Many classic cars rarely turn a wheel, but that’s not the case with this 1930 Lancia Dilambda. Owner Filippo Sole drove this Italian convertible across America, and recently appeared on an episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage” to talk about his experience.
That experience didn’t end well, as the Lancia was hit by a distracted driver in Los Angeles just before filming. Damage to the bodywork and exhaust system was repaired just in time, however. Sole got the car back the day this episode was filmed.
Lancia would later pioneer the V-6 engine with the Aurelia, but when the Dilambda was designed, founder Vincenzo Lancia chose a narrow-angle 4.0-liter V-8, which he felt would make the car more attractive in the U.S. market. Lancia had a tough time competing against domestic luxury brands like Cadillac and Duesenberg, but about 3,000 Dilambdas were built during a production run that extended from 1928 into the early 1930s.
Driving the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission, the V-8 could propel the Dilambda to about 90 mph. That may not sound impressive today, but it definitely was in 1930. It was also probably as fast as you’d want to go with the Dilambda’s cable-actuauted brakes.
This convertible has unique bodywork from British coachbuilder Carlton. The company bodied multiple Dilambdas, but each had a different design, Sole explains in the video. This car was originally purchased by a British aristocrat and remained in the U.K. until at least 1939, when it was damaged, Sole said. The trail runs cold until 1970, when the car was rebuilt in a non-original manner. Sole later purchased the Lancia and restored it to its factory appearance—complete with a dashboard finished in an unusual ivory and silver combination.
Sole then set out to drive the Dilambda from New York to Los Angeles. Cold temperatures and mechanical issues made the first leg of the trip unpleasant, but things got better, Sole said, especially once he reached the warmer desert climate around Albuquerque, New Mexico. He plans to make these trips an annual event, with a different car and route each year. His ultimate goal is to design a car himself.
Lancia today is part of Stellantis, and after many years of neglect, the automotive conglomerate plans to restore the brand with three new models to be launched between 2024 and 2028. Like most of Stellantis’ brands, Lancia aims to go all-electric, planning to phase out gasoline and diesel models by 2028.
Don’t expect Stellantis to bring Lancia to the U.S. The brand is currently focused on the European market.