Unfortunately, commercial vehicles have not had the same level of conservation as that enjoyed by passenger cars. In this way, in relation to some truly iconic models in our recent history, only a few units have survived. Furthermore, this is especially visible in the case of automobiles dedicated to the transportation of passengers; usually scrapped mercilessly once their entire useful life has expired.
As it is, nowadays it is not only really difficult to find historic buses in good condition, but even cars like the so-called “town taxis”. Quite common until the mass popularization of the private vehicle in the late sixties, these served as public transportation in rural areas. being able to move up to eight passengers at once. Furthermore, from the point of view of design and manufacturing, this type of vehicle had a very specific peculiarity.
And, in order to accommodate - commonly - three rows of seats, the tourism models on which these collective taxis were based went through bodywork workshops where the wheelbase was lengthened.
Due to this, and especially when we talk about bases that are not especially massive like the Dodge Dart -an exclusive bet in the Spain of the sixties-, part of the fans of the classics often confuse them with private or institutional limousines.
That said, while under the Franco regime it was models like the SEAT 1500 or the aforementioned Dodge Dart that served as a platform for those “town taxi”, in the Italy of the fifties the Lancia Aurelia was one of the most chosen for this. In fact, in this project it was involve Bertone herself, far away in this case from sports creations or style exercises in order to focus on a task much more related to day-to-day routines.
LANCIA AURELIA B15, LENGTHENED CHASSIS BY BERTONE
1950 was a key year for the evolution of motorsport in Italy. And, not in vain, in just a few weeks three key models for its history were presented. Firstly, the Alfa Romeo 1900. Responsible for bringing the historic house - one of those under state management - to the world of series production, this was launched as el “family member that wins races”. Without a doubt, a motto on which Alfa Romeo's new commercial personality was excellently summarized.
Secondly, Fiat unveiled the lines of its 1400. The model thanks to which it turned the page on the destruction inherent to the Second World War, embarking on a new era under the technical aegis of Dante Giacosa as well as the clear desire for internationalization led by Vittorio Valletta. In fact, as proof of the latter we must point out the fact that this model, the 1400, was the very beginning for SEAT.
Likewise, in third place Lancia took a step forward by launching the Aurelia at the Turin Motor Show. Marketed in the first instance as a sedan, in a very short time it came to be known as coupe and convertible versions with new appearances signed by such prestigious houses as Pininfarina. Some exceptional dresses for its excellent V6 mechanics, the first mounted on a large series automobile.
A VERSION MADE BY BERTONE
In short, to talk about the Aurelia, even today, is to talk about one of the best Italian cars in history. Dominated not only by its innovative technique and radiant design, but also for its performance both commercially and in racing. And, examining the history of Lancia, few models have been as versatile as this one.
Proof of this is that, even though it is especially remembered for its B20 variant - the coupe that established the definition of what came to be understood as GT -, it had such unexpected options in its range as the B15. Picking up the cable given by those mentioned “town taxi”, This was created on an elongated chassis - by 32 centimeters - in order to provide shelter in its cabin for a total of eight passengers.
Presented in 1952, its V6 engine with 1.991 cubic centimeters came from the one fitted to the B21 sedan. Of course, reduced here from 70 HP to 61 HP although giving better thrust from low revs. All this, as can be understood, for satisfy the driving needs of a vehicle that, in addition to space, gained weight. By the way, all of this was completed in the Bertone workshops, which for two years signed the almost seventy assembled units of this Aurelia. “town taxi”. The B15. Without a doubt, a really stylish way to get around the small regions where it served.
Lancia Aurelia B15 Photographs from the Centro Storico Fiat.