Lancia Appia

Rédaction : Albert Lallement  


Introduced in 1953, this saloon had all the aesthetic refinement and technical qualities for which Lancia was renowned at the time.

Launched three years after the Aurelia B10, the Lancia Appia was a striking resemblance to the Aurelia. In fact, this compact, luxurious little saloon struggled at times to establish itself in the shadow of its predecessor. Like many manufacturers in the aftermath of the war, Lancia revived models whose careers had been cut short by the global conflict and, like the Aurelia which succeeded the Aprilia, the Appia was to replace the Ardea that appeared in 1939.

From 1956 onwards, Lancia entrusted the production of special Appia bodywork to independent craftsmen, such as Pinin Farina, who manufactured a small series of sports coupes. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.

The 50s were a period of unprecedented excitement for carmakers as they sought to revive their production facilities. The economic stakes were very high, both for the prestigious models as for the popular cars that were playing an increasingly important role in everyday life. Cars were seen as a symbol of emancipation, freedom and social success. With this in mind, Lancia decided in the spring of 1953 to launch a car to replace the Ardea.

In this catalogue from the 1953 model year, the Lancia Appia is presented as a compact family saloon whose lines are very similar to those of the Aurelia B10. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.


This new model, named Appia, was presented at the 35th Turin International Motor Show in April 1953. It rivalled the Austin A40, the Fiat 1100-103, the Peugeot 203, the Simca Aronde, the Opel Olympia Rekord and the Ford Consul as one of the most compact saloon cars on the market. Gianni Lancia, having taken over the management of the company in 1937 after the death of Vincenzo, the brand's founder, decided to give priority to the launch of the Aurelia in 1950. At the same time, he started working on the engineering to replace the Ardea. His wish was to maintain an entry-level model and support the Aurelia in the catalogue of the Turin-based brand. However, at Lancia, entry-level does not mean bottom of the range, far from it. The little Appia was distinguished by the technological innovations that were so dear to Lancia and which were quite unusual at the time for a popular car. Unable to compete with the giant Fiat in terms of production volume, and therefore selling price, Lancia clearly emphasised a sophistication to which customers had grown accustomed.

The second generation Appia, launched in 1956, had a protruding rear end that gave it a more modern look than its predecessor. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © © Lancia D.R.


This rather luxurious saloon, very agile and similar in style to the Aurelia B10, was immediately well received. The car then enjoyed a ten-year career, during which more than 109,430 units of all versions were built and many new models were introduced. During the same period, the ingenious Lancia chassis was also offered as a bare platform to leading Italian coachbuilders such as Pinin Farina, Vignale, Allemano and Zagato, who offered versions that were both sporty and elegant.

The basic Appia had a rigid, lightweight self-supporting structure, with independent front wheels, telescopic suspension and a particularly narrow (10°) V-shaped 4-cylinder engine with an aluminium cylinder head. The majority of the engine's technical improvements were the work of Vittorio Jano, a prolific and talented engineer to whom Lancia owed many of its sports successes. The bodywork, which offered a very spacious passenger compartment, continued to feature opposing doors with no central pillar. Its overall rigidity was enhanced by the massive overhead pillars and large transmission tunnel.

The third series of Appia, distinguished by its horizontal radiator grille, retained the characteristic opposing doors with no central pillar. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.


The second generation of the Appia was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1956. Its three-box body was more modern, but its personality was less assertive compared to that of the previous version, to such an extent that it could almost be mistaken for a new model. The wheelbase was extended by 3 cm and the engine, with a new cylinder head and a new Solex 32 PBIC carburettor, saw its power increased to 43.5 bhp. This Appia 2, designed by Professor Antonio Fessia, who was just taking over the technical management of Lancia, soon proved to be the most brilliant and luxurious 1,100 saloon on the European market at the time.

Three years later, also at the Geneva Motor Show, the third and final evolution of the Lancia Appia was released. An immediate distinctive feature was the horizontal radiator grille, taken from the Flaminia, which replaced the shield-shaped radiator grille that had been used until then. The engine now developed 48 bhp at 4,900 rpm with a maximum torque of 8.7 mkg at 3,000 rpm. The last Appia left the Lancia Borgo San Paolo factory in Turin on 27 April 1963, to be replaced by the new Fulvia.

With the Appia, Lancia has succeeded in making a significant breakthrough in the popular small car segment. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Lancia D.R.

Technical data

Lancia Appia C10 (1953)

• Engine: C10 type, 4-cylinder, 10° 14' V-twin, longitudinal, front 

• Displacement: 1,089.51 cm3 

• Bore x stroke: 68 mm x 75 mm 

• Power: 38 bhp at 3,800 rpm 

• Fuel: Solex 30 BI vertical inverted carburettor 

• Ignition: Marelli B17A coil and Marelli S54C distributor 

• Timing: 2 side camshafts, 2 V-valves at 67° per cylinder 

• Transmission: rear wheel drive, 4-speed gearbox + M.A. 

• Tyres: 5.60 x 15 (front and rear) 

• Brakes: drum (front and rear), hydraulically operated 

• Length: 3865 mm 

• Width: 1420 mm 

• Height: 1422 mm 

• Wheelbase: 2480 mm 

• Front track: 1178 mm 

• Rear track: 1182 mm 

• Weight (empty): 820 kg 

• Maximum speed: 120 km/h


Despite being intended as a family saloon, the Appia proved itself to be a formidable little sports car in the Touring category. At first, the Appia was entered in low profile races by amateurs, but occasionally it achieved some notable results, such as 2nd place in its class in the 1953 Sestriere Rally, and victory in the 1,001-1,300 cm3 class in the 1956 Tour of Corsica (7th overall). Its racing career really took off in 1957 when the CSAI (Commissione Sportiva Automobilistica Italiana) officially classified the Appia Zagato in the "Gran Turismo" category. In May, it won the Mille Miglia in the 1,001-1,100 cm3 class.

It repeated this success in the Italian classic in 1958, 1959 and 1961, as well as in the 1962 Acropolis Rally and the 1963 Rally dei Fiori (Sanremo). The Appia Zagato would also claim 3rd place in the Endurance class at the famous 12 Hours of Sebring in 1959. The Lancia Appia Zagato also won no less than 10 Italian Touring championships in its class between 1957 and 1965, as well as two ltalian Hill Climb championships in 1959 and 1965. The Appia's engine was also used by small Italian manufacturers to power Formula Junior single-seaters.

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