Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Pinin Farina
Beautifully Restored Early Production ExampleWinslow Adams Jr., Lake Bluff, Illinois (acquired in the early 1970s)Jerry Johnson, Tulsa, Oklahoma (acquired from the above circa 2000)Stephen Bell, Denver, Colorado (acquired from the above in 2013)Current Owner (acquired from the above)
Colorado Concours d’Elegance, Littleton, Colorado, June 2014 (Best of Show)
By early 1955, the Lancia Aurelia B20 GT had been in production for nearly four years. The model’s impressive string of competition victories during that time had proved the merit of the manufacturer’s advanced chassis design, as well as the engine that later became renowned as the world’s first mass-production V-6.
At the Brussels Motor Show in January 1955, Lancia went a step further with the Aurelia, introducing a new sporting variant based on the fourth-series cars. Dubbed the B24 Spider America, the new roadster was a splendid combination of race-winning mechanical development and aesthetic beauty. The new Spider America amounted to far more than just a re-clothed version of the B20. It rode on a completely new frame, utilizing a purposebuilt version of the Aurelia chassis that was 200 mm shorter than its predecessor. Independent front suspension and inboard rear brakes contributed to superior handling, creating an ideal platform for the V-6 engine, which received a revised camshaft profile in the Spider America iteration.
Pinin Farina was chosen to body the athletic B24S, and the Torino coachbuilder executed a timeless design. The Spider featured a perfectly proportioned stance distinguished by split front bumperettes, delicately curved haunches, truncated cut-down doors, and a one-piece wraparound windscreen. The automaker added an “S” suffix to the model nomenclature to designate sinistra – Italian for left – for left-hand-drive cars.
In conjunction with the Spider America name, this signaled Lancia’s intention to market most examples to the US, where the company had gained a strong public relations image after competitive performances in the Carrera Panamericana road race. Lancia’s overall victory at the 1953 Carrera Panamericana, with Juan Manuel Fangio and Gino Bronzoni piloting the breathtaking D24 sports racer, was a particularly noteworthy achievement for the company.
The B24S Spider America remained in production for only two years before being replaced by a more conventional convertible version with a permanent soft top and roll-up windows. By the conclusion of production in October 1955, 240 Aurelia B24 Spiders had been built in total, including 181 left-hand-drive B24S examples. The Spider America has since grown to be one of the most collectible Italian roadsters of the postwar period, offering sensational aesthetics and competition-bred engineering.
This remarkable Spider America, chassis 1009, was the ninth B24 recorded in factory records, as confirmed by a copy of the manufacturer’s handwritten chassis log. Believed to be the second-oldest surviving example of the model, this Spider America retains its original matching-numbers engine (no. 1065) and benefits from a recent restoration to show-winning standards.
According to build records sourced from the Milan-based Aurelia Registry, this B24S Spider America was completed and tested on May 6, 1955. When new, the Pinin Farina coachwork was finished in grigio (gray) paint and trimmed with “light” leather. As an early left-hand-drive example, it is believed that 1009 was originally sold to the US.
According to the research of a previous owner, this Spider America had been parked in a barn in the Chicago area for several years when it was discovered in the early 1970s by Winslow Adams Jr., of Lake Bluff, Illinois. Mr. Adams purchased the rare B24S and registered his name with the American Lancia Club. Club directories record Mr. Adams’ ownership from 1976 through 1984.
Circa 1990, Mr. Adams moved to Topeka, Kansas. In the late 1990s, after another move, his family sold the car to Rolling Art, a restoration shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The company’s proprietor, Jerry Johnson, retained the Spider America until early 2013, when he offered it for sale.
In March of that year, word of the Aurelia’s availability reached Stephen Bell of Denver, Colorado, and he eventually drove to Oklahoma in August to inspect and retrieve the car. After completing the purchase, Mr. Bell returned the Spider to his facility in Colorado and embarked on a complete show-quality restoration.
As revealed by numerous pre-restoration photos, the B24S had been repainted in red at some point, but otherwise remained largely unchanged. The important drivetrain components remained in place, and many rare original parts had been safely kept with the long-stored car.
After all the parts were meticulously catalogued, the Aurelia was disassembled and treated to a bare-metal repaint in the factory color of Grigio Newmarket, while the interior was reupholstered in correct Vaumol leather. All ancillary mechanical parts were restored and correctly refinished as necessary, while the chassis was refreshed to factory-original standards, including the advanced brakes and suspension systems. Respected marque expert Tony Nicosia was retained as a consultant to help ensure that the restoration was completed to the highest standards. The exacting process was completed in June 2014, and the Spider America debuted at the Colorado Concours d’Elegance in Littleton, where it won the Best of Show award.
In 2014, the stunning Aurelia was sold to the current owner, and it has since been treated to a pampered life in his Texas-based collection. During the last two years, the B24S has been driven minimally, being presented at local cars-and-coffee events and charity exhibitions. It has recently been serviced to ensure good operating condition, and the restoration continues to present with impeccable authenticity.
This Spider America is believed to be one of just 68 examples remaining in existence today, and the second oldest car among those. It can expect a warm welcome at top concours d’elegance and driving events worldwide, including the legendary Mille Miglia retrospective, for which it is eligible. Restored to breathtaking condition and fastidiously maintained in a private collection since, this Aurelia B24S is among the finest examples of Lancia’s most desirable road-going sports car. For the collector who demands only the very best, Gooding & Company recommends a closer look at this superb Aurelia.