Lancia Aurelia B20 GT (1951)
Lancia Aurelia B20 GT
he Lancia Aurelia is considered by many to be the first true Gran Turismo automobile. Designed by Vittorio Jano, the Aurelia was launched in 1950 and production lasted through the summer of 1958.
The Aurelia used the first production V6 engine, a 60° design developed by de Virgilio, a Lancia engineer who worked under Jano which grew from 1.8 L to 2.5 L. It was an all-alloy pushrod design with a single camshaft between the cylinder banks. A hemispherical combustion chamber and inline valves were used. A single Weber 40 carburettor completed the engine.
At the rear was an innovative combination transaxle with the gearbox, clutch, differential, and inboard-mounted drum brakes. The front suspension was a sliding pillar design, with rear semi-trailing arms replaced by a de Dion tube in the Fourth series.
The very first Aurelias were the B10 berlinas (sedans). They used a 1754 cc version of the V6 which produced 56 hp. The B21 was released in 1951 with a larger 1991 cc 70 hp engine. A 2-door B20 GT coupé appeared that same year. It had a shorter wheelbase and a Ghia-designed, Pininfarina-built body. The same 1991 cc engine produced 75 hp in the B20. In all, 500 first series Aurelias were produced.
The second series Aurelia coupe pushed power up to 80 hp from the 1991 cc V6 with a higher compression ratio and repositioned valves. Other changes included better brakes and minor styling tweaks, such as chromed bumpers instead of the aluminium ones used in the earlier car. . A new dashboard featured two larger instrument gauges. The suspension was unchanged from the first series. A new B22 sedan was released in 1952 with dual Webers and a hotter camshaft for 90 hp.
The third series appeared in 1953 with a larger 2451 cc version of the engine. The rear of the car lost the tailfins of the earlier series, but was well resolved in a definitive look for the Aurelia coupe.
The fourth series introduced the new de Dion tube rear suspension. The engine was changed from white metal bearings to shell bearings. An open car, the B24 Spider was introduced at this time (1954 to 1955) and was well received. It was similar to the B20 coupé mechanically, with an 8 inch shorter wheelbase than the coupé.
The fourth series cars were the first Aurelias to be available in left-hand drive; fourth series Aurelias were the first ones to be imported to the US in any number.
The fifth series coupé, appearing in 1956, was more luxury-oriented. It had a different transaxle (split case), which was more robust and similar to that used in the later Flaminias. The driveshaft was also revised to reduce vibration.
Alongside the fifth series coupés was a revised open car, the B24 convertible. This differed from the earlier B24 Spider, having roll-up windows, better seating position, and a windscreen with vent windows. In mechanical aspects, the B24 convertible was similar to the coupe of the same series.
Power was down to 112 hp for the 1957 sixth series, with increased torque to offset the greater weight of the later car. The sixth series coupés had vent windows, and typically a chrome strip down the hood. They were the most touring oriented of the B20's.
The sixth series B24 convertible was very similar to the fifth series, with some minor differences in trim. Most notably, the fuel tank was in the trunk, not behind the seats as it was in the fourth and fifth series open cars. This change, however, did not apply for the first 150 sixth series cars, which were like the fifth series. The sixth series convertibles also featured different seats than either both earlier cars.
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