1933 Lancia Astura Torpedo Grand Sport
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The Lancia Astura is a car produced by the Turin-based company from 1931 to 1939. In Lancia, at the beginning of the thirties, the most recent model is represented by the large Dilambda (released in 1929) while the Lambda seems to have completed its ten-year cycle and must therefore be replaced. The Dilambda was an 8-cylinder V with 4 liters of displacement, while the Lambda, which originally had a 2.1-liter engine, in the last series exceeds the threshold of 2 and a half liters. Without prejudice to the major role of the Dilambda, it is therefore thought to replace the Lambda with two models, very similar to each other even if intended for different customers: on the one hand, the Artena, a 4-cylinder with less than 2 liters of displacement, from the another is the Astura, with a V8 of only 2.6 liters. Basically, the two new Lancia creations are distinguished by the engine, but the wheelbase dimensions are also different (299 cm the little Artena, 19 cm more - in order to accommodate the more bulky 8-cylinder engine - the big sister). For Astura (no longer a Greek name, therefore, but that of a historic castle located near the Roman city of Nettuno) an 8-cylinder V engine (opening 19°) was studied, which is essentially a " Dilambda" engine simplified and reduced in displacement, which here is only 2606 cc and reaches a maximum power of 72 HP at 4000 rpm. Apart from the cast iron cylinder block, the triple distribution chain and the self-cleaning oil filter, the most salient feature of the engine is given by the cylinder head, which has a very particular shape, in two pieces, with a lower part (in cast iron) containing the valves and an upper part (in aluminum) with the rocker arms and the relative shaft (the central camshaft rotates between the two heads). The (water) engine cooling system is also that of the Artena, with thermostatic control of the throttling action. The centralized lubrication system is also adopted in the Astura. Having abandoned the load-bearing body typical of the Lambda, the Astura (like its smaller sister Artena) has a frame in which the basic structure consists of two vertical boxed sections, an "X" -shaped reinforcement, and side members slightly converging at the front: two longitudinal round tubes, which branch off from a reinforcement crosspiece, are then integrated with the ends of the side members. Mixed suspension system adopted: at the front we find the classic Lancia scheme (although this time without the oblique reinforcements, which on the Lambda connected the radiator frame with the suspension cylinders, no longer necessary due to the greater rigidity achieved), while at the at the rear there is a normal rigid axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and friction shock absorbers (Siata). Feeded by a double-barrel Zenith carburetor, the Astura has a remarkable drive thanks to the good weight/power ratio due to the weight of the frame, which is contained within the ton (960 kg): even the sedan version weighs just 1,250 kilograms. The maximum speed is around 125 km per hour. Produced with a sedan body (with 4 lights and 4-5 seats or with 6 lights and 6-7 seats) made by the house itself, the Astura will however be the queen of the custom-built cars of those years: almost all the Italian coachbuilders and many foreigner coachbuilders will produce special editions. Among the best known names: Bertone, Boneschi, Borsani, Brianza, Castagna, Colli, Garavini, Ghia, Stabilimenti Farina, Touring, Viotti and, among foreigners, Weinberger & Buhne, John Charles, Abbott, Kevill Davies & March. For example, the cabriolet version presented by Pininfarina in 1936, after many years, obtained again the victory in the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2016. Always a cabriolet version, this time by the Stabilimenti Farina won the Concours d'eleganza Villa d'Este in 1947, although it did not have a commercial following. Presented for the first time at the Paris Motor Show in October 1931, the Astura undergoes, after about a year, some detail changes (second series), then, in 1933, with the third series, the changes are made more consistent: the chassis is doubled (two different wheelbase sizes are made available) the engine is increased in displacement (from 2.6 to 3 liters) and in power (about ten more HP) and also the braking system undergoes several improvements. Other important changes, in particular to the chassis, took place in 1937 with the advent of the fourth series, which in fact took the place of the Dilambda (which has now disappeared from the price lists) and whose chassis is often used to house Ministerial type bodies (Boneschi and Pininfarina the authors of most of these bodies, sometimes monumental). From the engine of the last series of the Astura derived the engine of the Lince armored car, sometimes referred to as the Astura armored car. A total of 2,912 Astura were built. https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancia_Astura
The Lancia Astura Torpedo Gran Sport with chassis no. 30*2056 is a one-off torpedo, the only Castagna bodied version in double phaeton style. It is a Series II car but with a series III engine. It was exhibited at the 1933 Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance where it won the most coveted award, the Coppa d’Oro Referendum. It won again in 1991 Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance. It’s the only car to have won the Concours twice. Mr. Ercole Castagna had a big show room in New York (together with Isotta Fraschini) managed by the engineer Veniero D'Annunzio, son of the great italian poet. Mr D'Annunzio managed to sell the extraordinary automobile to the famous, well known tobacco heiress from New Jersey, Doris Duke. She was called "the richest girl in the world". She bought the Astura for her husband James Henry Roberts Cromwell, an american displomat. With this outstanding outcome, a colored picture was inserted in the Castagna's 1934 famous catalogue with a Gabriele D'Annunzio personal dedication. The car later passed through the hands of several important owners (see the history) and was a star of several concourse d’elegance.