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Fiat and Lancia and the Mille Miglia

Updated on July 20, 2012
Fiat 1100S MM
Fiat 1100S MM | Source

While only one true Fiat car has won the Mille Miglia with a first place finish (that being the 1948 1100 S MM in 1988), Fiat has always been an integral part of the race itself.

Each year, they enter several original Fiats, as well as cars from their subsidiary companies.

Listing all of their award winning entries would take several dozen pages, so we’ll just say that these include the Alfa Romeo 1928 6C 1500 Super Sport that took the 2007 and 2008 races, and the 1957 Lancia Aurelia B 20 that won the first place at the 1994 race.

Equally important is the role of sponsor Fiat takes every year, providing not only cars and crews, but events surrounding the Mille Miglia.

In 2008, Fiat provided a literal museum on wheels, with eleven Alfa Spider Mille Miglia cars being offered for hire to licensed spectators, all of them fully outfitted with 260 HP 3.2 litre V6 engines and gorgeous black leather interiors.

Vincenzo Lancia
Vincenzo Lancia | Source

Lancia

While the Lancia has only taken two first place trophies in the Mille Miglia, it is nonetheless a brand that owes much of its reputation to the race.

When Lancia founder Vincenzo Lancia passed away, he had left his firm to his widow and teenaged son Gianni Lancia. Gianni was eager to seize upon the opportunity, however, the Second World War soon intervened, and it wasn’t until hostilities ended that he was able to put his plans into work.

He immediately began expansion of the Lancia company, establishing a racing department with the intention of rivalling Ferrari, and hired legendary car designer Vittorio Jano to design new cars and set up a racing program.

It became clear what direction Gianni was taking the company in when he launched the Aurelia in 1950, with an independent suspension and an incredibly compact V6 engine. Lancia’s trademark had always been the small angle V-engine, with the company having pioneered the entire concept of a unitary construction with the body and frame forming a single structural member.

Lancia & Ascari Win Mille Miglia 1954

The legend has it that Vincenzo Lancia got the idea of unit body-chassis from a ship’s hull, which may or may not be true, but regardless, it was a revolutionary concept.

About a year after the Aurelia’s debut, Gianni produced the first competition version, dubbing it the Aurelia B20 GT, with a powerful 2.5 litre engine, this was the first real racing car in the forty five years since the company’s founding.

Lancia Aurelia GT 2500 B20
Lancia Aurelia GT 2500 B20 | Source

The B20 GT found a lot of success in the racing world, taking several major rallies and Le Mans. Still high on this success, Gianni set his sights on the Mille Miglia. The car wound up taking the third spot behind Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, and this would only serve to stoke Gianni’s fire more.

1952 Lancia B20-GT
1952 Lancia B20-GT | Source

The D20 had already been replaced by the D23 with Pinin Farina open bodies when Vittorio Jano was working on a lighter, more powerful Lancia, the Lancia D24, which would go on to seize first place at the Mille Maglia.

Unfortunately, Gianni’s ambition, while it paid off in victories, also cost him his share in the company. He had brought the company to near-bankruptcy and was forced to sell his shares to Ferrari. Still, it remains that it was Gianni’s vision that made the Lancia what it is in Mille Miglia history.


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