Beauty is more than just skin deep on this lovely little Lancia, for underneath those lean Pininfarina loins the Aurelia’s innards bristle with innovative engineering. For a start there is the compact alloy V6. Designed under Vittorio Jano, the man responsible for the great racing Alfas of the Twenties and Thirties, this free-revving, torquey little lump was the first mass-produced V6.
The revolution was not just at the front though, for at the back were the clutch and gearbox, housed in the transaxle to endow the Aurelia with near-perfect weight distribution. These innovations were first mated with the Pininfarina body in 1951, producing the Aurelia B20 GT coupe, often credited as the first of the new breed of modern postwar GTs. And the point of it all becomes clear when you climb behind the wheel, for although the Aurelia was never the most accelerative machine, its handling was so impeccable that 40 years on it still impresses with its masterly cornering poise.
The Spider bears a passing family resemblance to the Aurelia sedan, and even more so to the GT models. Neither of the closed versions had the wrap-around windshield though, or the equally distinctive half-bumpers; the Spider’s radiator grille was a slightly different shape, too.
Piling on the revs, the throbbing, gruff sound rose to a rich gurgle that is singularly tuneful from the twin exhausts.
The Aurelia Spider scored well in luggage-carrying capabilities compared with other two-seaters of the time.
The Spider and convertible were designated B24 Aurelias; B10, 15, 21, and 22 were four-door sedans, and B20 the GT coupe.
The flexible 60-degree V6 could pull the Spider from 20 mph (32 km/h) in top gear, yet ran to 5500 rpm.
With the B24 Spider you got all the benefits of the B20 coupe and fresh air too. Today this rare and charismatic roadster is the most prized of this illustrious family.
Relatively few Spiders were built, and most were exported to the United States.
The Spider’s hood-top air-scoop was a unique feature among Aurelia models.
The panel has just three major dials and a group of switches on a painted metal dash. It was devoid of the walnut-leather trimmings which British carmakers of the time considered essential for a luxury sports car. The elegant, adjustable Nardi steering wheel was standard equipment on the Spider.
Aurelias featured the world’s first mass-production V6, an all-alloy unit which progressively grew from 1754cc to 1991cc, to the 2451cc used in the B24 Spider.
The curvaceous Pininfarina shape is characterized by the sweeping front fenders and long luggage compartment. The Spider’s high-silled monocoque construction meant that the doors were small. Protection from the elements was fairly basic; the B24 had a simple hood with plastic side windows.
Until the Aurelia, Lancia had eccentrically persisted with right-hand steering, even for the home market. The adoption of left-hand drive makes this right-hander a real rarity.
For perfect balance, the weight of the engine was offset by locating clutch and gearbox in a unit with differential at the rear.
The B20 GT coupes, from which the B24 Spider was derived, achieved a second overall on the Mille Miglia and a Le Mans class win.
These represent the joint input of Lancia, designers and manufacturers of the mechanical parts, and Pininfarina, who styled the body and built the cars.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider (1954–56)
BODY STYLE Two-seater sports convertible.
CONSTRUCTION Monocoque with pressed steel and box-section chassis frame.
ENGINE Twin-overhead-valve aluminum alloy V6, 2451cc.
POWER OUTPUT 118 bhp at 5000 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Four-speed manual.
SUSPENSION Sliding pillar with beam axle and coil springs at front, De Dion rear axle on leaf springs.
BRAKES Hydraulic, finned alloy drums, inboard at rear.
MAXIMUM SPEED 112 mph (180 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 14.3 sec
A.F.C. 22 mpg (7.8 km/l)