1961 Lancia Appia Berlina Series 3 rally ready classic For Sale
1961 Lancia Appia Berlina Series 3
Acropolis Rally Replica
Registration MAS 893
Current milometer reading: 28,285 (not warrantied)
‘Appia’, the name taken from the Roman road started in 312BC, the Via Appia or Appian Way that tracked south from Rome over 300 miles to Brindisi. Two thousand years later the project overseen by Gianni Lancia and the legendary Vittorio Jano would feature a compact V4 of just 10 degrees and 1089cc; creating the first Series Appia for Turin Motorshow in April 1953. The second series Appia arrived three years later and to confirm the endurance and reliability of the Series II, Italian journal ‘Quattroruote’ completed 100 circuits of the tough Mille Miglia course, nonstop! Equivalent to 97,200 fast miles (average of 43.6mph) with fuel consumption returning 33.2mpg. No major breakdowns occurred, and close examination post-test confirmed no major components required replacing. Geneva 1959 saw the 3rd and final series in the Appia story make its first public appearance in March, the factory produced around 55k examples of the Berlina type before the line was closed in April 1963.
The Appia screams Latin charm and those that live and breathe these joyous characters will concur the Series 3 version as the prime option overall. It retained the rigid pillarless body with suicide rear doors and featured the wonderful V4 with staggered cylinder layout; upgraded to 48bhp the 3rd incarnation could sit at 70mph all day and still return 30mpg. Superbly balanced the Appia outperformed most 1-litre cars of the period, offering confident cornering with minimal body roll, courtesy of their trusted sliding pillar front suspension (first featured on the Lambda in 1922); a package that secured sports car performance from a modest saloon. The Appia enjoyed great success mainly in the hands of privateers during the late 1950s and early 60s. In 59 international races, this 1.1 litre scored 4 overall victories, 19 class wins, 4 poles, and 12 podiums. Autocar road test of January 1961 concluded; ‘For those who require a four seater car of lively performance and excellent road manners, and to whom motoring means more than mere transportation, the Appia is a very desirable possession although a relatively expensive one in this country’.
Assembled in Lancia’s South African facility 7th November 1961 this RHD was registered to a lady in Durban who enjoyed the car for a decade before being sold locally where it was used as a daily driver until 1980. The Appia then went into storage before being purchased by Lancia aficionado and UK importer Christo Smal in 1992. Christo returned the car to regular use and brought it to the UK when he moved here in 2003 and he remained custodian until avid Lancia collector John Baker took over the reigns in 2018. A back injury meant the Appia would land in the hands of dealer Retro Marques where the current owner also a dedicated enthusiast purchased it with a specific plan in mind; explained here…
‘I purchased two years ago from the dealer Retro Marques of Worcs. - as a basic all together rust free Appia – but crucially RHD – making it already a pretty rare car on UK roads. However, being a budding classic car historian and rally competitor - I set about investigating possible rallying history of this model. Although the Appia was used extensively by privateers, the only international event I could locate was a Series 3 entered on the 1962 Acropolis Rally as number 75, finishing a credible 25th overall; I set about converting my Appia as a replica in homage of this entry. Italian driver Luigi Cabella was more often seen on the circuits of Europe with two victories, four class wins and 4 podiums from 31 starts. He teamed up with local co-driver George Kritikos in a rally dominated by large factory teams including Mercedes, Ford, SAAB and Porsche plus famous names the likes of Carlsson, Andersson and Pat Moss. 55 entries took on the heat, dust and gravel of the mountain paths around Athens at the end of May 62 with just 36 completing the course. The privately entered Appia was not only competitive but once again proved its durability.
Common sense dictated our first upgrade by removing the old bench seat (not ideal for performance driving) and replace with two Morris Minor front seats , they were then given to my trimmer (Upholstery Solutions Worthing) who did a brilliant job matching them to the rear. Any rally car must be fitted with some form of timing gear and although there are no known pics of the interior of the original 75 – it probably would have been fitted with a mechanical Halda or similar. We opted for a Brantz Rallymeter Int. Pro 2 which I have successfully used before on other International rallies, then we made up an aluminium base plate to take the Brantz plus a set of stop and clock watches, after which I added a dash mounted map reading light with vintage compass. My next thoughts turned to a rev counter, this conversion was prompted by another Appia owner who had replaced the right hand ashtray with the ignition switch using that location to site a Smiths tacho in a pod; this I duly copied. Then went further, by converting the left-hand ashtray to a 12-volt outlet for charging.
Attention turned to the floor panels and to this end we wire brushed the entire underside of the car then applied two coats of waxoyl, this was also injected into door and sill cavities. The car had been purchased with a carburettor conversion from the standard, improved with a DC36 Weber and air filter, this worked well but we considered it could be improved with an additional fuel pump – so we purchased a Facet electric pump to compliment the mechanical version and fed them in parallel. Rubber over mats were fitted on top of the original front rubber flooring (carpet to the rear) with a 2.5 litre fire extinguisher attached to the front tunnel.
An engine bay makeover became a priority and all components were removed then cleaned. Radiator was reconditioned; Lancia has a unique radiator drainage system & a pressurised heat blind, a new safety cap was also fitted. Engine covers were removed & repainted as original in factory crinkle black with all new ignition system plus two new coils fitted in parallel for immediate switching. A pair of vintage air horns were wired in and the Weber was removed & professionally cleaned, vapour blasted & re jetted with a new race air filter. The ‘75’ rally numbers were sourced and placed in the same position along with an original 1962 finishers medal; sourced at great cost from Germany along with a replica rally plaque. Alternator conversion plus vintage Italian Carello spot lamps purchased from the Netherlands with period reversing lamp fitted to the rear bumper. Five new tyres with thickened inner tubes were also acquired to reduce the opportunity of punctures.
Cars of this vintage, especially those with centre operating suicide doors were not fitted with seat belts and without a ‘B’ pillar there was no obvious place to locate. Initially, we opted for static belts taken from a fixing point behind the rear seat and ably fitted by the authority when it comes to vintage seat belts; Quick Fit of North London. However, these eventually became cumbersome but the genius of QF fitter Mark came up with a brilliant solution to fit a drop down belt from the underside of the roof to an inertia reel behind the front seat which works perfectly.
2019 saw us embark on a long-distance road trip to enjoy a weekend of racing at Angouleme in France, the Lancia drove faultlessly for 1400 miles with the Appia attracting endless attention. That trip taught us that the drum brakes were not at their best, so on our return the car went into the engineering shop of Valoroso in East Sussex who went through a comprehensive improvement of both brake and suspension systems. So, to conclude, what we have is a unique RHD 1961 Lancia Appia – built before the intervention of Fiat; truly rare sight on UK roads. A very active and supportive UK Lancia Club and with an Appia Consortium that can pretty much locate any spares you might need. I believe I have achieved what I set out to do & have enjoyed the project, so, why the sale? Twofold, I'm currently 78 and as such my rally days are sadly coming to an end, plus my knees are also pretty shot, so tinkering is becoming a chore rather than a pleasure’.
Most importantly, the images will confirm a rust-free example with clean sills and arches. The black finish is not perfect and carries a few small age blisters to the o/s front wing plus blemishes to the o/s rear quarter. The alloy bonnet shows a couple of chips to its front edge whilst the n/s offers more micro blisters on the upper edges which are only noticeable close up. The chrome is honest with minimal fade to both front and rear bumpers, original headlight rings and door handles have survived incredibly well. The exterior shape oozes character and that is enhanced by the sixties brightwork, especially the Carello spotlights. Five nicely finished steel wheels are wrapped in new period Blockley rubber and the original chrome hubcaps are included in the sale.
Delightful and perfectly presented the Appia interior is one location you could never loose enthusiasm for. The red trim matches perfectly across the cabin, seats, door cards and dash top, it is difficult to fault. Main features include bespoke seat belts designed and fitted by Quickfit Safety Services in Stanmore with both floor and roof mountings. Rubber flooring to the front with red carpets to the rear is not a concession to Rallying that is how this Appia would have left the factory. The roof lining is in superb condition, a mohair fabric finished in light brown whilst the door cards enjoy leatherette storage pockets and alloy door furniture. Rally requirements include fitted fire extinguisher, Brantz Pro timing gear with additional period stopwatches, map reading light and compass with easy to reach switch gear for wipers, spotlights, headlight flasher etc. The stylish original Lancia dials offer speedo plus a three in one unit that enjoys fuel, oil and water information in a way only the Italians can supply.
Please note: any and all of the rally inspired alterations made to this Appia were carried out to be totally reversible should a new custodian look to return the car to stock.
A chance to road test the Appia throws up some of its unique features, firstly the starting procedure which requires pushing on the key (like a button) once inserted ignition. Little choke is required as the V4 warms readily enough, first gear on this column is upwards and with the clutch pedal biting at just under half travel. The exhaust note could be described as ‘fruity’ but not loud as the engine offers plenty of torque, pulling from low revs although top (fourth) feels comfortable once 35mph is exceeded. Sliding pillar suspension is an old design but still works well, body roll is not excessive as the system is quite firm and contributes to good feedback through the steering. Comfortable with the ability to compete with modern traffic, what many look for in a classic car, but this never fails to draw the attention of pedestrians and other road users; most enjoying a double take of this rare little Italian.
This Appia comes with three large folders containing historic information on the model, the original owner’s manual plus a full workshop manual and every MOT since entering the UK in 2003: the mileage at that time showing 14,675. Invoices listing the many thousands of pounds outlay over the past two years with correspondence and advice offered by relevant engineering companies involved. The current owner has put together a small spares package plus several items of Appia memorabilia including an original 1962 Acropolis Rally finishers medal, this cars Lancia Certification (framed) plus a painting commissioned by the vendor. Finally, even a bespoke coffee table with this Lancia imprinted onto the wooden surface, perfect for the man cave. Another plus point of owning this unique car will be the certainty of entry to any bespoke rally, whether it be scenic or competitive, road based or historic, organisers will desire this rare Lancia to be part of their event.
For interested parties seeking further information we are also able to supply a comprehensive image and video file covering every angle and aspect of this Lancia. This will be supplied via 'we transfer' a safe file share/mailing system that costs nothing and does not require you to sign up etc .. you just download the file that comes via your email address. Messaging will come through to myself, I took the photographs and can supply any further information on behalf of the owner. His phone number is the one attached to this advert, should you wish to arrange a viewing and I am happy to assist with this also; obviously by pre-arranged appointment .. the car is based in West Sussex.
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