SOLD | 1951 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series 1
Chassis no. B20-1010
Engine no. B20-1009
Body no. 0010
Differential no. 12
Front suspension no. 9
Engine no. B20-1009
Body no. 0010
Differential no. 12
Front suspension no. 9
Chassis B20-1010, offered here, was assembled by the Lancia factory on 7th April 1951, fitted with engine number B20-1009, and then tested on the 19th. The car was delivered new to Giovanni Bracco who registered the car in his home town of Vicenza on 27th April 1951 on license VC 25466. The car was delivered as a standard road car apart from being fitted with a floor gear change, and uprated carburation.
Giovanni Bracco was a well-known and respected Italian racing car driver. He was born on the 6th June 1908 and would race many great cars both before and after the War, even winning the 1952 Mille Miglia in a Ferrari 250 S Berlinetta!
Only a few days after taking ownership of the Lancia Aurelia, Bracco chose to compete at the 1951 Mille Miglia, with race number 332 and navigator Umberto Maglioli. It was an event he had first entered in 1938 with a Fiat 1500 Spider, then again in 1940, before working his way up to a Ferrari 166 MM in 1950. Bracco was a great driver, even leading the race overall with this 1991cc Lancia Aurelia. However, with time Gigi Villoresi eventually overhauled the B20 GT, mainly thanks to his Ferrari 340 Americas 4.1 litre engine!
After 13 hours of racing on tight roads in heavy rain, ‘Giuàn’ (Braccos nickname) or Giunanin as he was known to his friends, was absolutely exhausted. According to contemporary reports, Maglioli continuously passed him his favorite Pall Mall cigarettes during the race to keep him awake! Bracco had driven his Aurelia sensationally, finishing second overall and first in the Gruppo A – 2000 class, an absolutely staggering achievement. Once over the line it is understood he asked for a bottle of red wine, which, once handed to him, he promptly emptied in the same was he had driven the Mille Miglia – in silence and all in one go!
This cars next outing was at the grueling La Coppa della Toscana hill climb held on the 3rd of June 1951. The event was started in 1949 due to the exclusion of Florence in the Mille Miglia, with many local drivers participating in the annual event which encompassed many of the surrounding provinces. Bracco drove the 680 km event without a navigator and finished a hugely respectable 9th overall. Then, only one week later on the 10th June, Bracco entered his beautiful B20 GT in the Caracalla night race where he took 1st position overall!
The next competition that B20-1010 would enter was the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours, held over the 23rd and 24th June. Privateer, Count Don Giovanni ‘Johnny’ Lurani, was unprepared for the phenomenal success of the Lancia Aurelia B20 GT, and as a result had no cars ready for the Le Mans 24 Hours race, however, he did offer to enter Braccos car under his Scuderia Ambrosiana banner, and even drive! The car was driven to Le Mans which left very little time for last minute inspections, however the only additional equipment required was an extra fuel tank which was located in the boot, and a plastic windshield. During this time the car was also repainted red at the request of Gianni Lancia who said if the car was to take part in an international event, it should appear in the official Italian racing colour! Hastily after the Caracalla night race two coats of red pain were applied on top of the existing black.
The 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours started at 4pm under blue, but threatening skies, when Vicomte de Rohan dropped the flag with 60 cars on the right side of the circuit, and 60 drivers the left. This Aurelia was the first car to ever start the famed Le mans 24 Hours with radial tyres, soon to become an advantage when the rain settled in on Saturday evening!
According to Vittorio Jano, the Le Mans 24 Hours event requires three times the mechanical effort that that of the Mille Miglia. Sensationally, this Aurelia was unflustered during this test, and wearing race number 33, dominated its competitors, finishing first in class, beating two Frazer Nashes and a Ferrari, and twelfth overall! The car performed faultlessly and had no issues, pit stops were only made for fuel and water. The engine required only two pints of oil throughout the entire 24 hours, and the tyres were never changed! The car covered 3,172.380 kilometers, achieving an average speed of 132.182 kilometers per hour.
Once the race was over and the celebrations had ended, Bracco and Lurani simply loaded their luggage back into the car and took off on their return trip across Europe without even adjusting the brakes or changing a spark plug, phenomenal!
This B20 GT continued its success at the 1951 6 Hours of Pescara. Post Le Mans, and prior to this event the car received some very special updates. The roof was lowered, bodywork modified and the engine power increased. The lowered roofline and modified bodywork on 1010 is believed to have been the work of Carrozzeria Rocco Motto of Turin, a leading coachbuilder to major car companies including Pininfarina, Ghia and Lancia. Bracco again guided 1010 to success, this time winning the race overall.
Auto Italiana notes in its review of the 6 Ore di Pescara on 30th August 1951 “Bracco, in his Lancia Aurelia Le Mans winner but equipped this time with a more powerful engine and lowered body much more aerodynamically efficient, took command of the race, but on the straight at Montesilvano was overtaken by Cornacchias Ferrari 2560cc Gran Turismo which passed the stands in first place, hurtling past at more than 200km per hour!”
To end the 1951 race season, Bracco took 1010 to Mexico for the second running of the Carrera Panamericana road race with co-driver Gilberto Cornacchia. The race would only run from 1950-1954 with many contemporaries considering it to be the most dangerous motor racing event in the world. Chassis 1010, now returned to its black livery was heavily sign-painted and wearing race number 101.
The Carrera Panamericana was tough, but that did not phase Bracco, he completed the third stage in 47 minutes, quicker than the Ferrari Works entered car for Piero Taruffi! Unfortunately, in stage four Bracco and 1010 retired after an accident, although neither he or his co-driver were injured.
Bracco lived his life by the motto “Drive flat out, if it holds together you win!”, something he certainly proved with this fabulous Aurelia.
With the car having been damaged in the Carrera Panamericana, Bracco chose to leave the car in Mexico and sold it to Enrique Ortiz Peredo, a local architect and race enthusiast. Peredo repaired the car, painted it white and entered it in the 1952 Carrera Panamericana. He drove well and finished ninth in class and twenty eighth overall. Image from this event clearly show 1010 wearing race number 27 and white paint adorning the beautifully lowered roofline.
After this success the car appears to have been stored and is believed to next appear in June 1954 in an advert in ‘Motor Trend’ magazine. The car was offered for sale from a dealer in Los Angeles with an asking price of $4995. Interestingly, a window sticker appears to indicate that at this time the car had an Arizona registration.
In early 2011, chassis 1010 was discovered in Texas and bought by Italian dealer and Lancia aficionado, Daniele Turrisi, and returned to Europe. Before the car reached Turrisi in Italy it was bought by the current owner who immediately embarked upon the most exhaustive of restorations with renowned specialists Thornley Kelham, focusing on preservation rather than replacement.
The car is presented in truly stunning condition thanks to a superbly well researched and executed restoration. Even the history of the paintwork was emulated, first the car was painted black (as it was at the 1951 Mille Miglia), then red (as it was at the 1951 Le Mans 24 Hours), and then finally given a topcoat of black (as it was at the 1951 Carrera Panamericana), with the livery of its final race with Bracco painstakingly painted on by hand, exactly the same as it would have been in period!
Giovanni Bracco ownership, combined with a stunning list of events and results, as well as being offered in absolutely beautiful condition, makes this an unmissable opportunity for the connoisseur wanting to own one of, if not the, most significant Lancia Aurelias ever built.