1938 LANCIA ASTURA SERIES FOUR LIMOUSINE
Chassis No. 413011
Engine No. 41110
Silver and black with black leather chauffeur's compartment and red cloth passenger's compartment
Engine: V8, single overhead camshaft, 2,972cc, 82bhp at 4,000rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: front independent sliding pillars, rear, semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
Vincenzo Lancia was a native of Turin, Italy, the son of a successful food manufacturer. The Lancia family owned and lived in a town house in Turin whose first floor had been rented to Giovanni Cierano, who with a partner, had been building racing cars at the turn of the century. This happy bit of kismet gave the young Vincenzo his first exposure to motors and motor cars and set his course for life. After briefly attending technical college, Vincenzo returned to Cierano's workshop where he met and worked with a number of pioneer race drivers and engineers including the great Felice Nazzaro. After spending an apprenticeship in Cierano's workshop, he followed his mentor to Fiat where he worked his way into the job of chief inspector. He soon became Fiat's chief tester and later joined his friend Nazzaro as one of the company's racing drivers.
After a short and meteoric career racing for Fiat, Lancia was a flat-out, all-or-nothing driver who would either win, break the car or crash. Eventually, he struck out on his own in 1906 as an auto manufacturer. An innovative and trained engineer rather than an intuitive artist/engineer like Bugatti, Lancia pioneered a number of industry firsts including unit body construction, ten years before it was applied to mass-produced cars, as well as a narrow-angle V4 engine.
Lancias have always enjoyed a reputation for building cars of the best quality materials with superb fit and finish - something Vincenzo was totally uncompromising about - and combining excellent handling and braking with sprightly performance and individualistic style.
The Lancia Astura limousine proudly offered here provides a handsomely original car of limited production with a most interesting provenance. It is reported as leaving the factory on September 28, 1938 for a sum of 74,880 lire to an unknown individual. Later, during the years of World War II, the Astura appeared in Ethiopia as property of an Italian general. As battles ensued, it became property of the British. At the end of hostilities, the Astura became property of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Halie Selassie. Specifically how often the Astura was used by the Emperor is unknown. In the late 1950s or early 1960s, an American GI by the name of Gary Showers (who was posted to Ethiopia) purchased the Astura from an Army friend who had been fortunate enough to acquire it from the royal garage. Mr. Showers then shipped the car to Ohio where it received a sympathetic restoration. Having been repainted handsomely in two-tone silver and black and re-trimmed in the chauffeur's compartment with black leather, with regal red velour in the passenger's compartment, this Lancia does retain the majority of its other original components.
The current owner, a recognized Lancia aficionado, acquired the Astura some years ago but it has only been lightly used in recent times. Routinely maintained, this is a rare opportunity to acquire an interesting Lancia four door limousine which comes with an intriguing story. Of the 426 Lancia Astura's built, this is surely one of the most appealing to come to market.