Raced Regularly, The Rest of this Lancia’s History is Uncertain
Text by Gautam Sen and photography by Makarand Baokar
This stunning Lancia racer’s early history seems to have been lost in the mists of time. Though the original car was probably built in the early 1930s, at some point it was converted into a modified racer based on a Lancia Augusta chassis (as the chassis length of about 2.6 metres is similar to that of the Augusta, though some have speculated that the base could have been an Astura). When the Lancia came to India it must have been powered by a narrow angle high compression V4 engine (taken from either an Augusta (1196cc) or an Artena (1924cc), which was rather difficult to tune. At some point this engine expired and was replaced by an engine from a decrepit SS-Jaguar 1½ Litre saloon.
The car was raced regularly in Calcutta in the 1950s and 1960s, when India’s oldest motorsport club, Calcutta Motor Sports Club (CMSC) actively organized race meets at the Alipore Mint airstrip within Calcutta, and later at Kanchrapara and Barrackpore. At some stage the car was owned and campaigned by Calcuttan Mr. Alan Ramsay. And at least on one occasion a lady, Ms. Faye Tailor, came to India and raced this car. Faye was known to have raced motorcycles and 500cc Cooper-engined single-seaters. Also, a certain Mr. Jack Wilkes, a famed motorcycle rider from Calcutta (who even raced in the Isle Of Man TT races) raced this car too.
For some years the car was owned by the aforementioned Mr. Alan Ramsay, and it is possible that he sold the Lancia in 1956, when he acquired an Allard J2. Mr. Mike Satow (who headed Imperial Chemical Industries) seems to have cared for the Lancia as well, as he did for several other Calcutta racing machines, and was a significant player in the Calcutta racing scene .
When Mike retired and moved back to the UK, he gave–or sold–the car to someone who kept it in a cigarette factory in Kakinada, in Southern India. This factory was eventually shut down and then abandoned. Yet the Lancia remained in a corner, with trees growing through it. Eventually, the car was ‘rediscovered’, hoisted over the wall and taken to the nearby city of Hyderabad, where it was restored. The new owner, Mr. Kumar Verma, then migrated to the US, selling the car to Bombay-based collector Mr. Harit Trivedi.
Though the engine and gearbox is from a SS-Jaguar, the chassis, axles, wheels, hubs and steering are all original Lancias. Being a significant car in Indian racing history, the Lancia was invited to take part in the 2008 Cartier Concours d’Elegance event in Bombay. Since then, Harit has been participating with this striking looking car at most Bombay-based classic and vintage car events, happy in the knowledge that a true piece of Indian racing history is under his care.