Lancia’s B24 Spider America was a limited production, open-topped, Pinin Farina bodied “Spider” based on the Aurellia B20GT production Coupé. The B20GTs were produced from 1950 to 1958 in sixth distinct series. The Spider America was based the fourth Series GT and was built in a very short production run in 1954 and 1955. Pinin Farina’s Spider America retained the basic drive-train and suspension layout of the Fourth Series GT, but was instead built on chassis platform that was 8 inches / 203mm shorter. The shorter chassis and lighter “Spider” body took full advantage of the 2,451cc, V-6 engine, four-speed transaxle, independent front suspension and de-Dion rear suspension that also featured in-board “Alfin” drum brakes. Just 240 examples were completed. Those built with the suffix “S” in their chassis numbers were left-hand drive with the “S” standing for “Sinistra” or left in Italian. 181 left-hand-drive examples were completed and 59 were completed in right-hand-drive.
This particular B24S Spider America was a regular production example, one of 240 total examples completed and one of 181 that were left-hand-drive configured. It had two very unique configuration features that set it far apart from the other examples built. This vehicle was assembled as a normal Italian, domestic-market vehicle which featured both Italian lighting and the distinct open glove box without locking door. All gauges and indicators were however in English with the speedometer calibrated in miles at the request of the original ordering owner, an American Air Force officer stationed in Rome.
The other unique features of this Spider America was the “one-of-one” paint and interior scheme. The original color was called “Verde Alassio.” The Max Meyer Color code for “Verde Alassio is 13.665” The name was copied form the Italian village of Alassio, a famous resort area on the Italian Rivera, half-way between Genoa, Italy and Nice, France. Many of the cottages and buildings there are painted this famous light green which is similar to but not quite a “mint” green. This particular Spider America was the one and only example painted in this color combination and fitted with a beige leather interior.
In the Summer of 1980, legendary musician and bassist for the rock band “The Who” John Entwistle was on holiday in Italy and purchased this Lancia.
An old service sticker indicates that In 1982 while still in Italy an oil and filter service was performed on August 20th 1982 with the vehicle showing 49,961 miles. Shortly thereafter and now painted red with the original tan seats now dyed black, this Lancia was delivered to the UK. It was then purchased, at least on paper by Mr. Ken Wyatt win London who was the personal assistant and driver for John Entwistle. (Entwistle had all of his vehicles registered and handled by Wyatt rather than keeping them in his name.)
One month later after delivery to the UK the engine was completely rebuilt and additional services completed on September 17th, 1982. The work was performed by specialist, Weylock Automobiles (Frank V. Collins & Company, Ltd.) in Surrey UK. Upon completion of these repairs the vehicle was road-registered on UK plates “WYA 8” and issued a new MOT on September 9th, 1982. This was renewed again on April 30th, 1983 and finally a last time on August 16th, 1985.
In the Spring of 1985, John Entwistle asked his assistant to sell this Lancia and it was soon purchased by London Classic Car dealer Paradise Garage. In May of 1985 an American scientist and hybrid seed specialist named Robert Heisey was working and living in Parma, Italy where he was employed by PETO Italiano S.r.l., Parma, Italia. Mr. Heisey was a seed selection specialist but also very interested in acquiring a Lancia Spider America. He began negotiations to purchase the vehicle and by the end of June, the car was sold by Paradise Garage to Mr. Robert Heisey. The car was invoiced to his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The sales invoice was dated July 31st, 1985 an the selling price was £10,500 which at the time was $13,702.
That Summer, Mr. Heisey relocated his family to Florida and had the vehicle shipped from Southampton to Jacksonville, Florida. It was shipped on the Roll-On, Roll-Off vessel “Venus Diamond” which departed on the 4th of September 1985 and arrived in Jacksonville on September 17th, 1985.
The Heisey family enjoyed their new Lancia for several years before storing it for the next 20 years in their garage in Gillroy, California after a cross-county move. It remained there quietly until the family decided it was time for it to move on to a new owner. In August of 2014, this Lancia was consigned to the Gooding & Company Auction house for their August 16th Pebble Beach sale. It was lot number 22 and carried an estimate of $900,000 to $1,100,000 and sold for $880,000 to noted UK collector, Mr. Pierre Mellinger. After his purchase, the car was initially shipped to the UK and then to GPS Classic S.r.l., in Soragna, Italy for services and preparation for rallies, tours and races where it successfully ran a variety of events over the next year two and half years prior to our recent purchase.
This Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America has just complete a full and compressive restoration without consideration for time or expense. The work took more than two years and cost in excess of $300,000! You will never encounter a finer example anywhere again.