Restoration

See how the most famous Lancia in the world has been fully restored

The mystery of the car unraveled as it crossed an ocean and landed in England.

Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

Too many historic cars are lost to the scrap heap. The most famous Lancia in the world has been given a new life, rescued from rust and rot thanks to restoration specialist company Thornley Kelham. The Lancia Aurelia B20GT has impeccable heritage and now it is impeccably restored.

The story of the Lancia starts in 1951. It was purchased new by Giovanni Bracco, a wealthy race car driver and associate of Gianni Lancia, the second-generation boss at Italian carmaker Lancia. Within three months of purchase, Bracco had driven the Lancia to second place the Mille Miglia, first place at the Caracalla Night Race, and first place in its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Later that year it won the Pescara 6 Hour Race.

Lancia Aurelia B20GT The Lancia was originally painted black.Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

Despite the success, Lancia and Bracco saw room for improvement. The car's roof was lowered in an effort to improve the car's aerodynamics according to news reports at the time.

When the car arrived on the line for the 1951 Carrera Panamerica, its roof was lower but Bracco's driving skills weren't able to keep it on the road, crashing out on Day 4. The following year, the car arrived at the same race ready to compete with a new driver - Paredo.

Paredo was a Mexican architect who had bought the car from Bracco, rebuilt it, and drove it 2,000 miles from one end of Mexico to the other and secured a ninth place finish in its class.

Following the race, the car's history gets a little less certain.

Lancia Aurelia B20GT The car featured a lowered roof for the 1952 racing season.Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

The car was eventually discovered in the U.S. then it was shipped to Italy. Simon Thornley of Thornley Kelham found out about its existence while the car was en route. Its path to Italy involved a stop in the U.K. In a bonded warehouse in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England, Thornley began investigating the Lancia to confirm that it was indeed the fabled race car of Italian and Mexican racing fame.

A release from the company tells the tale:

"The engine and chassis plates seemed correct, filled in holes in the bonnet matched up to bonnet straps fitted in period and a lever next to the passenger seat seemed to fit with an internal system for adjusting the rear suspension, which was said to have been fitted to this car.

Underneath the peeling white paint, the hump back rear – grafted on at some point in its life – and the rust, all signs pointed to the fact that this was indeed B20-1010: the very same car that dominated Europe's rally scene in the summer of 1951."

Thornley entered into a partnership with the current owner of the Lancia to restore the car back to its condition in 1951 right before it crossed the line to start he Carrera Panamerica with Bracco behind the wheel, keeping it as original as possible.

The car's engine matched the original car.Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

The car moved from Southend to the Thornley Kelham shop in the Cotswolds where it proved quite puzzling. It had a lowered roof, but had been "extensively reprofiled to give it a beetle-like appearance; very hump-backed with bulging sides." Its rear glass was wrong, the trunk lid and floor were not original, it's fuel tank wasn't the right one, and the interior was covered in a think coating of undersea.

It was clear that this car had been Americanized - a late 1950s/early 1960s 'lead sled' conversion to be exact. All those parts that looked strange were all from another car and had been skillfully grafted onto the Lancia.

Workers kept as much of the original body as possible. Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

The Thornley Kelham team set to work. They removed the entire rear and crafted a new one used specs gleaned from 3D scanning the original fiberglass molds for the car. The metalwork team salvaged what they could while keeping the car structurally sound, and straightening it.

Then, Lancia experts were called in to sign off on the model. Once the blessing had been received, the car when to paint.

In its heyday, the B20-1010 was originally black. In a move typical for its day, the car was painted red for its 1951 Le Mans race before it was painted black again for its Carrera Panamerica debut. So, the restoration team first painted the car black, then red, then black again.

Signwriting was entrusted to Mark Amis who recreated the car's Panamerica look using period images and extensive research into matching brand logos and colors.

The badging and paint on the model was recreated to be authentic.Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

Research also played a big part into making the interior up to snuff. The team discovered that this particular model was fitted with Lancia Ardea seats in its heyday. Using images from its race at the Carrera Panamericana, Rob O'Rourke re-trimmed the interior to its original specification.

Well over 4,000 hours and three years of work later, the ex-Bracco Aurelia B20GT was complete.

Aurelia 'Outlaw' Thornley Kelham has committed to making nine one-offs of the fabled car.Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

"The restoration of this ex-Bracco Aurelia B20 GT was a very special moment for our business. Its discovery was a real spine-tingling revelation, and restoring it clearly came with huge responsibility. With the input of a number of high-profile Lancia experts, the generosity of enthusiasts all over the world, the dedication of its owner and the talents of our team in the Cotswolds, we are proud to have preserved an enormously important piece of Lancia history," said Thornley.

"Decades of modifications and misuse made this perhaps one of the most difficult restorations we've ever done, but the Bracco story is infectious, and now it's available for enthusiasts the world over to enjoy once more."

Aurelia 'Outlaw' The Oulaw version of the car features the famed sloped roofline.Photo courtesy of Thornley Kelham

The team did not stop there. They created the Thornley Kelham's limited-edition Aurelia 'Outlaw'. The one-of-nine cars each feature a lowered roofline, like the Bracco car, but come with a number of bespoke upgrades, including a bored-out fuel-injected Flaminia engine, modern disc brakes and nitrogen-filled front suspension. Each car is designed – both inside and out – to the exact wishes of its owner.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Photo courtesy of DM Historics

The Bentley 3 Litre is one of the greatest historic race cars of all time, but you might not think that based on a first glance. It was a Le Mans champion in the early days of the contest winning in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 beating the famously fast Bugattis of the era.

Bentley first built the car in 1919, debuted it at the Olympia Motor Exhibition, and made it available to coach builders a few years later. The cars were produced in Red Label, Blue Label, and Green Label formats with the Green Label models being the rarest and most highly specialized for racing.

DM Historics has taken Bentley 3 Litre chassis 589 (of approximately 1,600) and expertly overhauled. There's only 12,700 miles on the odometer of the model and it has a long Bentley Drivers Club history. The car served duty as the pilot car for the BDC Jubilee Run in 1969 as well as featuring heavily in the "Bentley Golden Jubilee Book 1919 -1969".

1924 Bentley 3 Litre, Chassis 589

Photo courtesy of DM Historics

History tells that the first owner of this Bentley was W H B Moorehead a magistrate from Newry, who had it finish in a four-seater combination.

The historic racing engineers in charge of the project starting in on the overhaul in 2018. The extensive renovation restored the car to a near factory standard, taking it back to very near the condition it was when it rolled off the line in 1924. Work was done cooperation with pre-war Vintage specialists Kingsbury.

The car has also been uplifted a smidge. It now has a two-wire Dynamo, electronic voltage regulator, 12-volt LED lighting, 6.5-liter rear axle, and replacement pistons. Repairers have kept the car's original three-cylinder engine with super carburettors and a period-correct four-speed gearbox. To meet modern standards, the car received rebuilt magnetos, and new and period-correct exhaust and fuel systems.

Chassis 589 has been restored to wear the most iconic Bentley racing livery. That includes a black exterior with refurbished wheels, lights, and a bespoke tonneau cover.

Its interior is equally as refined with red leather racing-style seats with contrasting black carpets and red piping. The original 18-inch four-spoke steering wheel is in place as are all the original dials and gauges, in full working order.

After a long history of ownership and restoration, the model is for sale again. The price? £285,000.

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The vehicle is, for now, merely a concept.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Cruising, the art of driving slowly through cities so you could see and be seen, was popular in the 90s. So popular in fact that jurisdictions nationwide passed ordinances banning the practice, which could create traffic woes. In a new video, General Motors and its Cadillac brand look to bring back cruising, this time in what appears to be a gussied up version of the Cruise Origin autonomous vehicle.

The structure of the Cadillac Halo portfolio concept vehicle looks like the shape of the Cruise Origin. This people mover, however, wears fancier clothes complete with exterior chrome design treatments and Cadillac badging. Its body is white while glass that appears clear from the inside is tinted black to eliminate some outsider peeping. The whole rig rides on large black wheels and is lighted by thin LED strips at the corners that follow vertical body lines.

General Motors Cadillac Halo concept car interior The vehicle's cabin has luxe accommodations.Photo courtesy of General Motors

There's a front window, rear window, and expansive glass roof. On one side, instead of side windows there are wall spaces with ambient lighting and wraparound hard plastic.

The video makes the Cadillac personal autonomous vehicle look like a living room on wheels. Occupants face each other on what looks more like a wraparound sofa than a traditional car seat and share legroom. There is also one recliner-like captains chair at the back that sits alongside a chaise lounge-like seat whose bottom fades into the rest of the bench seating.

The entire cabin is finely appointed with what looks like real wood and metal accents, sculpted seating, and flattering ambient lighting. The five-seater has seat belts for every passenger.

At the front of the vehicle is a long, horizontal screen that is raised, but can be lowered to near-flush showing what appears to be vehicle drive information. A larger screen that appears to be in the same location (which may just be a computer-generated error o GM's part) shows destination, time, occupant, weather, and climate zone control information.

General Motors Cadillac Halo concept car interior A large screen shows a picture of the occupants along with vital information.Photo courtesy of General Motors

When the screens are nested in the cabin, a hologram-like fire graphic can (apparently) be displayed.

There's an infotainment touch screen screen that illuminates on an embedded piece of plastic next to a seat that allows occupants to control navigation.

Voice control and gesture control are both included.

Though unseen, the video alludes to the fact that the vehicle is capable of "aromatherapy and light therapy". Many luxury cars allow buyers to add a fragrance to their vehicle so the aromatherapy aspect isn't too far out in left field. The vehicle's biometric sensors monitor vital signs to adjust humidity, temperature, lighting, aromatics, and ambient noise, according to a presentation by GM.

Though just a concept, it would be very GM-like for the company to be looking for ways to rebrand and reuse current platforms and mobility solutions.

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