Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1955 Lancia Appia – No Middling Car, No Middle Pillar

robadr has found and posted one of the loveliest of the new European post-war cars, the Lancia Appia. Like all Lancias, it was a blend of familiar older elements (sliding pillar front suspension) and boldly new ones (10° V4 with dual cams in block).  The Appia was designed to be the simpler, cheaper and smaller sibling to the V6 Aurelia, but like almost all post-war Lancias, it came out a bit more expensive to build than the market was willing to pay, and it never met its sales aspirations except in its last couple of years.

But it had many charms, my favorite being the utter lack of a center pillar.

This one with its doors both open is a later Series 3, but they were essentially all the same that way. Makes getting in and out of a compact car like this so much easier. And there was no loss of structural rigidity; Lancia was a pioneer in unibody construction going back to 1922, and this was not a problem at all, especially on such a fairly short car.

The Appia was created under the supervision of legendary engineer Vittorio Jano. The 1.1L V4 made 38 hp, enough to take it up to 75 mph (130kmh). A four speed transmission fed the power to the live rear axle.

The V4 had a mere ten degrees of angle between banks, which made it extremely short and rigid, not unlike VW’s VR6/5 engines. There were two camshafts mounted low on either side of the block, operating rockers that then worked the valves in the hemi heads. This is a Series 2/3 engine, with larger valves and ports and increased output, which peaked at 60hp.

There was also a coupe by Pininfarina (above) and a cabriolet by Vignale. They look great from the right direction, but can look a bit long in profile.

And there were special-bodied version by Zagato, like this GTE. Obviously its wheelbase was also not reduced, with the same result. One suspects that it would have been difficult to cut down the Appia’s floorpan and other key unibody elements, even though this was commonly done with other cars by the custom body builders.

Speaking of tails, the Series 1 has a very lovely one. It’s one of the better executions of the post-war pontoon look, with enough elements to keep from becoming visually boring.

The Appia was replaced in 1963