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Collectors Corner - Lancia B20 GT - The classic Gran Turismo Coupe


Lancia Aurelia B20 GT S2 Mille Miglia 1953 #507 - Richter / Nicolai, rtd

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT S2 Mille Miglia 1953 #507 - Richter / Nicolai, rtd

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S1

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3 s/n 2533

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3 s/n 2533

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3 s/n 2533

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3 s/n 2533

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S3

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S4 s/n B20 363

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S4 s/n B20 363

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S4 s/n B20 363

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S4 s/n B20 363

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S4 s/n B20 363

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Coupé S4 s/n B20 363

Lancia Aurelia B20 S GT S6 s/n B20S*1674*

Lancia Aurelia B20 S GT S6 s/n B20S*1674*

Lancia Aurelia B20 S GT S6 s/n B20S*1674*

Lancia Aurelia B20 S GT S6 s/n B20S*1674*

 

The history of the B20 coupes have been well documented and will be briefly summarized here.

There were a total of 3871 made from 1951 to 1958, averaging about 500 a year in production. While the factory did not label them as different series, their limited documentation (Owners Manuals, for example) does identify six different groups of B20’s by serial number.

Production numbers
In 1951 371 1991cc models were manufactuered, 736 in 1952 and 124 in 1953, in the same year 720 2451cc models, in 1954 573, in 1955 426, in 1956 189, in 1957 420 and in the last year of the production 312, totaling 2640.

So within the Lancia community, B20’s have become classified as being developed in 6 different series. Initially, there seems no easy way to lay out the differences – but with familiarity, they begin to make sense. As with all Lancia things, if you place yourself in the shoes of their maker, things are a lot clearer.

First, the commonalities:

The two-door coupe was designed by Boano from Ghia. Gianpaolo Boano was the son of Ghia owner Mario Felice Boano. The Production was handled by Pinin Farina. All the B20’s  are about the same size, with almost the same wheelbase and chassis. There are some modest dimensional differences, but in general, the cars are essentially the same (front V-6 engine, rear transaxle, two door coupe of fastback design, etc). They differ in evolution and in subtlety.


The major changes can be seen in four areas:

- engine size and power: Series 1 and 2 have the 2 liter motor  (1991 cc SI 75 bhp,  SII 80bhp)  derived from the early sedans. The later cars have (series 3-6) get a 2.5 liter motor of 110-118 hp. The exact details of these motors (horsepower, cams, carburetion, compression) change almost for each series as Lancia continues to refine the motors.

- rear suspension and transmission: all the cars have transaxles. The series 1st - 4th series cars have the same transaxle design (smaller, with indirect final drive, similar to the sedans). In the 5th and 6th series  cars, Lancia changes the transmission from the smaller transaxle to a larger, more robust transmission. This transmission is used with only minor changes in the early Flaminias, introduced in 1957. The other major change is that Lancia uses an IRS with coil springs in the earlier cars (series 1-3) and changes to a deDion rear suspension in the later cars (series 5-6)

- aesthetic development: the earlier B20’s are a bit more handmade and the aesthetics are a bit less resolved. The 3rd and 4th series are perhaps the most resolved, and the 5th and 6th the most refined.

Some major differences are:

1st (only 500 were produced) and 2nd series cars  have sloped headlights like the sedans, and tail fins. Later cars have a more refined and smooth rear design, with  larger rear windows.

1st series cars have grilles with a hole for a starting crank, and aluminum bumpers with rubber strips. The bumpers were then changed for chromed steel.

the early cars (1-3rd series) have the heavier rolled rims for wheels. All have the same size tires.

1st series car has instruments from the Berlina. The 2nd to the middle of the 4th series has grey plastic instruments, with counter-rotating rev counter. The remainder of the 4th series have lovely white on black Jaeger instruments, common to Ferraris, the 5th and 6th have Jaeger instruments similar to Flaminias.

the dashboard for the early cars (up to the change of instruments in 4th series) is curiously about 30mm further forward in the car than in the later cars with a changed dashboard.

1st through 3rd series have a large aluminum floor panel in the trunk for lightness, deleted in the later cars.

From the 3rd series 720 examples were produced

LHD is only available from the 4th series on.

4th series cars have tinted windows, uniquely so.

5th and 6th series cars came standard with Nardi wooden wheels. The floor change was more readily available in the later cars. It seems to have begun with the 2nd series.

6th series cars have vent windows, and taller interior space. Typically the 6th series cars have a chrome strip down the bonnet, and different hub cabs and wheel covers. Their dashboards are painted in with two-tone color schemes, and feature a chrome trim strip.

- weight:  B20’s are known in the 1950’s as the connoisseur’s car, with refined performance and handling. By the end of their production run, detailing is done to exemplary standards, and refinement is as high as any car in Europe. But by then, the weight is also increased. The earlier cars are lighter and simpler, though still mechanically refined. The early cars (s. 1-2) typically have aluminum trim, the later ones have chromed brass. Overall, one may be looking at about 600 lb weight gain from a 1st  or 2nd series car to a 6th series car.

The difference in character is significant. The later 5th and 6th series cars are wonderful sophisticated grande tourers. Experience with the early cars is much more lively, akin to a Guilietta Sprint with 6 cylinder motor. The 3rd and 4th series cars are seen by some to be the best of both worlds, with the larger motor, but only moderate weight gains. Through careful manipulation of gearing ratios, Lancia does a very good job of providing a similar feel under acceleration throughout the B20 range.

The rationale for all the changes in B20’s is Lancia’s continued commitment to excellence and to refinement. Interestingly enough, Lancia had two different notions of refinement, and they play themselves out continuously through Lancia history. One notion, typically found in the original production model, is refinement of an idea -  accomplished through engineering and design. This gave light weight, good spatial utilization and nimble performance. Their lead designers continually aim for this ideal after the Lambda breakthrough in the 1920’s.

The second approach is refinement through development: in addition to solving all the mechanical issues that come up in a car’s production, this tended also included answering the marketplace’s demands for more comfort. Thus Lancia added weight to all their cars during production development, and often increased engine sizes to maintain the original performance standards. Both of these trends can be seen in almost any Lancia model’s history.


Thanks to Geoff Goldberg for much of this information. Additional can be found at the following site www.lanciainfo.com

Mercato

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