Thornley kelham is one of the many British companies dedicated to the classic motor. Nestled in the quiet Cotswolds region it boasts some 30 workers focused on artisan work. A meticulous job with which they restore high-end classics as well as prepare rally cars. Although they were known within the world of English classics, they did not give the international bell until they got their hands on an Italian car.
A mythical Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series VI mid-50s with which they transitioned to a new model: the Aurelia "Outlaw". And it is that, okay, although we recognize that with the odd project of "r”We have had doubts… We were delighted with this from the first moment. Building up some good knowledge in restoring Lancia models, the guys at Thornley Kelham could have returned this Aurelia GT to its original condition. But no.
Far from it, they launched into a series of modifications that have not only created a clawed Aurelia, but a tribute to the spirit of the model that inaugurated the sporting side at Lancia. In addition, they took as a point of reference one of the most remembered competition Aurelia: the one with a lowered roof with which Giovanni bracco He participated in the 1951 Panamericana.
More than just another project of "r”, This car developed by Thornley Kelham is a tribute to the history of the Aurelia. A story that dates back to the late 30s, goes through a peculiar 50s unit and continues to this day. And it is that, after its presentation in the Privé Room 2015, Thornley Kelham prepared yet another unit, followed by three that are currently in process. A complete success, and seeing it in motion ... It is impossible not to fall for its charms.
WHERE DOES THIS ROOF COME FROM? THE BRACCO SERIES I AURELIA
The first thing that strikes us when we see this Lancia Aurelia "Outlaw”Is the shape of the roof. Reduced in the manner of the MePre MiniIt has nothing to do with the original bodywork. Apart from a more gross aesthetic, with this arrangement more effective aerodynamics were achieved. Something to keep in mind when you compete with a model that benefits twisty terrain as much as it hurts straights.
Many of you will have thought that this ceiling is an aesthetic license from the restorers of Thornely Kelham. But not at all ... It actually comes directly from the Lancia Aurelia B20 GT series I with which Giovanni bracco he played Mille Miglia and Le Mans. A unit that these restaurateurs know perfectly. Not in vain it was they who returned it to the original state with which it started the 1951 Pan-American Highway.
After three years of work, the Aurelia de Bracco was featured at Peeble Beach 2014 achieving great admiration. So much so that Thornely Kelham was asked by a British customer to emulate this historic model using the base of a VI-series Aurelia GT. Everything learned would be turned into an unsuspected "r”Empowered. And what if they have turned it right ...
AN AURELIA SO SPORTY? YES, THAT WAS CREATED FOR ...
The chronicles say that during the 1951 Mille Miglia more than one spectator was left with disbelief. For a moment the car that was in second position was neither a Ferrari… nor a Maserati… nor anything like that. But a simple Lancia with only 75CV. It is true that when the straights arrived the Ferraris imposed their power, but that was engraved in the minds of many.
The following year -and with engines raised to 90CV- an Aurelia achieved third place in the Mille Miglia. Although for milestone ... The triplet in Targa Florio from that same 1952! Where did Lancia get that claw from? Well, maybe it all has to do with the unconscious momentum that youth often has. And it is that in 1937 the founder of the company died prematurely: Vincenzo Lancia. Thus disappeared the man who had left racing to focus on producing avant-garde but not sports cars.
Soon after, and at only 24 years old, his son Giovanni Lancia He was in charge of the family business. This supposed a powerful change of course, which was reflected in the hiring of the mythical Vittorio Jano as head of the Research Department. Lancia was preparing to return to racing, but he would do it his way, little by little. A) Yes the appearance of a saloon that was easily adaptable to racing was looming on the horizon. There was less left for Aurelia ...
A HYBRID OF QUALITY AND SPORT: THE LANCIA AURELIA IS BORN
With the idea of imposing his law on racing, Giovanni Lancia became obsessed with the idea of creating a completely new engine. Thus the things returned to the idea of his father: the development of a V6. This ingenuity would not only be the heart of the brand's new saloon, but also the fulcrum of the new sports program. Something that, if we start to debate, many point out as the great Achilles heel of Lancia during the 50s. Wanting to compete with Ferrari and Maserati right off the bat ... It almost sent the brand into disaster.
In fact, in 1956 the company had to give Ferrari its F1 team due to financial unfeasibility. Business controversies aside, the truth is that the appearance of the Aurelia in 1950 left Lancia right where it wanted. With this saloon they had a solid and salable car full of technical advances such as the change in transaxle. But also a manageable vehicle equipped with a V6 nerviosote with sporty airs.
A year later the GT version appeared. With a cubic capacity increased to 2 liters, it offered 75CV and a two-door body ready for racing. The formula could not have been more successful, and although it never prevailed over the Ferraris of the time ... It is undeniable that the Lancia Aurelia GT is a racing classic from the 50s. A very successful model with about 3800 units manufactured over 7 years and 6 series. Having seen the beginnings… Let's go back to the XNUMXst century.
"HOW DO YOU THINK PURISTS WILL FEEL ABOUT THE AURELIA 'OUTLAW'?"
This always dangerous question is the one that, according to Thornley Kelham herself, weighed the most during the conception of the Aurelia "Outlaw”. Something that came when a client fascinated by the restoration they had done of the Bracco Series I proposed to them do something special with a Series 6. This one had been found in a very good condition inside a warehouse, but taking it to the factory aspect was not in the mind of its owner.
Far from it, they took a risk with this series of modifications that, although they have not respected the original state of the car, they have created something very personal as well as involved with the history of the Aurelia thanks to the clear nod to that exit from the Panamericana. And boy, we don't just say it ... "It is a very apt and realistic car that Gianni Lancia could have built for a friend".
Words mentioned by the son of Francesco de Virgilio, designer of the V6 that powers the Aurelia and considered true "father”Of the model. Not a bad reference, right? Especially when the modifications have gone way beyond the simple body line.
NEW MECHANICS, BUT ALWAYS LANCIA
Although the 6 Series mounted an evolution of Virgilio and Jano's V6 stretched to 2 liters, the guys at Thornley Kelham have replaced the original engine with that of a later Flaminia. The mechanics of this model from the late 50s were stretched from 2 to 5 liters, also taking its transmission to give the Aurelia a greater push "r".
In addition to changing its heart, mechanical modifications amount to about 30, incorporating a injection system, negative camber axles for better cornering stability, lowered suspensions, brake discs instead of the original drum ... A whole technical panoply that is complemented by the seats of a Porsche 356 Speedster and 15-inch alloy wheels in the style of the Jaguar D-Type.
With all these changes you can see that the term "restoration”Is not exactly the right fit. In the end the large number of modifications have made the original Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series VI something completely new. Of course, returning to that question about "How would the purists take it"... Let them take it however they want. We believe that it is almost impossible not to take your hat off to the “Outlaw” that Thornley Kelham has devised. Either way, for us it is pure Lancia.