Lancia Lambda (1922-1931)

Lancia Lambda (1922-1931)

Lancia Lambda was the most advanced car of its day and is still universally recognised to be Signor Lancia’s masterpiece. It was presented in 1922 at the Paris and London Motor Shows. It was the first car weighing less than one thousand kg able to accommodate no fewer than seven people. Lancia Lambda was manufactured in nine successive series between 1922 and 1931.

The public was stunned not only by its non-conformist styling but above all by the great number of new features packed into one model. These included a load-bearing body and independent front suspension with coil springs that enclosed telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers that were absolutely unheard of at that time (until then, spring oscillations were mainly damped by friction shock absorbers that slowed down wheel movement by rubbing between two metal surfaces). As if that were not enough, the Lambda was also the first to adopt a transmission tunnel that served the dual purpose of housing the propeller shaft (no longer housed beneath the floorpan due to the lower body) while also stiffening the body.

Lancia was the first manufacturer in the world to adopt a load-bearing body and this solution placed the Lambda at least a dozen years ahead of other brands that did not adopt the new solution until 30 or 40 years later in some cases. The Lambda body was made out of steel in a period when wood was still extensively used and also used box sections to ensure greater sturdiness and torsional strength. Aluminium panels were then riveted on top.

The light yet sturdy load-bearing body represented one of the great revolutions in automotive production methods. It was actually the obvious solution: it is, after all, much more costly and more complicated to produce a chassis and body and then join them together than to produce a load-bearing body, i.e. a shell or frame to which all the mechanical parts, bonnet, boot, doors and accessories can be adapted.

Lancia Lambda’s engine featured four cylinders in a tight V (just 13 degrees) with the connecting rods practically paired two by two, combined with an overhead camshaft timing system that was years ahead of its time. Engine’s displacement was 2119cc and it produced 49 hp at 3250 rpm. For the 7th series, the engine’s diplacement was increased to 2370cc making it possible to deliver 59 hp. For the 8th series, the displacement was increased again. The 2568cc V4 produced 69 hp.

Lancia Lambda was manufactured between 1922 and 1931 with over ten thousand cars built.