16 August 1998
1934 LANCIA AUGUSTA FOUR DOOR SEDAN
Chassis No. 31-11365
Engine No. 12675
Hunter green with biscuit cloth interior
Engine: narrow-angle V4, 1196cc., 35bhp at 4,000rpm; Gearbox: 4-speed manual with freewheeling; 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 propinquity gave the young Vincenzo his first exposure to motors and motorcars and set his course for life. After briefly attending technical college, Vincenzo retuned 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-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, and a narrow angle V4 engine.
Lancia's have always enjoyed a reputation for building cars of the best quality materials with superb fit and finish - something Vincenzo was totally uncompromising about - combining excellent handling and braking with, sprightly performance and individualistic style.
The Augusta was produced for little more than a year and was Lancia's bid to build a superior small car of the time. At some point this car was garaged in Switzerland as it is equipped with Swiss Scintilla traffic indicators. Later the car came to the U.S. where it joined the well-known Otto Zipper collection. It is said Zipper found it on a used car lot in Pasadena. For a time, it was on display at the Briggs Cunningham Museum in Costa Mesa. Dr. Richard Riddell purchased it from the Zipper estate in the early 1970s. As an interesting footnote, it has been said that Augustas were the cars of choice for both Tazio Nuvolari and Rene Dreyfus despite the fact that at the time they were members of the Alfa-Romeo factory racing team had been given their own cars by Alfa!
It is equipped with a splendid early Italian Weber carburettor and Bosch ignition. Dual spare tires continue the continental styling theme at the back of the car. It is said to run quite well and appears to be in good all-around condition, ready to tour or be taken on Lancia club events.
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