Lancia’s ‘most popular’ model was guided by his widow

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The Lancia Ardea will be featured this fall at theAuto e Moto d’Epoca classic car show in Italy | Show photos

Vincenzo Lancia died in 1937, suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 55 just before his company’s Aprilla modal went into production. But with Italy suffering economically and facing sanctions for its invasion of Ethiopia, Lancia wanted to produce an even smaller and less expensive car model. 

In 1939, the Ardea went into production, and it would become “the most popular” of all Lancia models.

Adele (Miglietti) Lancia and her son, Gianni (center) | FCA Heritage photo

With the founder of the company no longer living, it was his widow, Adele, who guided the development of the Ardea, a vehicle that in addition to sedans was produced in commercial van and even “truck” versions.

The 80th anniversary of the Ardea will be one of the focuses this fall of the Auto e Moto d’Epoca classic car show, Europe’s largest such event, at Padua, Italy, with a special showcase by the Lancia Ardea Club.

The show is scheduled for October 24-27.

An Ardea in motion

Vincenzo Lancia was born in Turin, Italy, the youngest of four children of a wealthy soup cannery owner. His family wanted him to become a bookkeeper, but the youngster was more interested in engines and machines and became an apprentice, focusing on finances but soon working with Aristide Faccioli, who did designs for Giovanni Battista Ceirano, a bicycle importer and producer who produced motorcars from 1901-1904.

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Ceirano sold out to Fiat and Lancia became an inspector, test driver and winning racer who, with support from Count Carlo Biscaretti di Ruffia, launched his own car company in 1906. 

Vincenzo Lancia

Although Lancia’s son, Gianni, would take over his father’s business, he was only a teenager when his father died, so it was left to Adele (Miglietti) Lancia to lead the company’s development and production of the Ardea model, powered by a 30 horsepower overhead-cam V4 engine linked to a 5-speed transmission.

According to The Great Adventure of Women in the Turin Industry, “The day after her husband’s funeral, Adele was already behind the desk to follow the work of the workshop and ensure continuity of management, with her technical preparation and the wise administration of an important heritage. 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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