1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 S Spider America

Pawel Litwinski, courtesy of Bonhams
Pawel Litwinski, courtesy of Bonhams

This B24 S Spider America had been ordered new by the West Coast Lancia distributor, the now-legendary Kjell Qvale, to be sold out of his San Francisco-based British Motor Car distributorship. Qvale is believed to have sold chassis 1138 to one of the top managers in his organization, Mr. Robert G. Gillespie.

Smart businessmen, both Qvale and Gillespie understood the meaning of the term “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday,” and realized that entering the rare Lancia Spider in sports car racing would be an excellent way to promote and sell the new model. With that in mind, Gillespie reached out to his friend, Eureka, CA-based successful lumberman turned gentleman racer Lou Brero, and entered 1138 in the Torrey Pines Road Races, October 22 and 23, 1955.

Racing against all-time greats such as Phil Hill in a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and Jack McAfee in a Porsche 550 Spyder, Brero and Gillespie finished 6th in the Torrey Pines six-hour endurance race. B24S Spider America chassis 1138 is believed to have remained in the western United States ever since. An ad in the March 1956 edition of Road & Track magazine indicates Robert Gillespie offered the car for sale.

Costa Mesa-based Lancia restoration specialist and aficionado Tony Nicosia later tracked down the car in the 1980s. Nicosia is considered by many to be the expert on post-war Lancias, and his knowledge and extreme attention to detail result in arguably the best driving Lancias leaving his shop.

Not only are the car’s cosmetics done to a factory-correct standard, but the mechanical systems, such as the engine and complex driveline, have also been completely restored. These cars are extremely complicated and labor-intensive to restore. 1138 is now finished and ready to tour the world’s most prominent concours lawns and top-notch rallies.