Courtesy of Bonhams
Like the majority of the left-hand B24S Spider Americas, chassis B24S1156 was originally delivered to the United States. The most significant portion of the desirable Spider America’s history began in the mid-1980s, when it was acquired and reimported to Italy by Silvana Cima, a well-known Italian Lancia collector. In order to return the car to active use, Mr. Cima commissioned a complete mechanical and cosmetic restoration from Milan-based KCA Restorations, for many years one of the world’s leading Lancia restorers. In 2005, B24S1156 was sold to Mr. Nico Koel of the Netherlands. In early 2009, the Lancia Spider America was brought back to the U.S., where it was prominently displayed at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, in Monterey, CA. The Aurelia was then acquired by the current owner in 2010 and given a complete, engine-out mechanical overhaul to ensure that its performance matched its appearance. During 2017 and 2018, the Lancia Spider America was subject to a complete bare-metal repaint in the period-correct Lancia Verde Ascot Metallic color, while a new interior and convertible top were carefully crafted and fitted. The chrome was refinished, and the front suspension, shocks and brakes were fully rebuilt. Continuing its extensive tour history, the current owner has completed the Colorado Grand and Copperstate 1000, each twice and without issue.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America
Years Produced:1955
Number Produced:240
Original List Price:$5,600
SCM Valuation:$1,567,500
Tune Up Cost:$1,500
Chassis Number Location:On firewall, stamped in center of engine compartment and on chassis plate
Engine Number Location:Stamped on right side of block
Alternatives:1956–59 BMW 507, 1956–59 Porsche 356A Carrera Speedster, 1953–56 Austin-Healey 100-4 Le Mans
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 28, sold for $810,000, including buyer’s commission, at Bonhams’ Scottsdale, AZ, sale on January 16, 2020.

I’ve written it many times on these pages that today’s collector-car market is more discerning than ever. Others in this issue will have written at length about any macro lessons to be culled from the Arizona sales, but I will just add one line here — it showed me more of what I’ve been seeing in the live-auction marketplace for the past five years.

The best examples continue their inexorable rise away from the ordinary. There are also plenty of enthusiasts eager to spend money — but only on the precise car that meets their exact criteria. Finally, the fundamentals of long-term collectibility as seen in art, furniture, books, watches and real estate are now applied more often in the auto market.

Buyers also are clearly demonstrating what they are willing to spend for a car viewed as “investment grade” versus a “fun driver.” Yes, there were folks who paid more for a resto-mod than for a stock restored car at some Arizona Auction Week sales, but that was not the case at the major catalog sales.

Our subject was a prime example of the market’s health and clarity — and how buyers are carefully evaluating cars before bidding.

A top-notch collectible

The Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America was “discovered” as an extremely desirable landmark 1950s sports car about eight years ago, when prices more than doubled over a three-year period.

We Lancisti found this not surprising — but simply well overdue.

After all, at that time BMW 507s were trading at twice the price of an Aurelia Spider America. Now that differential for the best examples of each is about 15% in favor of the Bavarian car. With values regularly above $1 million for the Lancia, the gap between the most-valuable examples and the less-valuable examples becomes more apparent.

When a vehicle arrives at the million-dollar mark, it is viewed through a sharper lens. What may have once been trivial attributes take on much greater importance. The importance of provenance, originality and condition are all enhanced.

Our subject car

So what of our Aurelia? It was delivered to the United States, but nothing of its early history is known. The story picks up when it was sold in the early 1980s and repatriated to Italy.

During its restoration at KCA, noted at the time for Lancia restorations, it was given the very striking metallic green color it wears today. Apparently it was gray when it arrived in Italy, which quite likely was the original color. The catalog description of the color is clever: “period-correct Lancia Verde Ascot Metallic color.”

A version of this color was used on the Touring Flaminia GT, but it was rather darker. The shade on our subject Spider America is closer to a 1980s Lancia paint that carries the same name and code. Interestingly, it is also very reminiscent of that used on the 1956 Nash Rambler Palm Beach by Pinin Farina. The green looks very good on the car, but in today’s marketplace, details make the difference.

In addition to the color change, various other departures from the expected standards all come at a cost.

At the risk of sailing off into Lancista anorak territory, the coverings of the fuel tank and trunk floor as well as the finish on the castings of some engine components and other items were not done to the level of historical accuracy expected in a top-level example. None of this takes anything away from the car’s amazing driving experience. However, these elements leave potential buyers looking elsewhere — if the aim is to drive and show their Spider at leading concours.

Today’s market

It is illustrative that even in the case of a car this rare, potential buyers do have choices and will exercise them thoughtfully.

The price realized for this very attractive car was just over half of the current SCM Pocket Price Guide Median Valuation. Is this an indication that interest in these cars has somehow collapsed? I think not.

I was pleased to receive the email from SCM World Headquarters asking if I would write a profile of this car, because I knew it would offer the opportunity to once again remind you, dear reader, of how the attributes of value play out at sale time.

Gooding & Company sold a Spider America at their 2018 Pebble Beach sale for $1,870,000, which was the same week that our subject car was offered for sale at RM Sotheby’s sale in Monterey, CA where it was a no-sale at a called $875,000 against a low estimate of $950,000.

In a measure of the realities of the current market, Bonhams was able to work with the consignor to let the car go at a price one of the bidders was willing to pay, which, given the condition and history of the car, seems appropriate.

At an all-in price just above $800,000, there should be plenty of room for the new owner to change some of the attributes of this car, perhaps bringing it back to as-delivered colors and attending to the material and finish details as well. I call this Lancia well — and correctly — bought. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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