The History of Lancia


This is still a major construction site at the moment, I'm afraid.


  In November of 1906 two Italians started a company of their own. Claudio Fogolin and Vincenzo Lancia worked for Fiat before (in 1906 Vincenzo was only 25 years and already an experienced engineer and racing driver). After a couple of years of hard work, experimenting and bad luck (in 1907 their factory burned down, due to an accident) the first success was born : the Alpha model (more than 100 sold in 1908-1910).

This is the story of Lancia, almost 90 years in business, a car manufacturer with many fans all over the world, since their cars have that little something, that's hard to explain, but that will always be something special, spectacular and innovating.

Vincenzo Lancia was bron in 1881, his father earned quite a lot of money by producing and selling soup. Vincenzo was a dreamer and an adventurer. When he grew up, he became a hard worked, an opera lover (Wagner) and one the wildest and fasters car-drivers of his time. In his teens, Vincenzo studied at the Torino technical school, he wanted to become an accountant. His family had a house in Torino (in which they lived during the winters) of which a part was rented to the Ceirano brothers. They produced cycles under the name Welleyes. At a certain date, these two brothers also started manufacturing a small car with the same name. Young Vincenzo was impressed with what he saw in Ceirano's workshop. There he found his inspiration and suddenly he knew what he wanted to be. He persuaded his father to allow him to give up his accounting career and he began to work in the Ceirano's workshop. Helped by Ceirano's main engineer, Faccioli, Lancia became a mechanic and technical designer. Lancia's name became well know in Torino because of his skills : finding and solving defects with any kind of car or bike on the Italian roads. In 1899 Ceirano's car company was taken over by Fiat. Fortunatelly, Lancia's name was also well known to Giovanni Agnelli of Fiat. Despite his age Vincenzo became head of a department at Fiat.

During the years at Fiat, Vincenzo became envolved in racing. Fiat had noticed that car-racing could be a great way of advertising and formed their own racing team. They wanted the best drivers available and the got them : Lancia, Nazzarro, Cagno and Storero. Nazzarro, with his feeling for precision and techniques, became the constistent driver. Lancia, who crashed an occasion car, became the fastest. Vincenzo raced for just 10 years, he quit after setting the new speed record with a car he designed himself.

Two years earlier, Vincenzo and his partner Claudio Fogolin started their own company. Their capital investment was 50.000 Italian Lira. In 1908 the Model 51, later named 18-24hp and finally Alpha left the front gate of the company. The 4 cylinder 2.5 liter engine of the Alpha produced 28 hp at 1800 revs. It's top speed was 90 km/h. The Alpha was an immediate success and Lancia was on the lookout for a new, bigger plant.

Maintainer: Andrew Cliffe
Last update: 1st April 2001