Lancia Aurelia B20

Lancia Aurelia B20 1950s Italian classic sports car

The Lancia Aurelia B20 was the first Gran Turismo car. It passed through six series of production - from 1950 to '58. GP stars Juan Manuel Fangio and Mike Hawthorn both drove B20s off-duty. Safe to say, then, that they were reasonably quick! Styling-wise, too, B20s were ahead of the field. After all, the design brief had been given to Pininfarina. Credit, though, must also go to Vittorio Jano. He it was who conceived the Lancia Aurelia B10 saloon car - in 1950. That had served as the template for the B20.

The B20 was powered by a V6 engine - again, the first in series production. Output was 112bhp - co-incidentally, the same figure as the B20's top speed. The alloy block was rubber-mounted - to reduce vibration in parts of the rev range. A single camshaft operated on light alloy push-rods. Hemispherical combustion chambers housed in-line valves. A double-choke Weber 40 carburettor squeezed through the juice. Transmission was via a 4-speed gear-box - and column-shift. Later versions of the B20 were fitted with DeDion rear suspension - to improve handling in the wet. Front suspension, too, was duly beefed up - to counter brake judder, and steering shimmy. Handling and braking on the 5th and 6th Series B20s would have been helped by their increased torque levels. That was the result of de-tuning the motor - by means of a 'softer' cam.

Lancia supplied a succession of coach-builders with a rolling chassis. Chief amongst them were Vignale. None of them, though, topped the simple sophistication of Pininfarina's original. Rarely has coupé bodywork looked so good. Arguably, Lancia broke the GT mould with the Aurelia B20 - at the first time of asking. If so, rival manufacturers have been trying to piece it back together ever since!

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