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            Once the Aurelia had been successfully introduced in 1950, Lancia set to work on a new car destined to replace the Ardea in the medium-light weight range. The Ardea  had been a very popular car on account of its lively performance and exceptionally low running costs, but by this time it had inevitably begun to feel the effects of old age. Planning had started soon after 1935 and the car had, in fact, been marketed for the first time a few months before the outbreak of World War II. During the war, production of the Ardea had been suspended, and although the factory had the car coming off the line again alongside the Aprilia as soon as hostilities were over, it eventually became apparent that the continual improvements made to the car on the introduction of each of the four new series could not altogether compensate for the rather cramped body and the small 903cc engine. Both the times and the customers’ tastes were changing, and it was clear that the Ardea would ultimately have to be replaced.  
            In 1950 Gianni Lancia, then head of the concern, asked Vittorio Jano and his right hand man Battista Falchetto, to put their project team to work on a one litre car with a roomier, more modern body.  
            The body itself, still chassis based, began to assume its final shape right form the very earliest design stages. Styling was similar to the Aurelia, with a rounded shield type radiator grille and a slightly concave curve at the rear end. The wheelbase was fixed at 2.48, slightly longer than the Ardea (2.44).  
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            During the early experimental stages the engine size was the same as the 903cc Ardea (65x68), but technically speaking it was very different form its predecessor although it did in fact inherit the narrow ten degree V cylinder layout; the sloping valves were opened and shut by pushrods and rockers operated by two camshafts, which in turn were driven by silent chain with a patented automatic, hydraulic tensioner. The aluminium cylinder head had inserted valve seats and hemispherical combustion chambers.  
            Given the small amount of space available between the cylinders, it was decided to use a crankshaft with only two end bearings. This decision was further justified by the fact that the low compression ratio would not subject the bearings to too much strain. It goes without saying that a great deal of time and effort was spent in designing and balancing the crankshaft itself to obviate any possibility of flexing at high engine speeds. Some development difficulties were experienced with the location of the pushrods and of the bolts fixing the head to the crankcase.  
            After early bench testing, it was decided to boost engine capacity by increasing the stroke, thus having dimensions 65 to 72 to give 955cc. Later a perfectly square engine was tried with a bore and stroke of 68x68 to give 987 cc. At the beginning of 1953, the definitive cubic capacity was adopted: 1090 cc, with bore and stroke of 68 to 75 mm. With compression ratio of 7.4 to 1, power output was 38  HP at 4400 rpm, and maximum torque of 7.2 mkg was delivered at 3000 rpm. Plugs were neatly positioned at the centre of the V formed by each row of cylinders.  
            Front wheel independent suspension was in the classic Lancia tradition – transverse axle with vertical pillars containing coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers inside the springs. However, travel and flexibility had both been improved in comparison to the ardea, and wheel-road reaction had been reduced by improving the steering joints. The steering box itself was of the helicodial sector type with a worm and roller mechanism and a ratio of 4/48. Right hand drive was standard but left hand drive was available on request. Rear suspension consisted of semi-elliptic, asymmetrical leaf springs with hydraulic, telescopic shock absorbers.  
            The four speed gearbox in unit construction with the engine was of the conventional type with a secondary shaft and constant mesh worm gears. Second, third and fourth gears were synchronised and ratios were as follows: 3.912: 1 – 2.176: 1 – 1.418:1 – 1: 1; reverse 5.583: 1.  The shift lever on the steering column had first and second gears away form the driver, while third and fourth were towards him. The propeller shaft had two flexible end couplings; back axle was 41/9.  
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            The car was baptised 'Appia’ in accordance with the Lancia custom of calling their cars after roads bearing names of Roman consuls. Other main design features included the use of an inverted type solex 30-32 BI carburettor, coil ignition, forced lubrication ( capacity, 3.5 litres) water cooling, with pump, thermostat at the radiator inlet, and radiator blinds automatically regulated by the thermostat.  Front and rear wheel tracks were respectively 1178 and 1182 millimetres, and tyres measured 155-15.  Brakes were of the hydraulic type with 23xm diameter drums and a total braking surface of 890 square centimetres; the hand brake operated on the rear wheels.  Turning circle was 9.70 metres.  Twelve volt electrics comprised a 130 Watt dynamo, and a 38 A/h battery.  The petrol tank was at the rear, with a capacity of 38 litres and a mechanical supply pump.  
            Length of the series I Appia was 3.865 metres, width 1.42, height 1.422, ground clearance 16 cm.  Dry weight was 860kg.  Top speed was 120kph; fuel consumption was given as 8 litres for 100 kilometres and the car could face a maximum gradient of 29%.  
            The Appia received a most enthusiastic reception when it was first presented to the public at the Turin show in 1953.  A luxury eleven hundred with the Lancia hallmark was bound to find a market, and the Appia’s combination of luxury and performance with relatively low running costs quickly swept the car to success.  The luxury plus performance plus economy formula which had first introduced with the Ardea now met with still further recognition.  Appia sales soared, minor teething troubles were quickly set to rights and the car set out on a production run that was to last ten years and provide an outstanding triumph for the factory.  The success of the model was still further increased on introduction of the second series in 1956, when Antonio Fessia took over as Lancia Technical director.  Both mechanical and styling changes were introduced with a view to improving performance and comfort as well as giving the car a more modern line.  
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            The compression ratio was brought down from 7.4 – 1 to 7.2 – 1, and a new head was used with valve stems of equal lengths and new springs.  The cooling system was improved, combustion chambers were now perfectly hemispherical, pistons were redesigned and plugs were made more accessible.  The cam profile was altered and a Solex C 32 BIC replaced the former 30 – 325 BI.  Power output was now up to 43 hp at 4800 rpm, and maximum torque at 3.000 rpm was increased to 7.8 mkg.  The wheelbase was lengthened by three centimetres and the tail of the car was cleverly redesigned to give a much improved appearance and a bigger luggage compartment.  Apart from helping to improve the Appia’s looks, the longer wheelbase had a positive effect on the car’s straight line stability and considerably reduced any tendency to suffer from the effects of strong side winds.  Another important innovation was the use of stainless steel for the bumpers, door handles and body trim.  
            First, second and third gear ratios were changed to 3.912: 1; 2.175: 1 and 1.417: 1 and selector positions on the steering column lever were changed to conform with general international practice.  Back axle ratio was not 9/38, left hand drive replaced right hand drive as standard, and a slightly decreased steering ratio of 4/51 was introduced.  Last but not least, aluminium drums with cast iron backing were introduced on the front wheels.  The second series Appia also benefited from considerable internal improvements; there was more leg room, a bench front seat with an adjustable back, a redesigned facia and a new instrument panel with twin dials.  Top speed was now up to 128 kph.  
            Introduction of the second series considerably boosted sales of the Appia.  The changes made, both in styling and mechanics, did much to underline the solid, intrinsic virtues of the car, and its strength and reliability were further confirmed in 1958, when the motor magazine ‘Quattoruote’ submitted the Appia to a non stop drive of 162.000 km at an average speed of 70.468 kph.  The route chosen for the test was Rome-Florence-Bologna-Padua-Bescua-Milan-Bologna-Ancona-Pescara-L’Aquila-Rome, and the Appia’s total mileage over this route was a hundred times greater than the distance covered by a competitor in the Mille Miglia.  The little Lancia came through it all with flying colours, and not once in the course of the whole gruelling run did it give the slightest mechanical bother.
            Several special versions were introduced along with the second series, including the Pininfarina Coupe, Vignale’s Cabriolet and Cabriolet de luxe and the Zagato GT Coupe.  All these cards were fitted with a higher compression engine, which together with carburation changes gave a maximum output of 53 hp and a top speed of 145 kph.  The Zagato Coupe, which was lighter and more aerodynamic, could reach 150 kph and was also available with a still more highly tuned engine, giving 60 hp and a maximum speed of 170 kph.    
            The third series of the Appia was introduced at the Geneva show in 1959.  The most obvious change was the replacement of the traditional, shield type radiator grille by a more modern, horizontal version which allowed a lowering of the whole frontal area, and by bringing the bonnet line down also made for improved visibility.  Another, minor styling change consisted in the fitting of more prominent rear bumpers.  Internally, a new door trim was introduced, various other detail modifications were made, and the front seat was lowered by two centimetres.  With the compression ratio increased to 7.8: 1, maximum power was up again to 48 hp at 5200 rpm.  There were minor modifications to the timing system, the cylinder head and the cooling system and rear axle ratio was now 11/46 to compensate for the smaller wheels and the 155 – 14 tyres.  Braking was also notably improved by the introduction of double overlap drums at the front and an auxiliary braking circuit (Lancia patent).  Top speed of the new third series Appia was 132 kph.