For Sale: F1 Driver Owned 1955 Lancia Aurelia Spider B24 America ($1,162,000)
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F1 Driver Owned 1955 Lancia Aurelia Spider B24 America ($1,162,000)

Hexagon Classics By Hexagon Classics
June 14, 2016

Written by Andrew Golseth

1955 Lancia Aurelia Spider G.T. 2500 B24

ASKING: £945,000 | $1,162,000 USD | €1,059,260

The Glory Years

The 1950s saw some of Formula 1’s most spectacular machines, races, and drivers.  While Stirling Moss and Fangio were the highlight heroes, it took some serious courage (balls) to get behind the wheel of one of these death traps.  Among the ranks was the rather unknown and wealthy Italian entrant, Cesare Perdisa who came from the family that owned “Quattroruote” magazine (still around today).   As if driving these beasts was not difficult enough, Perdisa performed his 1955 Formula 1 debut at one of the world’s toughest circuits, the Monaco Grand Prix.   Little did Perdisa know, he was starting his career at what would become one of the most famed races of all time.  

THE JEWEL

Monaco had not seen proper F1 cars since the 1950 season and the standing lap record was set in 1937.  Naturally, the drivers saw the opportunity to leave their mark at the jewel in the Formula 1 crown.

Mercedes came into the weekend looking strong (sound familiar?) – Stirling Moss was fresh from a victory at the Mille Miglia and would be alongside teammates Fangio and Hans Hermann in the short chassis W196s.  Ferrari wasn’t looking as good considering their plans for a Monaco specific engine failed during testing and they resorted to the previous years’ cars, but still had the talents of world champion Nino Farina.  

Perdisa was paired with the Frenchman, Jean Behra in their Maserati 250Fs, while Castellotti and Ascari were the pilots for Lancia.

INTO THE HARBOR, ONTO THE PODIUM 

Perdisa’s race started rather uncompetitive, being lapped by the leaders at one point.  Behra, considered the more veteran driver, spun off with his 250F so Perdisa was summoned into the pits to hand over his car to the Frenchman – talk about team orders.  Rather than trotting off to the bar, Perdisa instantly jumped into his teammates injured car and was back in the race (as if a fully functioning 1950s race car wasn’t terrifying enough).  

Perdisa played the long game in his limping Maserati and waited out the cars ahead.  Mercedes ran into reliability issues, then as Ascari exited the tunnel he lost the car approaching the chicane and capsized into the harbor, leading to Perdisa’s debut 3rd place finish.  While his podium wasn’t earned with heroic overtaking, you have to give it to the guy – this was an impressive outcome for a debut performance.

Although Cesare Perdisa earned another podium at Spa in 1956 (via a shared drive with Stirling Moss), his career was short-lived as he retired after only 8 races after a testing accident with Ferrari and learning about the death of his friend, Castellotti.

Interestingly, one month before his podium debut at Monaco, Cesare also took delivery of this Lancia Aurelia Spider which turned out to be significant in its own right.

Italian Sports Car, American Dreams

In 1950, Lancia unveiled its first production car since the end of World War II: the Aurelia. Featuring Pininfarina designed bodywork and assembled at Ghia, the Aurelia proved to be quite popular in part by their stunning sleek aesthetics.

They weren’t all show and no go, however. The Aurelia was the first production vehicle to be powered by a V6 engine. These all-aluminum 60-degree pushrod six-cylinders feature hemispherical combustion chambers and a single-camshaft between both banks. To help keep the front engine rear-wheel drive layout balanced, the four-speed dogleg gearbox was mounted at the rear, connected to the transaxle with the clutch and differential packaged within the bell housing.

In addition to its sweet engine the Aurelia featured standard hub-mounted drums while the rear has inboard drum brakes to minimize unsprung weight. The forward suspension utilized a unique sliding pillar design while the rear received a semi-trailing arm suspension.  It’s also worth noting, the Aurelia was the first production car fitted with radial ply tires as standard equipment—Michelin X Radials.

Specifically with coachwork in mind, a slightly modified chassis was offered for those who desired a custom, more stylish Aurelia. After a successful short run of 2+2 seater coach built cabriolets produced for the European market, an opportune time to try a similar limited open-top variant for the American market presented itself. Feeling Americans would be more interested in a sportier version, the B24 “America” was molded into a two-seater Spider, which hit U.S. shores in 1954.

The minimalistic dashboard features only the bare essential instrumentation and is even void of a glove compartment door. Instead, the glovebox goods are restrained by a stylish leather strap, which matches the door pulls beautifully. The doors are topped with fully removable framed glass that are divided to accommodate large front vent windows—the secondary pieces of glass are fixed.

Of the many Aurelia series and variations, the B24 Spider was produced in the fewest numbers, making it the rarest Aurelia model. Only 240 Spider Americas were built and, of those, just 59 were right hand drive. By 1956, a revised convertible with an emphasis on luxury over sportiness replaced the Spider America.

The Car

This rare Lancia Spider Aurelia GT 2500 B24 is believed to be the third right hand drive spec model constructed and the fourth overall built. Chassis B24-1004 was delivered new to Maserati/Ferrari Grand Prix driver, Cesare Perdisa. This rust free car has been kept in Northern Italy’s mild climate nearly its entire life and presents in time-capsule-like condition, both inside and thanks to a no-expense spared restoration totaling more than 50,000 Euros.

The Pininfarina body was resprayed in its factory original rosso non-metallic red and is adorned with all of its original trim, to include bumpers, lighting equipment, brightwork, and steel wheels complete with “Lancia” embossed center caps. This documented complete numbers matching specimen’s original odometer reads less than 25,000 kilometers since new and is believed to be accurate.

Like the reupholstered tan leather interior and refreshed body, the drivetrain and original alloy 2,500 cc V6 and four-speed dogleg transmission were completely rebuilt to ensure turnkey reliability.

CONDITION

Exterior Highlights

Exterior Blemishes

Interior Highlights

Interior Blemishes

Mechanical Highlights

Mechanical Blemishes

Originality

Although the paint is not the factory-applied coat, the car was repainted in the correct original color, as to be expected of a 60-year-old vehicle. The body retains all of its original brightwork, badges, lighting equipment, and wheels. All of the polished trim presents in exceptional condition with no major imperfections to note.

Mechanically, like the bodywork, the car has been sympathetically restored and retains all of its original equipment. This includes the car’s factory installed engine and transmission.

Documentation

Included in the sale is original build sheet, owner’s manual, maintenance receipts, documented restoration invoices, and various archived historical paperwork.

OWNERSHIP TIMELINE

After Perdisa’s ownership, #1004 bounced around Italian elite until its most recent, and longest tenure

OUR THOUGHTS 

Inquire: classicshexagon@gmail.com

It goes without saying this is an extremely rare car. Even more rare is to find one available on the open market as most trade caretakers via closed private deals. Of the few offered for sale publicly, we’ve seen serious figures—nearly 2 million U.S. dollars. The price for admission is a high commission, but we think you’ll forget all about breaking the porcelain pig once behind the wood-rimmed wheel, listening to that all-alloy V6 sing, while chasing the sunset through that panoramic windscreen.

Cesare Perdisa:  He was no Fangio or Moss, but the connection to F1 in the 50s is undeniably cool and something that definitely sets this example apart.

Cockpit view: The unique driving view is uninterrupted thanks to a raked panoramic low cut windscreen which provides for an awesome view.

Work of art: The curvaceous coke-bottle bodywork is another Pininfarina signature design—notice the lack of exterior trunk and door handles to keep things tidy. In typical Italian styling of the era, the front fender line gradually descends rearward starting from above the front wheel arches. This trailing profile carries just past the rear of the door where it meets the rear fender arch bulge—an elegant and chiseled athletic trait. Another unique Spider feature are the front and rear two-piece split bumperettes. 

MEET THE SELLER

This car is for sale by Paul Michaels of Hexagon Classics. You can learn more about them here.

Interested in the car or would like to learn more?  Click the button below to get in contact with the seller.

 

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