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A general thread discussing Classic era Lancia is in order.   Of particular interest is this car that John and I were admiring that Bonhams is selling.   This checks all the boxes that I'm a sucker for:


1.  Unseen for years.


2.  One of a kind


3.  Quality chassis.


4.  Coachbuilt


5.  Attractive.


Anyone have any thoughts?




Barn Discovery
1932 Lancia Dilambda Town Car
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Castagna of Milan

Chassis no. 27-934
Engine no. 1031

3,960cc SOHC V8 Engine
Single Carburetor
100bhp at 4,000rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Sliding Pillar Independent Front Suspension – Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes

*Believed to be a 1932 New York and 1933 Chicago Auto Show Car
*In the present ownership since 1950
*Noted former owners including D. Cameron Peck and Henry B. Babson
*An intriguing and rare project car


One of the most gifted automobile engineers of all time, Vincenzo Lancia founded his own company in 1906, having previously been FIAT's chief test driver. Introduced in 1907, the first Lancia car showed an independence of thought and defiance of convention that would remain associated with the marque well into the modern era. Military vehicles, lorries, vans and aero engines followed, the latter enabling Lancia to accrue valuable expertise in the design and construction of vee-configuration engines. Lancia's first vee-engined model - the V8 Trikappa sportscar - appeared in 1922 and his third, the Dilambda, in 1929. Unlike its revolutionary Lambda V4 predecessor, the Dilambda did not use a stress-bearing body but reverted to a separate chassis. A new design, the latter possessed exceptional torsional rigidity, a virtue necessitated by its independent front suspension. Narrow-angle vee-configuration engines were a Lancia speciality, the Dilambda's 3,960cc overhead-valve unit having cylinder banks disposed at only 24 degrees. With 100bhp on tap, the Dilambda in its short-chassis form was capable of 85mph, an exceptional performance at the time. The Dilambda remained in production until 1935, by which time only some 1,700 of these luxurious cars had been built.


According to information supplied with the car and supported by marque authorities, this remarkable andrecently discovered Lancia is believed to have been the very car that had been displayed at the Auto Salons in both New York City in 1932 and the following year in Chicago. We are not certain if this would have been as an imported car, or perhaps for its coachbuilder Castagna. This well renowned Italian house had been founded in the mid-19th Century when Carlo Castagna took over the carriage-making business of his erstwhile employer, a Mr. Ferrari. With the coming of motorized transport, Castagna turned to making motor bodies, specializing in the chassis of prestigious makes including Isotta Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz, Hispano Suiza, Daimler, Lancia, Duesenberg and Alfa Romeo. By 1920 Castagna was Italy's biggest coachbuilder, with approximately 400 employees. Castagna exhibited at the New York Auto Salon at the Commodore Hotel in 1928 and 1929 and developed a good following among American clientele. In American cities, the coachbuilding nomenclature of Sedanca de Ville was commonly referred to as a Town Car and it is easy to see how a car of this guise may well have been marketed at the Salon.

The car's early history, assumed immediately post show circuit, is understood to be that the car was purchased new by a Mr. Henry B. Babson, being most likely the famed entrepreneur and breeder of Arabian horses - the Babson equine breeding line survives to this day. He lived in Chicago and could certainly have afforded the upscale European coachbuilt Lancia, perhaps seeing it at the show and acquiring it, as was quite common practice. From Babson it is said to have passed to Howe B. Willis in 1937. Willis was a noted Italian car aficionado and the founder of the Isotta Fraschini Owners Club in the 1950s (later disbanded). By the 1940s the car is understood to have been owned by famed pioneering car collector D. Cameron Peck of Chicago. George V. Campbell, Highland Park, Illinois advertised the car in the Antique Automobile Club of America in 1950 for $725. It was purchased by the late husband of the current owner Lauren Suter, on July 14, 1950. On file is fascinating correspondence between Suter and the various sources that he hoped may assist with maintenance, parts, or indeed refurbishment.

Close inspection of the car today endorses its likely application as a show car, as the design is both elegantly poised and low slung for a car of its form and the quality of the materials and plethora of chrome accents and details are all the sorts of features that manufacturers and coachbuilders packed on to demonstration vehicles.

Untouched in decades and unused for more, its fascinating features and history ensure that it would make a very worthwhile project and a striking and rewarding concours car if completed.



Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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Like most Italian cars the Lancia was on the smaller side compared to what we are used to in the wide open spaces of the U.S.A.    However,  it came with some very stylish body work.   Here are a few examples of the Dilamba courtesy of google.








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9 minutes ago, md murray said:

Yeah you're spot on. That's an awesome car. Gorgeous lines, it could really be a stunner. Those wheels look very domestic don't they? Are they correct you think?


Good catch.  The other cars all have knock offs.   Maybe something for the U.S. market?   It is LHD and many of the other cars are RHD.      If it really was an auto show car they should be able to come up with a picture.   There is supposed to be a lot of documentation,  but the auction companies don't do a good job of publishing any of it as part of the catalog.  You need to go sit in their library at the auction.

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On 3/2/2020 at 10:07 AM, md murray said:

Yeah you're spot on. That's an awesome car. Gorgeous lines, it could really be a stunner. Those wheels look very domestic don't they? Are they correct you think?

Yes, correct wheels = by 31ish they went with a larger diameter hub/knock off with a smaller ears (in this case no ear) - that you used a tool on verses a hammer on =  Keep in mid they wanted a little more bling in the middle of the wheel as they were dead set on several occasions at entering the American marketplace. 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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21 hours ago, K8096 said:

The mildew in the rear compartment is not patina.  You’d think they’d clean that off.   

Nope, that kind of moisture damage really does not brush/vacuum away matched to what appears to be mice damage too - sort of really stands in the way of showing it as a preservation car for a period. 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

There was some discussion about the Dilambda sold at Goodings back in 2014. I first saw the car c. 2000 in Detroit, and was struck by its small size and elegant proportions. It was repainted , but was still gorgeous. Never seen such a lovely Dilambda. Just so cute.... and this is normally a very large car... 

Dilambda  Gooding Monterey 2014 _DSC6437 sml.jpg

Dilambda  Gooding Monterey 2014 _DSC6440 copy.jpg

Dilambda Gooding Monterey 2014 _DSC6435 copy.jpg

Dilambda Gooding Monterey 2014 _DSC6439 copy.jpg

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There is an Isotta Fraschini under my great grandfathers friends but we could do with some eagle eyed person to help us with which model so we can trace it. Taken pre-WWII in Jersey (Island of) in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. 


Edited by LFduT (see edit history)
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  • 4 weeks later...

Tipo 8A or later variant, post-1924.  The radiator badge shape is rectangular, whereas the Tipo 8 has a circular badge with a brass pressing wreath surrounding it.  The top of the Tipo 8 radiator is curved.  Most likely wheel size is Rudge Whitworth 72mm maximum bearing OD,  which is probably minimal.   Most comprehensive listing used to be in Angelo Tito Anselmi's book on Isotta Fraschini.   You always find errors.  Text says that the first 20 cars were never sold; but car number 4 was recovered from near the Yarra River in Melbourne  years after it ran off the road beside the bridge at Studley Park.  I have photo of that car coincidentally taken by Jack Nelson only a couple of days before that happened. I copied the firewall as best I could to make wooden patterns for casting one in a number of sections, which are in a jig I fabricated so I can TIG weld it all back into a firewall for my Tipo 8 project.         It is fascinating to compare  the

1922 A model Duesenberg  with the Tipo 8 Isotta Fraschini of the same age.

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  • 10 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

I hope Stellantis now does something to seriously revive the Lancia marque. 


It has been limping along in recent years with rebadged US Chrysler cars and mini-vans, and presently, the aging Ypsilon, which is basically a rebodied earlier generation Fiat 500.



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