I was most interested to read your enthralling description of a run across France in an E-type. You do, however, state that this car falls down as a Grand Touring car because of the inadequacy of its petrol tankage. To my mind there is a far more serious shortcoming even than that.
During the Grand Tour there must come a time when even the most ardent of Grand Tourists will want a change from eating up roads at 120 m.p.h. They would be morons if they didn’t. They might, for instance, want to play golf, or paint or indulge in serious photography or do the hundred and one things that require the transport of junk. They might even want to carry a temporary passenger. How sad it is that the E-type should concede so little in this respect.
In the Aurelia, Lancias offered a type of Grand Tourer car that could be usefully copied by manufacturers even today. With an overall length of only 14 ft. 4 in., its capacity for swallowing luggage is quite phenomenal, added to which it will also carry two occasional extra passengers. As a 2 1/2-litre car it is slow by British standards, which set such a premium on high paper maximum speeds. Even with the two Weber carburetters it is doubtful whether it will exceed 115 m.p.h., and this fact, plus its high initial cost, has earned it scant respect in this country except by the people who own it. The motoring journals have hardly ever mentioned it. (But MOTOR SPORT published a full and enthusiastic road-test report on the Lancia B20 in 1956. – ED.)
Yet the fact remains that this extraordinary little car seems to thrive indefinitely and without attention on cruising speeds of anything up to 100 m.p.h. With a superb floor gear change and Lancia road-holding, Continental averages in the sixties are easy and remarkably free from strain and the car never loses its tune or its sweetness of running.
My own Aurelia now shows 35,000 miles on its clock. It still wears its original set of Michelin “X”s. It still uses no oil between one oil change and the next. As far as replacements go it did have a new crown-wheel and pinion, but this was due to the ministrations, or lack of them, by a so-called Lancia Expert who drained the rear unit and then forgot to fill it up again – hardly the fault of the car! Apart from that, all that has been necessary to fit is one new prop.-shaft nipple, price 1s. 6d.
I had high hopes of the E-type when first it was rumoured. It would have been nice to own a British car. But now for a whole variety of reasons it would seem that the Aurelia is going to remain my conception of a Grand Touring car for some long time to come.
(This is much the kind of G.T. car I had in mind when I wrote last month’s Editorial. – ED.)