The Cohort Sighting of a Lancia Aurelia B24 Spyder on Sunday displayed the beauty of this early ’50s Italian classic. Rare and remembered by few today, Aurelias were rare and almost unknown in the United States 30 years ago, only two decades after Lancia built them and raced them in Europe and North America with great success. A brief Road & Track article from October 1984, rediscovered after Sunday’s Cohort Sighting, tells part of the story of the Aurelia.
The Aurelia was far more than just a beauty; it was a world-class athlete as well. The first major product of the second generation of the Lancia family to run the company, the Aurelia series began as a four door sedan in 1950, then added the B20 coupe in 1951, followed by specialized D20 competition coupes and the D23, D24 and D25 spyders. The Aurelia soon built a formidable record of competition success: second overall in the April 1951 Mille Miglia (B20), first in class at the 24 Hours of LeMans in June 1951 (B20), 1-2-3 in the 1952 Targa Florio (B20), first in the 1953 Carrera Panamericana (Juan Manuel Fangio in a D24 Spyder) and Targa Florio (D20), first in the 1954 Mille Miglia (Alberto Ascari in a D24 Spyder) and Targa Florio (D20).
The author of this brief article was Road & Track’s Lawrence C. Crane, who had owned numerous Italian classics from Alfa, Lancia and Ferrari and bought a B20 because it was “the only car … of serious historical significance without a stratospheric price.” He was clearly right about the Aurelia’s historical significance, but his comment about being without a stratospheric price is clearly dated.