with Lancia’s willingness to respond to its customers, eventually appearing in six official series to fulfil the demand spurred by the Aurelia’s persistently excellent results in races like the Mille Miglia during the early 1950s. It had speed, the power to dig in its heels, and finesse. Best of all, it brought some of the best Italian design and engineering within financial reach of the relatively many.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Italy

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1951 (until 1958)

ENGINE:

1,991 cc V6

PERFORMANCE:

Series I had a top speed of 100.5 mph (162 km/h)

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

By its final series 6 version, the Aurelia 620 GT’s early, aluminium, sporty exhilaration was restrained by around 600Ibs extra of refined luxury (chromed brass trim and other features essential to maximum comfort); and though much more powerful, the Series 6 handled more like a sedan than the sporting superstar it had been.

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