They built nine series, many dreamed of it, thousands drove it. Lancia Lambda was a legendary model for the history of the brand, a work that cleared the Italian company throughout the world by anticipating, perhaps for the first time, the name of the founder and its creator, Vincenzo Lancia. Already famous for his racing victories and for his technical and entrepreneurial ingenuity, Vincenzo showed his creation to the world in the autumn of 1922, in Paris and London, immediately obtaining good reviews. Production began in 1923 and ended in 1931.
The Lambda patent, however, dates back to 1919, with a revolutionary concept behind it: Lancia ‘discarded’ the conventional side member frame to meet a load-bearing member in deep-drawn sheet metal, with the car body acting like a single beam. In short, it was one of the first cars in the world a bearing structure, if not the world premiere. The driveshaft was inserted into a tunnel inside the passenger compartment, rather than under the floor. Lancia was inspired by the structure of the ships. The independent front suspension relied on telescopic struts with coil springs arranged concentrically to the struts. The brakes were drum brakes. The traction was placed on the rear wheels, with dry multi-plate clutch and 3-speed gearbox plus reverse. The engine initially proposed was a narrow V-shaped 4-cylinder engine designed by the engineers Cantarini and Rocco, with colleague Scacchi who took care of the fine-tuning.
The result was an ease of driving which was also suitable for racing (there were numerous Lambdas protagonists at the Mille Miglia) with a body rigidity superior to the competition of the time. The Lambda traveled on the bumpy roads of the time without having significant mechanical problems. The car cost 43,000 lire in 1923: today the basic version (the Torpedo) would be purchased for no less than 38,000 euros. After all, for the first time in the history of the automobile, the chassis was one with the bodywork, with half the weight and an equally incomparable style. And then, we must not forget that it was Vincenzo Lancia himself who took care of the most important tests.
(images: Lancia, Wheelsage, Wikimedia CC, RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams)