This rare Nardi converted and meticulously restored Lancia Aurelia B20GT Series IV was imported into the Netherlands from Nice (France) approximately 20 years ago. Its last known owner in France was Mr. Jean Pierre Cornu, who acquired the car in the early 1970s. The present owner, a well known collector of thoroughbred Italian sports and racing cars, bought the Lancia in 1989 after its discovery in a deserted barn. The engine was outside of the car but all essential components and trim parts were present. There were no signs of major crashes or serious structural rust. The Aurelia was completed at Lancia's Turin factory on 16th June 1954 and first registered on 5th July that same year - in Italy, according to Mr. Cornu. Later the car was sold to France. Mr. Cornu also confirmed that the Nardi equipment, including the authentic bonnet scoop, was present when he owned the car. This extensive special equipment installed by Torinese tuner, Enrico Nardi, would seem to suggest that this Aurelia has probably been used in rally competition or racing. For instance, in addition to the many Nardi modifications, it has an authentic special cushioned Aurelia B20 driver's seat that gives better lateral support at speed. In recent correspondence with Mr. Cornu it is stated that a former French owner living in the French Alps, who sold the car to a collector in Marseilles, explained to him (in the early 1970s) that this particular Aurelia participated in the Mille Miglia and raced at Monza. He claimed to have written proof. As this former owner had no reason to try and impress Mr. Cornu (who had acquired the car from the Marseilles collector) there is, also according to Mr. Cornu, little reason to doubt his statement (see e-mails on the subject in the documentation). Since completion in 2002, the car has been used occasionally in Dutch and Belgian events such as the well known Red Cross Rally, covering approximately 6,000 kilometers. It is offered with Dutch and French titles, FIVA passport, original jack and wheel nut spanner, and a complete file on the rebuild containing a selection of photographs illustrating the quality and extent of this professional restoration. The original front bumper and a recently replated rear bumper of superb quality are included in the sale.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1954 Lancia Aurelia B20 Series 4
Years Produced:1951-1958 (all series)
Number Produced:3,871 (all series)
Original List Price:$5,800
SCM Valuation:$70,000-$135,000
Tune Up Cost:$350-$1,000
Distributor Caps:$160
Chassis Number Location:Engine compartment on firewall
Engine Number Location:Stamped on right side of block
Club Info:American Lancia Club, 27744 Via Ventana, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
Alternatives:1955-1957 Aston Martin DB 2/4 Mk. III, 1955-1958 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS, 1959-1961 Facel Vega HK500
Investment Grade:B

This car sold for $136,448 including premium at the Bonhams Monaco sale on April 30, 2010.

Among the attributes known as ‘characteristics of value’ in the appraisal trade are style, condition, rarity, utility and provenance. They must always be considered when identifying an object’s comparables and are essential to properly establishing value.

This Lancia Aurelia B20 offers a good object lesson in showing how these factors interrelate. They are important not only because they allow you to properly compare like vehicles, but they are also the keys to unlocking buyer appeal. If you look at any list of “A” level collectible cars, they will score high in every one of the characteristics. Some can weigh more heavily than others, and often a question about one can have a cancelling effect on another.

But first, a bit of background: I inspected this car as part of my report on the February 2009 Bonhams Rétromobile auction in Paris, France. In my comments I stated, “Excellent panel fit, very good paint in non-original color needs a rub-out. Generally good bright trim, but some repairs to chrome and heavy nicks in alloy pieces visible. Good interior with some minor wear on driver’s seat cushion and improvised radio blanking plate. Nardi wood wheel, floor shift. A stunning, if not correct, color gave this Aurelia lots of eye appeal. Generally well presented, but the details were not quite there.” The car was also restored to a ‘competition’ appearance, with the bumpers removed and a set of driving and fog lights fitted to the nose.

Cranking up the Appeal-O-Meter

So, let’s look at how this B20 stacks up on our appeal-o-meter.

Style? The Mario Felice Boano-designed and Pinin Farina-built body has been acknowledged as one of the all-time classic shapes.

Condition? It appears that the Aurelia has been very well restored. Not to an international show level, as this car was clearly intended to be used. The paint was very well applied, needing a finishing rub in 2009 which it may have received by this sale. Some weakness in the bright trim hurt the overall presentation, and I rated the car as a “3”; but its overall presentation was very appealing.

Rarity? With almost 3,900 constructed in six series, the B20 is not particularly rare. But it’s not a common car by any means, with fewer than 500 of the 4th series models built. Perceived to have the best balance between the lightness of the early cars with the refinement and added power of the later series, for many the 4th series is the pick of the lot.

A fun driver for rallies, tours and races

When it comes to utility, this 1954 Lancia is eligible for practically every vintage rally, tour and race event. The Aurelia B20 also has the benefit of actually being a fun drive, with a flexible V6 engine and a sophisticated, modern feeling chassis with inboard rear brakes and transaxle gearbox. It also has the desirable Nardi floor shift and carburetor intake.

Now we come to provenance. This is where things get tricky for this car. The catalogs in Paris and Monaco relate a history of ownership which goes back into the 1960s, with two known owners from the early 1970s to present. The complications come in concerning the Nardi modifications and a suggested competition history. It is stated that “the engine was full and original Nardi specification.” However, with no information on the original owner, you have to read that statement carefully. Rebuilt to Nardi specification, not necessarily the engine’s original spec.

Then there is the Mille Miglia and Monza race history. An owner who had the car several owners prior to the one who sold the car to the vendor stated that he had ‘written proof’ of the race history. However, this proof never came into the hands of the subsequent owners and it’s clear that in both the 2009 Paris sale and this year’s Monaco sale, the bidders weren’t willing to pay more for something which couldn’t be confirmed beyond doubt.

Foggy race history dents sales price

When offered in 2009, the Aurelia was a no-sale at a high bid of $108,562 (?80,000), a solid #3 car number. This time around it found a buyer at $136,448 (?103,500), appropriate for a #2 car. The seller certainly benefited from the second offering, but it’s also fairly certain that had the Mille Miglia and Monza history been confirmed, a more substantial bump would have been achieved. Regardless, the buyer has an attractive, very usable collectible with a FIVA passport and ready to run. Remember your characteristics, and you’ll seldom go wrong.

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