Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 163

1936 Lancia Astura Cabriolet Series III "Tipo Bocca" by Pinin Farina

  • Chassis no. 33-5313
  • Engine no. 91-1171

Sold for $2,145,000


Please note that this lot is titled as a 1937. Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

82 bhp, 2,972 cc narrow-angle V-8 engine with Zenith 30 DVI twin-choke carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, front suspension with self-lubricating sliding pillars, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 122 in.

  • Pinin Farina’s 1936 Milano Motor Show car; winner of the R.A.C.I. President’s Cup
  • Displayed at the inaugural Concorso d’Eleganza, San Remo, May 1937
  • Believed to be the first of three or fewer PF cabriolets built on the short-wheelbase Corto chassis
  • Unique coachwork designed by Mario Revelli di Beaumont for Pinin Farina
  • Immaculate concours restoration


TORRE ASTURA

The Astura is the pinnacle of pre-war Lancias, placing it at the summit of pre-war Italian automotive engineering and design. Its combination of luxury and engineering refinement made it an ideal platform for coachbuilders, particularly in its more sporting Corto, or short-wheelbase version.

Introduced in November 1931 as a replacement for Lancia’s flagship Dilambda, the new model represented a generational shift. Where the older model featured a 3,960-cubic centimeter engine moving 2,010 kilograms, the new car would retain the same length but would be lighter and more efficient – its new, reduced displacement engine nonetheless giving it a better power-to-weight ratio than the earlier car. Reflecting a new Italian nationalism, Lancia broke their precedent of assigning their cars the letters of the Greek alphabet and instead named the new model Astura, after an ancient island castle south of Rome.

Although Lancia had pioneered monocoque construction in their 1922 Lambda, the Astura was destined for carrozzerie and was given a cross-braced box-section platform to allow wider design latitude. The model was initially offered in a single 125-inch wheelbase as the Tipo 230, but for the 3rd Series, two versions were offered. Nine hundred and eight were built as Lungo, with a wheelbase of 131 inches as the Tipo 233L, while 328 were constructed to Corto specification on a wheelbase of 122 inches as Tipo 233C. Notwithstanding its more conventional construction, like its predecessors the chassis had excellent torsional stiffness, which contributed to its feeling of solidity and refinement. The front suspension retained Lancia’s sliding-pillar independent suspension, while the live rear axle was controlled by friction dampers that could be adjusted to suit with dashboard-mounted controls. A Bijur central lubrication system was provided. The 3rd Series also received a Dewandre brake servo and a 78-liter fuel tank. An option for late cars was a hydraulic braking system, built by Marelli under license from Lockheed.

As with the Dilambda that preceded it, the Astura was given a narrow-angle V-8 engine. Initially at 19-degrees with a displacement of 2,604 cubic centimeters and producing 73 brake horsepower at 4,000 rpm, by the introduction of the 3rd Series in 1933, it had grown to 2,972 cubic centimeters at an angle of 17-degrees 30-minutes, in which form it produced 82 brake horsepower at 4,000 rpm. The narrow-angle architecture made for a compact unit – narrower than a conventional V-8 and shorter than an inline – with a single cylinder head. The head itself was unusual in having a cast iron lower section and an aluminum upper section. In between is the camshaft driven by a triplex chain with tensioner. The engine also featured an Autokleen oil filter, a unit that rotated a cleaning cylinder every time the engine was started. Although the engine was inherently quite smooth, it was set into the chassis on four rubber isolators.

Fitted with a factory berlina body, the 3rd Series Astura weighed 1,500 kilograms, while the bare coachbuilders’ platform came in at 960 kilograms. To ensure that the car delivered the performance its well-heeled buyers expected, Lancia recommended that coachbuilders limit bodywork weight to no more than 460 kilograms.

Although not primarily a competition car, the 3rd Series Asturas did achieve some success in that realm. In 1934, a Castagna-bodied Astura was driven to 10th place in the Mille Miglia by Mario Nardilli and Carlo Pintacuda. Later that year the same pair won the Giro d’Italia, a six-day, 3,534-mile circuit around Italy, finishing the grueling event in 65 hours, 57 minutes, and 6 seconds at an average of 53.58 mph – a testament to the reliability and roadhandling of the model. Further reinforcing the car’s capability, another Astura driven by Giuseppe Farina and E. Oneto finished third.

CHASSIS NUMBER 33-5313: LA BELLA MACHINA

The present car, Tipo 233C chassis number 33-5313, is one of 328 Corto versions produced on the short-wheelbase 122-inch platform. Fitted with engine number 91-1171, it was delivered as a bare chassis to Pinin Farina in the summer of 1936 and clothed in a body designed by Mario Revelli di Beaumont, who took full advantage of the narrow-angle V-8 to create a rakish yet restrained cabriolet design, dubbed the Tipo Bocca. It was commissioned a Lancia dealer in Biella who ultimately ordered a total of six Bocca cabriolets in both corto and lungo chassis.

The aerodynamic profile features a sloping, rounded grille, whose horizontal bars are interrupted by a dramatic “waterfall” of chrome strakes running from the slim, elegant bumper to the base of a vee’d windshield. The peaked front fenders are separated from the body by rounded fairings that feature individually integrated headlights and driving lights, while the rear fender spats also contribute to the clean, smooth lines. The open car’s streamlined horizontal emphasis is reinforced by a chrome strake running the entire length of the body as well as horizontal engine compartment vents, features that are accentuated when the halves of the split windshield are folded flat. Gently curving body sides feature an early use of curved side windows. Highlighting the car’s restrained elegance was its subtle, pale grey paint with blue upholstery and power-actuated convertible top, the latter a great novelty for 1936.

The newly completed cabriolet was displayed on the Pinin Farina stand at the 1936 Salone del l’Automobile, Milano, where it received the President’s Cup from the Registro Ancetre Club Italia. Following the show, chassis number 33-5313 was acquired by Ghiara & C., Lancia’s main agent in Genoa. Ghiara sold the car to Cav. Piero Sanguineti, a local industrialist, for about 75,000 Lire (the equivalent of about $4,200 at the time). In May 1937, Sanguineti showed the car in the inaugural Concorso d’Eleganza per Automobili, San Remo, where it received a class award.

The car was subsequently purchased by Emil Uebel, Lancia’s German distributor, who apparently kept it in his main facility in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Wartime records no longer exist, offering no explanation of whether Uebel sold the car or retained it for himself, or how and where the car survived the conflict. But survive, it certainly did, and in early 1947 it was acquired by American collector Barney Pollard, as part of a package deal with two steam locomotives. Pollard shipped number 33-5313 to the United States and kept the car until 1980, when it was sold to Armand Giglio, former President of the American Lancia Club. Giglio held the car a further two decades, selling it in 2004 to an owner in Connecticut. Other than an older repaint, the car was in largely original condition, but with some deterioration of the body’s wood framing. The new owner undertook restoration of the wood framing, as well as some body preparation work.

In this state the car was sold in late 2011 to Orin Smith, who commissioned Vantage Motorworks of Miami to complete the restoration to international concours standards. The finished car easily achieved Best in Class at the Classic Sports Sunday at Mar-a-Lago, and People’s Choice here at Amelia Island, both in 2013. The Lancia subsequently journeyed back to Italy, where it was judged Most Sympathetic Restoration at the 2014 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, in the company of a thrilled Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

More recently the car was exhibited at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, as part of their “Rolling Sculpture” exhibit of advanced streamlined design. Notably, a sister car to this lovely Astura, in long-wheelbase form was awarded Best of Show at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, cementing its importance to design and elegance for the era.

This Lancia Astura ‘Corto’ cabriolet perfectly epitomizes Pinin Farina’s design of the pre-war period – restrained elegance with simple but precise details. As such, it represents an opportunity to acquire one of the most important and beautiful examples of Italian engineering and coachbuilding – a show car par excellence, now as then.

Addendum

Please note that the Elegance at Hershey has kindly extended an invitation for this car to attend their event on June 9-11, 2017. Please refer to an RM Sotheby's representative for additional information.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more