Found in a condition “that most would class as beyond reasonable repair” didn’t stop British restoration shop Thornley Kelham from restoring a 1953 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series 3 rally car that has been accepted as an entry in the Mille Miglia historic rally.
“The previously decaying classic has been taken from an almost unsalvageable restoration condition to factory fresh over a two-and-a-half-year period and has now been accepted into arguably the most prestigious classic car rally of all – the Mille Miglia,” the restoration shop said in its announcement.
The car was found in the United States “with a staggering amount of rust plaguing the car,” Thornley Kelham said. “The usual rust points of these vehicles — namely floor pans, sills and door bottoms – had been totally ravaged by years left exposed to the elements.
“So severe was the problem that even the top of the wings (fenders) had rusted through, the transmission tunnel had completely eroded, and the body required strengthening prior to being media blasted as the car had so little structural integrity.”
Despite the vehicle’s condition, the restoration shop’s customer with possession of the car “was determined to see the Aurelia resurrected and (to) play his part in saving this rare car.
“The tired body was fully restored, in many cases by fabricating entirely new panels. A considerable portion of the lower body had to be fabricated whilst maintaining factory curvatures and shut lines, amongst myriad other repairs before moving onto Thornley Kelham’s paint shop to be prepared and painted in the original beige color, as per the factory build sheet.”
The shop also had to fabricate Rally De Corsa-style seats and did period-comment upgrades with a Nardi floor shifter, hood scoop and twin carburetors, as well as Borrani “bi-metallic” wheels.
“Once completed, the owner’s maiden journey in the resurrected Aurelia was a 500-mile weekend of fault-free driving,” the shop noted.
The historic Mille Miglia is scheduled for May 15-18.