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 B20GTThe 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 B20GTThe 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.

Trending News

 
 

The winner of this Lancia will pay well over $200,000.

Bring a Trailer

Rad-era cars have been all the rage for a few years now, but a handful of iconic and legendary models have risen to the top. The Lancia Delta Integrale, whose heritage lies on countless rally stages around the world, is one. Even rough examples of the car draw big dollars at auction. This one, however, is not rough. This 1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Martini 5 Evoluzione is one of just 400 units produced for the model year, and shows just 104 miles on its odometer.

1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Martini 5 EvoluzioneJust 400 of the Martini cars were made for 1992.Bring a Trailer

Under the hood lies a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that made more than 200 horsepower. These cars could do 0-60 mph in around six seconds, which was a big deal in the 1990s and is still fairly quick by today's standards. The Lancia comes with all-wheel drive and a five-speed manual gearbox.

Inside, a classic three-spoke steering wheel and oh-so-neat suede-like seats come with red contrasting stitching. This is a 1990s car from a tiny Italian automaker, so the interior finishes are simple and (mostly) straightforward. The old-school tape deck stereo sits atop a row of confusingly-labeled buttons, but in most other ways, the Lancia's cabin looks delightfully utilitarian.

1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Martini 5 EvoluzioneThe car's interior is quirky, but straightforward as a 90s car should be. Bring a Trailer

At the time of this article, the Lancia's price tag had ballooned to $244,444, but there is still a half-hour left to go. Many auctions see the final price jump quickly in the final moments of bidding, as people desperately try to get hands on the car. Outside of massively-priced supercars, this is one that we'll say easily warrants its deep six-figure price tag.

Trending News

 
 

The 2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade is a fresh edition for the company's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

One of Toyota's most efficient cars is getting the blackout treatment. Like other Nightshade editions Toyota puts out, the 2022 Prius Nightshade has all the requisite black accents while maintaining its heralded powertrain.

The 2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade is available in front- and all-wheel drive. Buyers can add the treatment to Prius L Eco, LE, LE AWD-e, XLE, XLE AWD-e and Limited grades. It comes in the buyer's choice of Midnight Black Metallic, Super White, or Silver Metallic paint job. Front-wheel drive models ride on standard 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels while AWD-e cars get 15-inchers with black insert and lug nuts.

The exterior of the car also gets black headlight accents, mirror caps, door handles, color keyed rear deck spoiler and shark fin antenna.

2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade

2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

1/14

Each of the models is powered by the Prius's 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, which is paired with two electric motors. A continuously variable transmission is standard. All-wheel drive models get an EPA-estimated 51 mpg in the city, 47 mpg on the highway, and 49 mpg combined. Front-wheel drive versions do a slightly better 54 mpg in the city, 50 mpg on the highway, and 52 mpg combined.

Inside there are standard SofTex-trimmed trimmed, heated, power adjustable front seats and a SofTex-trimmed heated steering wheel and semi-gloss black center console. A 7-inch infotainment touch screen is standard, as is a six-speaker JBL sound system. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa come on every model, as are an auxiliary jack, three USB ports, a wireless phone charger, and one 12-volt outlet.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard and includes a pre-collision system with low-light pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, bicyclist detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and road sign assist.

All Prius models come with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 60-month/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Toyota's hybrid battery warranty is for 10 years or 150,000 miles from the vehicle's in-service date, whichever occurs first. The hybrid system warranty is for eight years or 100,000 miles from the vehicle's in-service date.

This latest member of the Nightshade family means that there are 11 Nightshade editions in Toyota's stable. The Prius is the first hybrid to get the treatment.

Trending News