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*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1924
First Owner, Luxembourg (acquired circa 1925)Private Collection, JapanPrivate Owner, UK (acquired circa 2004)Current Owner (acquired via Thornley Kelham Ltd. from the above in 2015)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2019 (Charles A. Chayne Trophy)
Within the 114-year span of Lancia’s rich history, it is the Lambda model that is most revered as its engineering marvel. Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in October 1922, it combined a host of innovative features that years later would trickle down to other fine automobiles. This 5th Series example, carrying lightweight torpédo coachwork, exemplifies the best of the original design.
Production of the Lambda began in 1923, with power provided by a narrow-angle V-4 engine with the cylinders banked at a mere 13 degrees. The compact, single-overhead-cam engine with a displacement of 2,115 cc produced 49 hp and was placed in an equally innovative chassis. Braking came from four-wheel drums, and the Lambda was one of the first production automobiles to incorporate independent front suspension. Providing both strength and light weight, its monocoque design pioneered unit-body construction. The merger of these advanced components allowed for a top speed of more than 70 mph.
The Lambda enjoyed a long production run which continued into 1931 with modifications chronicled in Series 1 through 9. The marque catalogue “All the Lancias” recognizes Series 1 through 5 as those most true to the original concept, with the 5th Series of 1925 benefiting from the switch to a four-speed gearbox.
The dashboard tag on this example indicates original delivery in Luxembourg. It is then believed to have spent many years as part of a collection in Japan. In more recent years, it made its way to England where it was treated to a thorough mechanical restoration by marque experts Thornley Kelham Ltd. of Cirencester, UK. Cosmetic restoration followed and was completed in Southern California. It is presented in a striking combination of white paintwork for the body contrasting with black for its fenders, painted spoke wheels, canvas top, and leather upholstery. Its minimalist fenders and rear-mounted spare tire present a lithe profile, appropriately suggesting nimble grace on the road.
The current owner demonstrated its roadworthiness on three recent Paso Robles antique tours in 2017, 2018, and 2019. With its dominance on the open road established, it was invited to the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it fittingly was recognized with the Charles A. Chayne Trophy “awarded to the car with the most advanced engineering of its era.”
Prewar Lancias are seldom seen, and even fewer are restored to the impressive standards of this Lambda. At home on both the road or on any show field, this authentically restored, award-winning example would make the ideal centerpiece to any collection commemorating early automotive engineering excellence, as well as the genius of Turin’s Lancia.