Racing cars always have torrid histories: accidents, constant modifications to keep up with changing regulations and, at the end of their career, they are often used as prototypes to test new solutions.
Particularly in the 1950s, if they didn’t end up crashed against a tree, at best they would be dismantled to provide spare parts for later models. One exception is the splendid D25 Spider Sport. An immaculate specimen is carefully preserved in the Lancia Museum and has become one of the star attractions of the FCA Heritage collection.
Like all Lancias, and not just competition cars, the D25 is a technological marvel. It is a one or two-seater sports car with a covered-wheel body built around a tubular frame in chrome-molybdenum steel and a front-mounted engine integrated onto a load-bearing chassis. The six-cylinder engine has a 60° V-architecture, dual ignition, three carburettors and a 3750 cm3 capacity capable of delivering 300 hp at 6500 rpm.
For perfect weight balancing, the clutch, gearbox and differential are co-located with the rear axle. The car has independent front suspension with transverse leaf spring (a layout subsequently used until the Flavia and Fulvia) and De Dion rearsuspension with two cantilever leaf springs.
On 18 October 1954, Lancia announced its withdrawal from sports car competitions to focus solely on Formula One. According to legend, driving ace Alberto Ascari convinced Gianni Lancia to build another D25 for the 1955 Carrera Panamericana, which he was eager to enter.
A successor to the D24, whose long winning pedigree notably included a 1-2 finish at the Carrera Panamericana in 1953, the D25 was conceived by Gianni Lancia and designer Vittorio Jano not only as a sport car, but also to test technical solutions destined for the D50, a Formula One car. However, the D25 only started one race and Lancia decided to focus all its efforts on the D50, until Alberto Ascari—who had switched from Ferrari to Lancia in January 1954 to compete in Formula One with the D50 and had won the 1954 Mille Miglia in the D24—managed to persuade Gianni Lancia to build another D25 so that he could take part in the 1955 Carrera Panamericana.
But fate took a cruel twist on 26 May 1955, a few months before the race was due to be held in Mexico, when Ascari was killed while testing a Ferrari at Monza, having been given special dispensation by Lancia to compete there. So devastated was Gianni Lancia by the Milanese driver’s untimely death that he decided to permanently withdraw from motor racing. The D25 car was eventually transferred from the Pininfarina design studio, still in immaculate condition, to the Lancia Museum for preservation.