Rare Find: 1959 Lancia Appia Vignale Convertible

 

The Lancia Appia Vignale Convertible was offered in two forms, a 2-seater, and a later 2+2 version. This car is one of the latter, and while it looks dusty and dirty, it is also a solid and complete car that is ripe for restoration. This rare little Lancia is located in Southampton, New York, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the listing to open at $19,995, but there are no bids to this point. This is an auction where a single bid could secure the car for the next owner because the Appia is being offered for sale with No Reserve.

The Appia first saw the light of day as a sedan in 1953. In 1956, Lancia commissioned a number of coachbuilders to create prototypes in various configurations. A total of 14 prototypes were produced, and Lancia chose Pininfarina to build the Coupe version, while Vignale was commissioned to produce the Convertible. These companies produced these variants on Appia chassis that were supplied by Lancia, with the completed cars then sold through Lancia dealerships. The Vignale Convertible was initially available as a 2-seater only, but in 1959, a 2+2 version was also released. With our feature car being a 1959 2+2 version, that makes it an early example of what was a fairly rare vehicle. The first piece of positive news with this classic Lancia is that while there is some surface corrosion present on the underside of the car, it appears to be solid, and free of any rust issues. The second piece of good news and this is pretty significant given the car’s relative rarity, is that not only does it appear to be complete, but it looks like every aspect of the body and trim could be restored without having to source replacement parts. It’s also worth noting that the car is fitted with a hardtop, and these items alone are quite difficult to find. It isn’t clear whether there is a soft-top, or even a frame, included with the car. Hopefully, there is at least a frame, because these are another item that can be quite hard to find.

The interior of the Lancia is the source of both good and bad news. It does appear to be complete, and the leather seat upholstery looks like it is actually in quite good condition. The dash itself looks complete and original, but the pad is very badly cracked. Sadly, the beautiful timber on the wheel rim has delaminated as well, although it might not be beyond restoration. The upholstery on the door trims has deteriorated, and if replacement items can’t be located, then it might come down to the skills of a really good upholsterer to rectify this, along with a couple of other minor trim issues. New carpet will also need to go on the shopping list, so there is a bit of work required inside the car.

Powering the Appia is a 1,089cc twin-cam V4 engine, producing 54hp. This power is sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission. Once again, there is some positive news, because the drive-train of the Lancia is complete, and the engine is said to turn freely. The other piece of good news is that mechanical components for the Convertible are fairly easy to source because the vast majority of these are shared with the Appia sedan. With such a low power output, an Appia Convertible, which tips the scales at 2,094lbs, is not a fast car. These take around 18 seconds to accelerate from 0-60mph, around 21 seconds to cover the ¼ mile and have a declared top speed of 89mph. Of course, with two adults up front and a couple of children in the small rear seat, those times are going to be blunted even further. Still, it might not be fast, but that wonderful little V4 engine does sound rather sweet with a few revs on board, so at least it will sound the part.

The Appia Vignale Convertible is a relatively rare car, but just how rare it is can actually be quite hard to determine. The Convertible was built in the previously mentioned two forms between 1957 and 1962. A total of 1,584 cars were built during this period, but it isn’t clear how many of each type were built, and how many cars were produced in each model year. Even without that information, the car could be considered to be a rare one, especially outside its native Italy. The opening bid for the listing for this car is quite high, but the physical condition of the car also appears to be extremely solid. The relative rarity of these little cars is definitely reflected in their values and sales results. These are not a car that comes on the market in the USA terribly often, and depending on condition, a solid and running example can fetch over $40,000, while an immaculate car can easily bring $65,000. Even if the next owner does manage to secure the car with a single bid, that would seem to leave plenty of room to move on a restoration that would still make sound financial sense.

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Comments

  1. Will Fox

    A beautiful and rare Lancia for sure. I took this to be a 2-seater I guess, due to that elongated deck; it gives the appearance there is no back seat when viewing it from the side. I agree this deserves a full restoration; produced in far too few numbers/survivors not to. However, if it were mine, I’d change the color. That powder blue just doesn’t accentuate this car very well.It needs a metallic.

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  2. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Looks a little lopsided with a long trunk and short hood — the opposite of most sports cars. Looks like it took its styling cues from first year Thunderbird and Maserati. This is an auction where a single bid could secure the car for the next owner — but $5 shy of $20k is about the same as putting a reserve on it. Good luck to the pairing of seller and a new owner.

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  3. Wayne

    Given the pedigree, and rarity, as well as the build quality and engineering involved in the production of this car, I think the price is fair when you consider the value of Flaminia’s, and Aurelia’s available. Having said that, I would probably wait for a nice Appia 4 door myself if I was in the position to buy one. I envy the person with the financial fortitude to buy, and restore this lovely car, as a Lancia is definitely a bucket list car for me, either the aforementioned Appia 4 door, or a nice Fulvia. Good luck to all involved.

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  4. Larry Tate

    I’ll bet that little body is sleek as a Greyhound with the top removed. Not as fast as a Greyhound, literally, but just as beautiful. It is quite a find!

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    • Will Fox

      Given the engine specs listed, I’m surprised owners didn’t have to get out & push. What a gutless little wonder.

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  5. Danh

    Viva Lancia!!

    1
  6. stillrunners

    How neat is that !

    • BJ

      Is it just me or what, if you squint a little at the side on view does it look similar to a Triumph Herald with a shorter roof and a longer tail ??

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  7. blackcat

    Looks like a good candidate for restoration. The engineering and craftsmanship on these is, like all old Lancia, exquisite.

    The air cleaner on this one is incorrect, so an interested party should check to make sure she still has the correct and rare original Weber carb which differs from those on the sedans. And hopefully that hanging side mirror is in good shape: it is an intricate piece with a pivot, and finding a replacement could be a challenge. The hard top is a plus, but as noted, these have a hard time getting out of their own way.

    I sold one in a similar state about three years ago. With mine, the engine was in pieces and she didn’t have a hardtop, but she did go with an extra transmission and an extra windshield, and was structurally sound being a California car. She only brought $7k on eBay which was the exact amount of the reserve. ‘Hated to let her go, but had too many project cars and couldn’t provide her with proper ongoing storage so it was best for the car to pass her to a caretaker who could move her forward.

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  8. Martin Horrocks

    Be in no doubt, this car is very rare (especially with the hard top) and very desirable (if you like that sort of thing). Price is what it is, condition looks good for a rebuild and you are in “Find another” territory, so can be considered realistic. Mechanical parts no problem, other parts can be found if needed, but not easy and expensive.

    As Will Fox comments, Appias (like most Lancias) do not deliver the power that they should. Lancisti will tell you that they deliver sophistication and charm which translate into a superior driving experience.

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  9. Angrymike

    I like it, they say “it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast, then a fast car slow” so this would be fun !

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  10. Ralph

    What you buy if you want a 55 Thunderbird, but you hate American cars……

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  11. T-Bone Bob

    The car has received a bid. So, unless the bidder flakes out, it will go to a new home.

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