In storage at the Drouin Golf Club, we have a long roll of synthetic grass and a couple of shallow drip trays which get laid out to protect the dining room floor whenever we have a vehicle on display. Mark McKibbin’s 1925 long-wheelbase Lancia Lambda made full use of the ‘grass’ and with the drip trays utilized under both the engine and the diff, it was felt prudent to also place several serviettes under the unusual sliding pillar front suspension –just in case !
Mark explained that unusual or novel engineering has always been a Lancia trait and the Lambda was an innovative as any of them. This model was the first production car built using monocoque construction. It was also the first vehicle to have both independent front suspension, 4-wheel brakes, shock absorbers and an overhead camshaft engine. In another ‘first’ the Lancia engine is a very narrow angle, alloy block and headed V4 that uses a single head which fits over all 4 cylinders. As a result of this sophistication, and hand-beaten panels, Lancias were expensive cars to build and to buy. The cost of a Lambda was four times the price of a contemporary Ford, yet Lancia always struggled to remain a financially viable manufacturer. In 1955 Lancia was purchased by a concrete company and continued trading, then in 1969 the FIAT Group took over the reins and now own the name.
Between 1922 and 1931 Lancia built approximately 13,000 Lambdas. Mark purchased this car from Queensland in December last year. The previous owner was an octogenarian who had owned the car for 30 years; his records show that it was built in 1925 and sold through Shields Motors in Melbourne. It is also known that the car is now on its second engine, and that one previous owner rolled the car with three passengers on board, damaging the windscreen, headlights and one of its mud guards. An interesting specification for this ‘Colonial’ model was the fitment of large 22” tyres to cope with the bad roads Downunder. The more things change, the more they stay the same !
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