1938 Lancia Astura 3.0L RoadsterSOLD
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Estimate: 125,000£-175,000£
Estimate: €182,000 - €254,000
Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of £128.513

From the Collection of Mr. Bernie Ecclestone

82bhp, 2,972cc V-8 engine, single Zenith 30 DVI double-choke downdraught carburettor, four-speed manual transmission, Lancia patented sliding pillar front and semi-elliptical leaf spring rear suspensions, four-wheel drum brakes.
Wheelbase: 136.8in. (3475mm).

The Astura was the third of the V-8-engined Lancias, following the Tri-kappa of 1922 and the Dilambda of 1929. A large and imposing luxury car, the Astura was the first Lancia model not named after a letter from the Greek alphabet, and was produced in four series from 1931 until 1939. The 19 degree narrow 'V’ Astura engine was originally of 2.6-litre capacity, producing 72 bhp, and was surprisingly neat and compact for an eight-cylinder engine. However it was soon found to be underpowered for such a large car. Consequently, the third series cars were fitted with a 3-litre engine, increasing the power output to 82 bhp and the top speed to 130 km/h (80.8mph). A four-speed and reverse gearbox was operated through a single dry-plate clutch.

Asturas had a box-section chassis frame with Lancia’s patented sliding pillar suspension at the front and a live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and Siata-type shock absorbers at the rear. An interesting feature was the rubber roller race which supported the steering column where it passed through the dashboard; in addition, all cars had servo brakes, 12 volt electrical systems, and centralized chassis lubrication. Changes to the fourth series cars included a platform frame (replacing the previous box-section chassis) and the fitment of hydraulic brakes. Out of the total production of 2,946 Asturas, 421 were from the fourth series.

Coachbuilders were drawn to the scale and sporting character of the Astura, resulting in some of the most beautiful coachwork of the 1930s. Firms including Touring, Castagna, Viotti, and, most famously, Pinin Farina produced designs for fitment to the Lancia chassis. Coachwork became even more adventurous, and to some extent more influenced by American design trends, after the traditional upright radiator was replaced by a more modern sloping design in the mid-thirties. As it was such a large and imposing car, with few domestic competitors, the Astura was naturally very popular with the Italian government for use as official transport. Numerous examples were bought by the state, and comparatively few cars were ever exported outside Italy. Although Astura production ended in 1939, the smaller-capacity Astura engine continued to be used beyond this time to power military vehicles. Despite being marketed as a sporting car, the Astura did not participate in many competitions during the 1930s, with the exception of some long-distance road races where the legendary Lancia roadholding was able to shine.

The Astura convertible sedan offered here was acquired by the vendor in Italy in 1995. The chassis number, 41-3313, is stamped into the cowl and shows it to be a fourth series Astura from 1938. As with all Asturas it is right-hand drive and, like many other examples of this model, the elegant coachwork is the work of Pinin Farina. At this time the Turin designer was being influenced by American coachwork design, partly because of the scale and 'V’ radiator of the Astura. The convertible sedan body style shows off the luxuriousness and quality of the Lancia chassis, whilst the body fixtures and details confirm the craftsmanship involved and help to explain Pinin Farina’s enviable reputation as a coachbuilder.

The vendor states that this Astura is reputed to have belonged personally to Mussolini, in contrast to the numerous Asturas that were owned and used by the Italian government. The car currently carries Milan licence plates MI 0F0874. The Pinin Farina coachwork is painted charcoal-grey with dark blue wings, the paintwork being in very good condition. The dark blue convertible top is in good condition, and white-wall tyres and full wheel discs are fitted. Additional features are the trafficators and twin front-mounted driving lamps. The interior is trimmed in medium-grey leather, with matching carpets, and is in good condition. A correct set of Veglia instruments is fitted to the dashboard, which itself has been replated, and the imposing steering wheel is original. Underneath the bonnet, the engine bay has been restored to a high standard with all fixtures, wiring, and linkages looking correct and of the period. A toolkit is mounted on the firewall.

With the enviable combination of its beautiful Pinin Farina coachwork and innovative Lancia engineering, this lovely Astura demonstrates the exceptional design and engineering capabilities of Italy’s pre-war car industry. With confirmation of the Mussolini history, it would also secure its place in the tumultuous recent history of that great country.

Reference Number 13193

as of 9/14/2007

Car 1938 Lancia Astura 3.0L Roadster
VIN 41-3313 
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