1928 Lancia Lambda

This Lancia Lambda is the oldest car we've ever featured on CICFS. We're attracted to cars that are groundbreaking and this is one machine that does not disappoint. The Lambda was not only the first car to feature a front independent suspension, but also pioneered the concept of a load bearing monocoque structure. Another noteworthy feature was the Lambda's V4 engine, which had a narrow angle between the cylinder banks served by a single overhead camshaft. Any one piece of technology on this car would have been heady stuff for its day but combined made this car a technical tour de force. Built between 1922 and 1931, a little over 11,000 Lambdas were produced. This Lambda for sale in California is a later model Series 8 that has a replica body shell.

1928 Lancia Lambda

1928 Lancia Lambda 8th Series
With Casaro Mille Miglia Style Coachwork
s/n 20908, Engine no. 10842
Dark Red with Brown Leather

Lancia has long held an enviable reputation as a manufacturer of exceptional automobiles, both in terms of design and performance. As a manufacturer Vincenzo Lancia brought a unique combination of skills and experiences to the table. Involved with the automobile from its earliest days, Vincenzo Lancia by turns was a mechanic, a designer, a manufacturer and a stunningly fast race car driver.

His company produced a family of some of the most advanced and successful automobile designs ever seen. Cars that succeeded not only in their daring innovations but also due to their quality construction and rigorous engineering standards. The models Alfa, Lambda, Aprilia and Aurelia are all seen as important points in the development of the automobile, but perhaps none more so than the Lambda.
The Lambda can be seen as the first truly modern car where performance, safety, reliability and advanced manufacturing were seen as a single system. Boasting the first unit construction chassis, a compact V-4 aluminum engine, independent front suspension and a large, comfortable cockpit, there were few cars that could match the Lambda; a car that combined the comfort of a luxury car and the performance of a sports car.

Vincenzo Lancia was considered to be the fastest driver in Italy during his ten year racing career with Fiat. While the company did enter competitions their purpose was more to demonstrate the soundness of Lancia’s designs than to win overall. The Lambda with its superlative handling and broad power band was quickly taken up by sporting customers and entered in numerous races and trials. The factory seldom entered cars under their own banner, but for 1937 and 1938 Mille Miglia teams of factory raced prepared Lambdas were entered.

In 1938 three new 8th Series 221 short wheel base chassis were prepared and entered in the Mille Miglia. With its separate frame construction, the three 8th Series cars were fitted with aluminum Carsaro bodies. After leading the event and within only 186 miles to the finish line Luigi Gismondi crashed handing the win to Alfa Romeo. The remaining two factory cars finished in 3rd and 9th place. None of the three original 1928 factory cars are known to still exist.

Originally commissioned from Donald Wright by Queens Counsel Lyton Morris, this car is built on a correct 8th Series 221 chassis, using original Lambda components throughout with the engine having been fitted with a 3 Litre “Wright” cylinder block. The replica Casaro aluminum body was built by Brian Hawke using projected images to produce accurate profiles of the original lines. It is considered to be one of the most accurate and correctly detailed examples produced. Well supported by Lancia clubs and specialty manufacturers worldwide, maintenance is not a problem.

Most cars of 1920’s feel distinctly old whereas a properly maintained Lambda, such as this car, feels like a “real” car, able to deal with modern traffic and not wear out its occupants on even the longest of drives. This example has proven its performance and reliability in the Mille Miglia and other tours along with daily use by the current owner. Handsome and elegant it is sure to find an appreciative audience wherever it goes. $398,500

A 1927 Series 7 Lambda roadster sold at Bonhams in 2011 for just over $202,000. That particular car was an untouched barn find in fairly rough condition. A few Series 8 Lambdas have also sold recently in the $80,000 to $140,000 range, but none of these had the coach built body. Vintage Lancias like these are never cheap, but they also attract a particular kind of buyer that is familiar with what is a rather obscure marque this side of the pond. The asking price of almost $400,000 seems a bit steep for today's classic car marketplace. If this car were to come up at auction, I'd suspect we might see $250,000 to about $275,000 exchange hands, but not a whole lot more.

Looking back on this Lambda makes me lament much of the current Lancia range, which consists mostly of rebadged Chryslers. While these cars might make money and spread out research and development costs for the company's parent, Fiat, it does nothing to honor the vision and ingenuity of Vincenzo Lancia.