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
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
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.