Chassis No. 38-5855
Body No. 4674
Engine No. 6500
Registration No. EPB 209 (UK)
+44 (0)1869 244 255
On the front cover of the sales brochure produced for Lancia UK it boldly states that the Lancia Aprilia is “The highest performer of its class in the world.” In 1937, when the model was introduced, it would certainly have been difficult for trading standards to have disputed this point, had such a thing existed in those days.
The Lancia Aprilia was the last model designed by the company’s founder, the highly talented racing driver and engineer, Vincenzo Lancia. A modern and stylish family saloon, the Aprilia model’s greatest claim to technological fame was perhaps that it is the first production car to have been designed with the aid of wind tunnel technology. This resulted in the saloon have a drag co-efficient of 0.47. If you are now scratching your head and wondering if you should know what this really means, fear not, it simply means that, powered by a perky little 1352 cc, V4 motor, the beautifully proportioned family saloon was able to claim a top speed of over 80 mph and a comfortable “vibration free” cruising speed of around 70mph.
The merits of unitary body construction and independent suspension had been discovered by the Lanchester brothers in England at the very dawn of the motorcar/horseless carriage and the unitary body construction technique had been employed to great effect by Vincenzo Lancia on his preceding Lambda and Augusta models. Both the Lambda and Augusta had featured independent suspension at the front of the car only whereas the Aprilia benefitted from all-round independent suspension, bestowing it with a level of road-holding not yet seen before on a standard production car. As well as the performance and road holding the Aprilia boasted hydraulic brakes all-round and a four-speed synchromesh gearbox. If any criticism can be thrown at the model, it would be that it is almost too good for a pre-war car! Indeed, it is probably fair to say that British manufacturers did not come up with such a ground-breaking small family car design until the brilliant British/Greek designer, Alec Issigonis, penned the design for the Mini during the late 1950s.
Chassis no. 38 5855 was supplied new to Lancia UK at Alperton, near Wembley and registered EPB 209. The ownership trail dates back to 1957 where the original continuation buff log-book contained within the history file supplied with ‘EPB 209’ shows the owners between 1957 and 1969. It is thought that ‘EPB 209’ was taken off the road at around this time and transferred into the ownership of Richard Thompson of Exeter, who covered the car up in dry storage.
In 1988 the Lancia was purchased “by accident’ from Thompson by Nick Savage of Middlesex. This was good news for ‘EPB 209’ because, despite being in understandable need of restoration, the Aprilia was now in the hands of a consummate Italian car enthusiast and all-round top chap. Contained in the history file is a detailed account of the restoration commissioned by Mr. Savage between 1999 and 2012, with various hiccups along the way. Nick’s tenacity in seeing the project through, with certainly no financial gain, should be commended and it is testament to his genuine enthusiasm for motoring in Italian classics that ‘EPB 209’ was lavished with so much care and attention.
The actual body shell of the Aprilia was in remarkably good condition, hence why it was felt the car should be saved. The project was dismantled by Andrew Thorogood and the body restoration and paint completed in 1995. Meanwhile Serdi Engineering of Uxbridge started the engine rebuild, during which time their engine specialist sadly suffered from a heart attack and the project stalled for a while. The engine was then taken to Dave Bruzas near Guildford, a former Louts F1 engineer who rebuilt the engine, replacing the original troublesome connecting rods with stronger type rods from a Fulvia, in turn raising the compression ratio.
With a period of inactivity, the project stalled and so Jim Stokes Workshops (JSW) were commissioned to finish the project properly. Although, perhaps best known internationally for their significant work with six and eight-cylinder Alfa Romeos and 1950s Ferraris, JSW are also internationally renowned Lancia specialists who have been instrumental in the D50 recreation projects and D2 Sports Racing cars. With some £60,000 spent at JSW, the Aprilia was finally finished to a very high standard and Nick Savage enjoyed the use of the car on numerous trips to local Lancia Club events, European Lancia meetings and pilgrimages to the Le Mans Classic. Furthermore, it was regularly used for daily transport in and around London and according to Nick “it never let him down” on either local or oversees jaunts.
From Nick Savage the car passed to Frank St. George of Norwich who had various maintenance carried out by Norfolk based Lancia specialists, Omicron before passing into the current owner hands. The current owner has enjoyed many trouble free miles in the car with various minor maintenance works carried out recently by Graham Millard. The only cosmetic change to the car has been changing the wheel rims from green to cream.
Sold only to make way for the current owner’s burgeoning mid-life crisis, this superb British delivered Lancia Aprilia has been restored by Italian marque specialists for an Italian marque enthusiast. It has covered many trouble free and comfortable miles, just as its original designer intended. Supplied with an impressive file of invoices for the extensive works carried out, ‘EPB 209’ is equally as suitable for daily use as it is for top flight events such as the Mille Miglia. Viewing is welcome by appointment.