The Lancia Aprilia is regarded as the spiritual testament of Vincenzo Lancia, who suddenly died shortly before the launch of a car that would go on to become legendary.
Prior to its participation in the 2017 edition of the Mille Miglia, he ground-breaking first-series Lancia Aprilia, acquired by the Lancia Collection as far back as the early '70s, was restored to all its former glory.
It was an all-over restoration job that included both the bodywork and mechanics. The car was sound, or basically in good condition, but to restore it in a rigorous and professional manner, it was completely dismantled and then reassembled very carefully, trying to repeat the same sequence that was followed during its original assembly.
Starting in January 2017, it took five months of hard work to get the Lancia Aprilia ready for the Mille Miglia.
Most of the work involved restoration pure and simple, with components replaced only where strictly necessary, such as the installation of an original Zenith carburettor instead of the anachronistically modern Weber fitted at some point in the car's history. All the engine's pistons and connecting-rods, including the crankshaft main bearings, were replaced.
The paint was stripped from the bodywork and all moving parts of the doors, bonnet and boot with a high-pressure water jet to avoid damaging the surfaces [photo: 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16], prior to repainting with a primer in the original dark blue colour with a gloss paint without final varnish, in accordance with the period specifications. [photo 23]
The reground engine was tested on a test bed with brake [photo: 17, 19, 20, 21], to ensure it operated to perfection at all rpm. Every component, from engine block to cylinder head, was cleaned and sand-blasted to restore the original appearance of everything under the bonnet.
The starter motor [photo 2] and dynamo were also cleaned and their worn parts regenerated before reassembly on the car, and the radiator [photo: 3, 4] was overhauled, inspecting every single part to prevent leaks and obstructions in the water circuit.
The leaf springs [photo 5] of the suspensions were cleaned and greased, with new anchor bolts fixed in the mounting points, and the shocks were rebuilt inside their original casings.
Inside the car, the upholstery, door panels and head liner were sanitised and cleaned, and the padding was reconstructed with new expanded materials, while the stunning period instrumentation was cleaned and checked, including its night lighting.
A few rather unorthodox repairs had been carried out over the years: the boot, for example, had been repaired with strange patches on the floor. The peculiar thing is that the job was done using recovered scrap material and then hidden under the mat. It involved a corrugated sheet, similar to the type used in planes at that time, as well as on some French cars in the 1940s. The boot floor has now been restored to its original condition.
To conclude, the sourcing of tyres [photo 8] with the original tread pattern and cross-section, and the cleaning and recoating of the wheel rims with their chromed studs, provided the perfect finishing touch to the project.
The restoration of a vintage car is no simple overhaul, but a painstaking job in which every authentic detail of the car needs to be respected. The process therefore involves studying documents in the company archives, searching for the original design information and drawings, and trusting in FCA Heritage’s specialist history experts and mechanics, who are dedicated to preserving the charm of these timeless treasures.
The Classic Lancia services, which were launched in November 2016, also include a Certification of Authenticity, whereby the model is analysed by FCA Heritage’s Officine Classicheworkshops, and a Certificate of Origin, which enables a car’s history to be traced using the chassis number. Classic Lancia services can be requested online, or by contacting the call centre on 0080052624200.
Find out more about FCA Heritage Classic Services.