15.08.2011 "BARN FIND" LANCIA LAMBDA ROARS STRAIGHT BACK TO LIFE AFTER HALF CENTURY LAY UP

LANCIA LAMBDA SERIES 8 - BODY BY MAYTHORNE & SON, BIGGLESWADE, UK
LANCIA LAMBDA SERIES 8 - BODY BY MAYTHORNE & SON, BIGGLESWADE, UK
LANCIA LAMBDA SERIES 8 - BODY BY MAYTHORNE & SON, BIGGLESWADE, UK
LANCIA LAMBDA SERIES 8 - BODY BY MAYTHORNE & SON, BIGGLESWADE, UK
LANCIA LAMBDA SERIES 8 - BODY BY MAYTHORNE & SON, BIGGLESWADE, UK
LANCIA LAMBDA SERIES 8 - BODY BY MAYTHORNE & SON, BIGGLESWADE, UK
LANCIA LAMBDA SERIES 8 - BODY BY MAYTHORNE & SON, BIGGLESWADE, UK

A late example of the Lambda, this 'barn find' car offers a Lancia enthusiast an opportunity to acquire a car that represents the very best foundation for a restoration project. Complete, with good documentation, it has a fantastic ownership history stretching back nearly eighty years. Photos: Byron International.

When classic car broker, Philip Jones was asked to visit a family to look at a "couple of Lagondas", he didn't know he was going to uncover one of the most dramatic "barn finds" of his life, topped off by a Lancia Lambda. In the yard of a family-owned business in Hertfordshire, there were some trailer containers; one after the other, they revealed an Aladdin's cave of automotive treasure.

 

The story began with the Grandfather of the current generation who, impressed by his 1923 Lancia Lambda with a Torpedo body, replaced it in the early 1930s with a another Lambda - a Series 8 with a fabric body by Maythorne & Son of Biggleswade. Laid up during World War II, the car was re-commissioned in 1946 and was in daily use until 1956, when it was put into store. It was still there when Philip clambered up the ladder steps into the trailer - with the 1956 tax disc still on the screen.

 

"I thought I had come to see a couple of Lagondas," Philip said to the owners. It was off up another ladder into another trailer and there was the Lambda's replacement as Grandfather's family car - a 1951 Lagonda 2.6. Sadly, Grandfather passed away in 1965 and his Lagonda found its way into storage in the early 1970s, when the current owners' father made his own choice of car - a 1963 Lagonda Rapide. "In nearly 40 years in the motor trade, I thought I had seen it all," said Philip, "But the three cars, which could only be described as barn finds, mark a family's motoring over three generations. It's fantastic!"

 

At Philip's request, the family retrieved all three cars from their trailers. Temporary fuel lines were set up, oil levels checked, tyres pumped and fingers crossed, before fuel pumps were primed and engines turned. All three ran and now represent three wonderful restoration opportunities for enthusiasts.

Introduced at the 1922 Paris Salon, the Lancia Lambda was an exceptionally advanced design. Supposedly inspired by contemporary ship-building practice, its highly innovative monocoque (or chassis-less) bodyshell was reinforced via a substantial transmission tunnel and integral seatback bulkheads. While other noteworthy features included independent 'sliding pillar' front suspension (complete with hydraulic shock absorbers) and four-wheel drum brakes. Powered by a series of compact V4 SOHC engines (2119cc 49hp, 2370cc 59hp and 2568cc 69hp) allied to manual transmission, even the earliest Lambdas were reckoned to be good for 70mph.

Although not marketed as a sports car, the model's excellent roadholding saw a modified version finish 4th overall on the inaugural 1927 Mille Miglia (a class-winning performance which was repeated the following year).

Evolving through Nine Series, the Lambda remained in production until 1931 by which time some 13,000 had been made - though, survivors are increasingly scarce.

A late example of the Lambda, this 'barn find' car offers a Lancia enthusiast an opportunity to acquire a car that represents the very best foundation for a restoration project. Complete, with good documentation, it has a fantastic ownership history stretching back nearly eighty years.

This Lancia is the earliest of the cars, bought by the Grandfather of the current owners in around 1934, it replaced his first Lancia, a 1923 Lambda with a Torpedo body. In fact he retained the handbook for the original car that is offered with this car. Grandfather was an engineer by training, although his speciality was knitting machinery but the skills he had acquired were transferable to car maintenance as well as being passed on to following generations.

This fabric covered body shows his skills in its maintenance which included relining the cylinders adapting parts to the particularly long stroke of the engine by buying 5 later Lancia cylinder liners and fitting four complete liners supplemented by the fifth cut to appropriate section lengths. The car was taken off the road for the duration of the war and it came back into use in 1946 and was in regular use until 1956 when it was taken off the road and put into storage the 1956 tax disc is still on the windscreen of the car. Only recently removed from its storage, the engine was checked, primed with petrol and runs like a dream.

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