Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Viotti
Louwman Museum, Den Haag, NetherlandsCount Vittorio Zanon di Valgiatura, Torino, ItalyGiuseppe Bosio, Brescia, ItalyChristoph Ringier, Switzerland (acquired in 2012)Current Owner (acquired in 2016)
Zoute Concours d’Elegance, Belgium, 2017 (Most Elegant or Special Interior)
It has been said that Lancia never made a bad car before the war, and this is likely a true statement. The first Lancia rolled out of the factory in Torino, in 1907, the brainchild of the great engineer and racing driver Vincenzo Lancia. The marque soon became synonymous with technical innovation, and when the revolutionary Lambda model was introduced in 1922, it was the world’s first production car with monocoque construction and independent front suspension, combined with a V-4 engine, lightweight bodywork, and highly efficient four-wheel brakes. For the five decades during which Lancia remained a family-owned business – itself a record in the volatile and uncertain business of automobile manufacture – it built one remarkable model after another: Lambda, Dilambda, Astura, Artena, Aprilia, Aurelia, Flaminia, and Fulvia. It was only natural that Lancia became the first choice of discerning connoisseurs who appreciated quality of design, engineering, and construction, along with longevity and a subtly conservative appearance.
The now legendary Astura model was introduced in 1931 with a 2.6-liter narrow-angle V-8 engine. By 1934, it had been enlarged to 2.9 liters for added low-end torque and the chassis’ advanced specification included power-assisted brakes, adjustable rear shock absorbers, central chassis lubrication, and a light, easy-to-master gearbox. Top speed was more than 80 mph, with handling, roadholding, and brakes to match.
The Astura chassis was available in long- and short-wheelbase versions, and the greatest Italian carrozzerie, such as Pinin Farina, Castagna, and Viotti of Torino, competed to create luxurious, beautiful, and sporty bodies for it. As a result of these commissions, Asturas became regular concours d’elegance prize winners in the 1930s, just as they are today.
One of the rare short-chassis cars, this Astura, numbered 33-5116, is believed to have been delivered new to a customer in the Netherlands. It is one of only six to carry elegant four-seat Gran Sport Torpédo coachwork designed and built by Viotti and features the elaborate moldings and delicate finishing details for which that coachbuilder was justly famous.
Previous owners include the internationally renowned Louwman Collection in the Netherlands, noted collector Count Vittorio Zanon of Torino, and Giuseppe Bosio of Brescia, Italy. From there, the car went to a respected Swiss collector before passing to its current owner, a leading European Lancia expert who commissioned a cost-no-object restoration to bring the car to its present magnificent condition. Beyond its superb condition, this Astura is noteworthy in that it retains its original body, engine, chassis, gearbox, and other major mechanical components.
Lancia specialist Thornley Kelham of Cirencester, England, performed an elegant bare-metal two-tone respray in sage and dark green, plus a full mechanical service. The wheels were refurbished and fitted with new period-correct Michelin tires, while the interior was re-trimmed by leading craftsmen at O’Rourke and Co. of Surrey, England. Leather was specially commissioned by the owner from Foglizzo in Torino and color-matched to the exterior paintwork. Its special finish was achieved by using the original prewar embossing plates still owned by Foglizzo, which supplied leather in the 1920s and 1930s for Lancia and other Italian car manufacturers. New carpets were fitted, and the original top frames were refurbished to accept a new convertible top. New tonneau covers for the front and rear compartments were also made during the restoration. A full file is available for inspection with invoices and photographs for the work carried out.
Today, this rare and sporting short-chassis Lancia Astura not only presents in beautifully restored condition, but is also reported by its owner to be a strong, impressive driver. It will be a welcome entrant on tours and rallies as well as major international concours events, poised to repeat the successes achieved in recent years by its long chassis siblings.
Offered here is a rare opportunity to acquire a sophisticated Italian masterpiece from a time when technical innovation, superb handling, and understated elegance went hand in hand.