Although we started Strada e Corsa back in 2005, the adventure involving this car actually began in 1985, when our father received a tip from a friend living in Santiago de Chile about a very rare Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider in a dilapidated state, stored less than an hour from our house in The Hague. We arrived on Monday August 5 to view the car, but it turned out we had missed it by three hours as someone else had just bought it!
Twenty-one years later, we were representing Strada e Corsa at a local classic car trade show in Utrecht in the Netherlands one weekend, and next to a random selection of 1950’s Ferrari and Alfa Romeo parts, we had a beautiful 1955 Lancia Aurelia B20 series IV for sale on our stand. We struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was inspecting the B20 Coupé on display and he mentioned owning a Lancia B24 Spider with an original Dutch registration. This immediately rang a bell and we just knew it had to be the car that was snatched from under our noses all those years ago, as there were only three registered in the country when new and one of those was destroyed.
The gentleman told us he’d bought the Lancia Spider 21 years earlier in The Hague in a completely neglected and dismantled state, which now confirmed our suspicion. He told us about his attempt to restore the car himself, starting with the body, but hadn’t been able to finish the project. We declared our genuine interest in his car and arranged a visit to carry out an inspection.
From the research we did beforehand, it appeared to be the first of two, or possibly three, B24 Spiders delivered in the Netherlands and this one was ordered in ‘Aquamarina Verde’, a very exotic green. Lancia produced the Spider B24 especially for the US market and only in 1955, making it very desirable and collectable with a total production of just 181 examples. This car, with serial number B24S-1022, was imported by the Dutch Lancia dealer, Eggelmeijer in Rotterdam and delivered new to a client living in the historic city centre of Amsterdam, with its 17th Century canals and small bridges. At this time, only ten years after the Second World War, people were still living quite conservatively, so the thought of this 1955 Lancia B24 Spider driving through traffic in its spectacular green hue while most other cars were a dull grey or black, is as romantic as it is spectacular.
Going through some old car magazines, we found this particular car in Auto Revue magazine from June 1955 in a report about the Concours d`Elegance in Scheveningen. It stated that this B24 Spider was a last-minute entry by Eggelmeijer, arriving only the night before the Concours after having been driven from the Lancia factory in Italy to Scheveningen (Holland). This was six months before the B24 Spider would make its public debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show where it attracted the attention of none other than Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. That same car would later be destroyed by a garage fire in Amsterdam, leaving s/n 1022 and possibly one other car within the Dutch borders. In those days this ‘scheveningen concours’ was the only concours in The Netherlands and well known in the north-western part of the continent. That weekend the Lancia won its class, defeating an Austin Healey and an AC Ace and it also trumped a white 1954 Ferrari 250 Monza Spyder in its class, by coincidence a car that our family would later own for ten years.
In 1955 the Lancia B24 Spider was priced at 30,000 Guilders in the Netherlands which was about 1.5 times more than an Austin-Healey or an AC ACE. A brand-new Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was 18,500 Guilders and a Ford Thunderbird Convertible went for 18,700 Guilders, while a 1953 Ferrari 212 Inter was about 55,000 Guilders. On the pictures in Auto Revue magazine we discovered a number of interesting details regarding this particular Lancia B24 Spider, like chrome windshield washer nozzles, a radio and an antenna. These were quite special accessories that most cars did not have, and this made it rather easy to spot and identify the car throughout our research. Later on, during the restoration, we discovered the welded-over holes where the nozzles and the antenna were located, offering more comforting evidence about the car’s identity.
Anyway, back to our planned visit for our inspection of the B24 as agreed with the owner. He kept the car in an unheated barn outside Amsterdam; there was no paint left on the body, it was largely disassembled with a number of parts missing, so it was obvious it needed a complete restoration, like it already did back in 1985.
It was incredibly hard for the owner to part with his car as the restoration had been on his mind for almost 25 years, but we sat down together to negotiate and finally made a deal. Of course we were ecstatic to bring this beautiful Lancia to the Strada e Corsa workshop to finally restore it to perfect condition after at least 35 years and having been neglected and dismantled for so long.
Our first step was to make a complete inventory of all the items and a list of the missing parts, and we made the necessary phone calls to our partners. The chassis and body were sent to Italy and luckily our Italian partner located a patch of original Aquamarina paint on a hidden location in the trunk, where the destructive influences of the sun never reached, leaving the pigment intact. This offered us the chance to exactly match the new paint with the original paint from 1955.
In our own workshop we restored the engine with the highest quality pistons and connecting rods to make sure this was going to be a top-class restoration to Pebble Beach standards.
It was a pleasure to work on the car, as the Lancia Aurelia was very sophisticated with state-of-the-art technology and it was impressive to see the Italian ingenuity of the ambitious engineers that designed it. This is also why it’s necessary to have a lot of technical knowledge about the car, to prevent mistakes that are otherwise easily made.
Most Aurelias driving around with endless problems are the result of a low budget restoration or poor maintenance. Once properly restored and maintained by experienced mechanics, they prove to be very reliable, fast and handle sublimely. Don’t forget that back in 1955 this car drove straight from the Lancia factory in Torino through France to Scheveningen in Holland in one day covering 1,300 kilometres (807 miles) and was then sold as a brand-new car to cover thousands of pleasant and exciting miles after that! The restoration of B24S-1022 took around one and a half years of hard work and total commitment. We put our combined passion into this project to return it to the exact same state it was in back in 1955. We hope you enjoy the photos!
We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures and endeavours and please feel free to contact us if you are interested to join us on one of these adventures in the future. We are always happy to discuss any new restoration projects you may be considering, and we’d also like to hear from you if you’re looking to buy or sell an interesting classic car.
Lennart & Jurriaan Schouwenburg