THE LANCIA “AUGUSTA **
A SMALL ITALIAN CAR POSSESSING THE COMFORT AND GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A MUCH LARGER VEHICLE.
ALTHOUGH the 11.9 h.p. Lancia ” Augusta ” was first Shown at Olympia in 1932 it was not until quite recently that a batch of these cars was introduced to this country by the sole Concessionaires, Lancia (England), Ltd., of Alperton, London. Being confirmed admirers of the famous Italian marque, and hearing most favourable reports of this particular model’s general performance, we therefore gladly accepted an invitation to become better acquainted with the ” Augusta ” by means of a week-end road test.
. When we left the Lancia Works the weather conditions were as bad as they Could be, for the first rain for many weeks was falling on to grease-laden roads, and the result was a mild imitation of the renowned bus-drivers’ skiddingground, “Slippery Sam.” As with all Lancias, however, we immediately felt completely at home, and the whole car responded accurately to every instinctive move. A friend was following us in a low-built car well known for its roadholding qualities, and it was not until we noticed that he was nowhere in sight, and until be drew up to where we stood waiting for him demanding ” What’s all the hurry about ? ” that we fully realised the astonishing performance Of the “Augusta.”
On the open road the car is equally enjoyable to drive. 50 m.p.h. is a comfortable cruising speed, and this gait can be maintained on a winding road without discomfort to the passengers. The car has that elusive degree of weightdistribution, springing and steering that encourage the driver to indulge in the fastest cornering possible, merely for the sake of correcting and holding incipient “slides.” This unusual controllability is the result of a combination of different features of design. In the first place, complete rigidity has been gained by making the chassis and body-frame in one. This is particularly noticeable when a curve is taken fast on a road with
long undulations in the surface. Small cars of normal construction are apt to flex alarmingly under such treatment, but the Lancia never deprives its driver of security and control. The second feature is the independent springing of the front wheels which has been characteristic of all Lancias since the ” Lambda ” was first introduced a decade ago. This suspension damps out practically all inequalities in the road surface, and is particularly effective on really rough stretches. In addition, there is a complete absence of rolling at the front, even when an adverse road-camber is negotiated at speed. The steering of the Lancia ” Augusta calls for some comment. it is of the kind best known as ” live ; that is to
say, every movement of the front wheels is conveyed by a faint tremor to the driver’s hands.
The Lancia. ” Augusta ” will do an honest 70 m.p.h., at which speed the engine does not show the slightest signs of stress. When one remembers that the engine capacity is only’ 1,184 c.c. and that the body accommodates four people in complete comfort, this maximum speed is seen to be very creditable. The general ” feel ” of the car is certainly that of a 2-litre job rather than an eleven-hundred. The gear-change is one of the best we have ever encountered on any car, regardless of size or type. First-to-second requires an infinitesimal pause, but second-to-third and third-to-top can be made instantaneously, even when maximum ” revs.” have been reached on the lower gears. The gear-lever itself is a massive chromium-plated tube, typical of the sturdy construction of the car.
The power-unit is extremely willing, and deals with the fully-laden car without fuss or flagging. The acceleration is brisk and entirely free from flat spots in the carburation. The engine is of the usual Lancia ” narrow-vee ” construction, with overhead camshaft operated by a silent roller-chain. Not the least important advantage of this V-type engine is the increased amount of body-space available without having to resort to overhang at the rear. Indeed the engine looks astonishingly small and compact underneath the large bonnet. An unusual form of engine mounting is used, consisting of laminated springs and shock absorbers. The system is most efficient, for it would be difficult to find a smoother engine at 50 m.p.h., even in the six-cylinder field.
The brakes of the ” Augusta ” are Lockheed hydraulic, and long mountainpass descents have been provided for by the use of large aluminium drums with cooling vanes. The modern whim of free-wheeling has been studied, and a handle on the dash-board operates the device in the usual way. The facia-board, by the way, will appeal to all who like their motor-cars to be something more than travelling drawing-rooms. No panel is used, but the chromium-plated controls and accessories are neatly arranged on the black dashboard in such a fashion as to give the appearance of absolute mechanical efficiency. The Lancia ” Augusta,” then, is a car which will appeal strongly to those who take a keen interest in their motors and motoring. It is beautifully designed and constructed, and will give unfailing service for many years. On the performance side, it is a joy to drive and will get the better of faster cars on an ordinary give-and-take road. When motor-car manufacturers are turning more and more to massproduction methods, and the cars themselves are consequently losing the separate personalities which were so noticeable to enthusiastic motorists a few years ago, it is satisfying to be reminded that a few manufacturers, at least, are not giving up the careful design and manufacture on which their reputations have been based. In the van of these is Lancia, and when we say that the “
Augusta” is a worthy product of the Turin factory, discerning motorists will have been told enough.