Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Lancia Coupés & Convertibles: the Aurelia specials

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Next to the elaborate line of Aurelia berlinas, coupes and convertibles offered by the Lancia dealers, Lancia also had a range of Aurelia chassis commercially available. These were complete platforms with engines, gearboxes, suspension and all the rest, ready to be fitted with a body like had been customary in the early years of car manufacture. Italian car manufacturers held on to that tradition longer than most manufacturers, probably because customers still were prepared to pay large sums of money for handcrafted Italian coachwork.
There were many coachbuilders in Italy, sometimes condescendingly called panel-beaters. Most of them were small local shops, keeping busy with repairs or small conversions of mass produced bodies for local customers. Others were specialized in processing metal panels and body assembly and worked as subcontractors for designers or manufacturers. But there were also many traditional coachbuilders who created their own designs and crafted completely new bodies in small series or as one-offs. Customers could order available designs or commission designs made after their own tastes and desires; a practice rapidly disappearing in the rest of the western world after 1950.
Lancia had Aurelia chassis with factory designations B50 up to B56 available until 1955. The various chassis differed in wheelbase and engines but most of them were made in very limited numbers. Most popular was the B50 chassis which was very similar to the underpinnings of the Aurelia B10 (first series) berlina. Some 484 of these chassis (and 98 of the B51 chassis with the same 1754 cc V6 engine) were made between 1950 and 1952 and a large part of these were fitted with a body by Pininfarina, mostly the popular 4-seater cabriolet. But almost any coachbuilder of some importance has created one or more bodies based on the Aurelia chassis. Besides Pininfarina renown names like Bertone, Ghia, Vignale, Allemano and Stabilimenti Farina offered designs for the Aurelia. Viotti made a very nice station wagon in American style for the Aurelia platform which sold 48 times. And also non-Italian coachbuilders like Worblaufen and Beutler have made special bodies for the Aurelia.

1951_Lancia_Aurelia_B50_cabriolet_Stabilimenti_FarinaThe many custom designed bodies for the Aurelia varied from sedate to bizarre and few could be regarded as more pleasing designs than what was offered by Lancia. But without exception they had unique qualities and shapes which made them stand out from the rest.
Carrozzeria Vignale, established in 1948, was a newcomer that impressed with designs on the Aurelia platform, mostly drawn by Giovanni Michelotti. Many of these were 2+2 coupes like shown above, usually elegant and sometimes a bit bulbous. Vignale produced an amazing diversity of bodies on the Aurelia platform and probably was the next best customer for it after Pininfarina.
Another carrozzeria which had reverted to the talents of Michelotti in the past was Stabilimenti Farina. This was the firm of Giovanni Farina, the older brother of Battista "Pinin" Farina, and established as early as 1906. Battista had worked for his brother's company until 1930, when he left to set up his own coachworks which eventually overshadowed that of his brother. Stabilimenti Farina continued up to 1953 and was renown for high quality and tasteful bodywork. It entertained a good relationship with Lancia so it's no surprise that some Aurelia chassis were bodied by Stabilimenti Farina before it closed down.
Best known Aurelia with Stabilimenti Farina body was the B50 Sportcoupé, a very elegant and modern looking car. The cabriolet shown here has similar features but without the sweeping roof line of the coupe it seems less striking. Still, it appears more up to date than the "regular" 4-seater cabriolet by Pininfarina, which was produced in much greater numbers.
(picture by Sébastien Simon, used with permission)

1952_Lancia_Aurelia_B52_coupe_WorblaufenOutside Italy only limited numbers of Lancia chassis were fitted by bodies by local coachbuilders. A number of Aurelia chassis were sold to Switzerland and some of those received elegant bodywork by Carrosserie Worblaufen. Designer and owner Fritz Ramseier created a few cabriolets and coupes on this platform and especially the coupes, like the one shown here, looked attractive and tasteful, yet traditional.
(picture by Sébastien Simon, used with permission)

1953_Lancia_Aurelia_B52_coupe_BertoneCarrozzeria Bertone is one of Italy's oldest still surviving coachbuilders. It was founded in 1912 and has produced bodies for practically all Italian car manufacturers. Lancia subcontracted Bertone for some production work on the Aurelias, especially the manufacture of the B15 long wheelbase berlina. Remarkably Bertone didn't fit many commercial Aurelia chassis with bodies.
Only a few special Bertone bodies on the Aurelia platform are known. There was a small series of coupes named Victoria built on the B50 chassis, again a creation from the hands of Michelotti. The car shown here is more obscure; it's probably a showcar made for the 1953 Turin Motor Show. Its design is intriguing; a combination of dynamic lines and stately appearance with an unique headlight configuration.
(picture by Sébastien Simon, used with permission)

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