Once owned by well-known Lancia expert, Wim Oude Weernink. Interior refreshed and running nicely.
It’s always astonishing to see how advanced Lancia’s models were before the company was finally subsumed into the FIAT organisation. The Appia was a small, rear wheel drive saloon introduced in 1953 which went through three series until it was replaced by the Fulvia ten years later. It featured classic Lancia innovations such as a narrow angle (10.14°) small capacity v-four engine, sliding pillar independent front suspension (the last Lancia to have this), self-supporting bonnet and boot lids and pillarless construction with forward opening front doors and rearward opening back doors. In classic Lancia tradition the default model was RHD which makes it suitable for today’s UK driving conditions.
This particular car was formerly owned by renowned Lancia author Wim Oude Weernink, writer of, among other works “La Lancia” and “The Lancia Fulvia and Flavia (A collector’s guide)”. Indeed, it was his first ever Lancia. There is a charming note on file describing how he came to acquire the Appia and its subsequent journey through other owners and collections. As well as the Appia, Mijnheer Weernink has owned an Aurelia GT, Astura, another Aurelia, an Aprilia, a late Appia coupe and an Appia truck (camioncino), not to mention several Ferraris! It is evident that Italian cars, especially Lancias, have been a lifelong passion of his.
The car still retains evidence of its Netherlands life in the form of enamel grill badges and windscreen stickers.
In a fetching shade of dark red (marrone) with a beige woollen cloth interior, aluminium bumpers and alloy handles and ivory plastic column gearchange, controls and steering wheel, this little car is a period masterpiece. The redesigned second series – intended to answer some of the criticisms of Lancia’s discriminating clientele – appeared only a couple of years later and is a different shape altogether. So the series 1 is a short-lived model in a short body version. It and the restyled second series retained Lancia’s traditional shield-shaped front grill which was finally ditched for the third series in favour of something more modern but arguably less iconic and certainly less distinguished. First series cars were not available as chassis-only so there are no known special versions either, unlike later series Appias.
For a small engine (1098cc) car, the Appia has excellent, smooth performance. The brakes were overhauled at a Lancia specialist recently and there is a spare carb gasket set. Besides the car’s ownership story, the paperwork includes some old MoT certificates and contemporaneous road test extract reports from The Motor, The Autocar and Autosport magazines, including original copies of the last two journals.
We have spent some time tidying the car. When it arrived with us, its appearance could best be described as slightly “lived in” – as in the definition of “having a comfortable and appealing appearance or quality that comes from being used for a long time” – but dying to be used. We have had both the front seat cushions professionally repaired in closely matching material and piping as the originals had seen better days and this has smartened up the inside of the car. This lovely little car could be improved further if desired although, in many ways, this might detract from its inherent character.