Many classic cars rarely turn a wheel, but that’s not the case with this 1930 Lancia Dilambda. Owner Filippo Sole drove this Italian convertible across America and recently appeared on an episode of Jay Leno’s Garage to talk about his experience.
That experience didn’t end well, as the Lancia was hit by a distracted driver just before filming began in Los Angeles. However, damage to the body and exhaust system could be repaired in good time. Sole got the car back the day this episode was filmed.
1930 Lancia Dilambda on Jay Leno’s garage
Lancia later pioneered the V-6 engine with the Aurelia, but when the Dilambda was designed, founder Vincenzo Lancia opted for a narrow-angle 4.0-liter V-8, which he believed would power the car on the would make the US market more attractive. Lancia had a hard time competing against domestic luxury brands like Cadillac and Duesenberg, but about 3,000 Dilambdas were built during a production run that stretched from 1928 into the early 1930s.
The V-8 drove the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual transmission and could propel the Dilambda to around 90 mph. That may not sound impressive today, but it definitely was in 1930. It was also probably about as fast as you’d want to go with the Dilambda’s cable-actuated brakes.
This convertible has a unique body by British coachbuilder Carlton. The company built several dilambdas, but each had a different design, Sole explains in the video. This car was originally bought by a British aristocrat and remained in the UK until at least 1939, when it was damaged, Sole said. The track runs cold until 1970 when the car was rebuilt in a non-original way. Sole later acquired the Lancia and restored it to its factory appearance – complete with a dashboard finished in an unusual combination of ivory and silver.
Sole then set about driving the Dilambda from New York to Los Angeles. Cold temperatures and mechanical issues made the first leg of the trip uncomfortable, but things got better, Sole said, especially once he reached the warmer desert climate around Albuquerque, New Mexico. He plans to make these trips an annual event, with a different car and route each year. His ultimate goal is to design a car himself.
Lancia is now part of Stellantis, and after many years of neglect, the carmaker plans to restore the brand with three new models to be launched between 2024 and 2028. Like most Stellantis brands, Lancia is aiming to go fully electric, planning to phase out petrol and diesel models by 2028.
Don’t expect Stellantis to bring Lancia to the US. The brand is currently focused on the European market.