Believed second Lancia built and oldest surviving
1908/9 LANCIA ALPHA FOUR SEATER TOURER
COACHWORK BY MILLER BROS. OF AMESBURY, MASSACHUSETTS
Chassis No. 102
Engine No. 99
Dark red with black leather interior
Engine: four cylinder, side valve, 2,543cc, magneto ignition; Gearbox: four speed & reverse with right hand quadrant change; Suspension: semi-elliptic springs front and three-quarter elliptics rear; Brakes: rear wheel from right hand lever, foot pedal operated transmission brake, beaded-edge tires. Right hand drive.
Vincenzo Lancia was born in 1881 and his first job was as a bookkeeper to Giovanni Ceirano's bicycle import business in Turin. When Fiat took over Ceirano in 1899, Lancia became head inspector. A year later he started an eight year racing career with Fiat. In November 1906, he set up as a manufacturer, forming Lancia & Cie, Fabbrica Automobili. By 1908 he started to produce cars and the first model was called an Alpha. The most famous car produced prior to the Second World War was undoubtedly the Lambda series which was manufactured throughout the 1920s. It was a highly innovative car for its day, with its single-overhead cam V4 engine, vertical coil independent front suspension, unitary contruction of the chassis and four wheel brakes. The car not only broke new ground in design but had excellent road holding capabilities and fine performance.
The Alpha was a straight-forward four cylinder car with a capacity of 2,543cc, side valves and an L-head, that produced 53bhp at 1,800rpm. It had a four speed gearbox and shaft drive, and was good for about 56mph. Large, stately and not particularly sporting, its appeal was quality and dependability, when the latter commodity was in very short supply.
This car was sent to America in chassis form and fitted with open tourer coachwork by Miller Bros. of Amesbury, Massachusetts.
The coachwork is all original and although having benefitted from an older restoration, this example is now in need of further paintwork and cosmetic restoration. The black leather upholstery again is older and will require attention. The wooden structure is sound.