Smallest V4 Ever? 1952 Lancia Ardea

Here’s one that you don’t see at every gas station and/or big-box store parking lot, it’s a 1952 Lancia Ardea and it’s super unique. It’s listed here on eBay with a bid of $1,950 but the reserve isn’t met, of course. It was recently imported from the Motherland – Italy – and is located in New Egypt, New Jersey.

What a profile! It has a bit of an early Rambler American look with the wheelbase being shorter than the wheel openings. You know that I mean no disrespect by this because by now hopefully you’re figured out that I love every single vehicle ever made, but this one looks like a car that a cartoon character would drive, I love it! That’s about the most unique profile that I’ve ever seen, other than my own.

But, this is a beautiful car on most angles and views. The Ardea was made by Lancia from 1939 to 1953 and this is a “4th Series” car. It’s one of 11,700 4th series cars built between 1949 and 1953. This beautiful car is in gorgeous condition and is actually dark blue, not black! Supposedly, the former owner in Italy had two similar cars and he sold this one to the dealer/seller who is listing it here; it “runs and drives beautifully.”

Hagerty lists a value of a 1952 Lancia Ardea in #3 “fair” condition as being $11,300! This car is at least in #4 “good” condition and that value is $15,900, so this one won’t be had for a song. This blue velvet (velour?) interior is in great condition, but it isn’t original, of course. I had pants like that back in the late-70s. I’m not sure why the seller didn’t include an overall photo with the doors open, it seems like it would be a good selling point, or at least a good talking point. The right hand drive configuration was seen as a benefit, or not a drawback, due to being able to see the edge of the road while driving on mountain roads. The seller says that this is a 4-speed manual, but I think it may be a 5-speed, unless it has been changed? The 4-speed wasn’t used after 1948.

There aren’t any good, overall engine photos, but this car, supposedly, has the smallest V4 ever used in a commercially-produced family car. It’s a 903 cc, V4 and by 1949 the power was up to 30 hp! Zinnnng! This really looks like a nice version of a rare car in the US. You would most likely have the only one around. Have you seen a Lancia Ardea before? How about that profile!


  1. RayT Member

    Interesting that the flipper/seller also has a Lancia Appia up for sale with the exact same backstory (“…old gentleman in Brescia, has two others just like this one….”), though I have no doubt this car (and his Appia) were well cared-for.

    An online image search brought up plenty of Ardeas that had their rear wheels centered in the fenders, which would make me check out this one’s underside VERY carefully!

    While I’m something of a Lancia fan, I admit to never having heard of the Ardea. Looks like a sweet little car and, if it’s anything like other tiny Italian cars I’ve experienced, it should be fun to drive. You can rev the daylights out of these things, which is what Italians did with them, and keep all 30 cavalli hard at work!

    At the current price, I’d write the seller a check today, and take my chances with any issues that crop up. But I’m certain this, like almost all the cars I have big eyes for, will go out the door at a substantially higher price.

  2. Fred W.

    Wow- 3/4 view from the front is stunning, but the side profile is something else, even if the wheels were centered! Wheels and tires look oversize for the car from that view.

    • Alex B

      I felt the same about that so I googled the car type for more pictures.
      They are the original rims and wheel sizes so they really look out of proportion.

      The Italians designed some amazing cars, but in my opinion this isn’t one of them.

  3. Dolphin Member

    Lancias were well made, expensive cars (for the time) that were owned by wealthy people in Italy. It wasn’t until the tiny Fiats came along that most regular families could actually have a car. This Ardea might not look too special but it was a very desirable car for the time. In fact pretty much all Lancias were special, at least until they became Fiats, more or less.

    This V4 engine has an interesting cylinder head solution, a one-piece head that covers the cylinders on both banks. Illustration attached.

    These early V-4s weren’t the smoothest running engines, so Lancia had Francesco De Virgilio design the first V-6, for the Aurelia, which was a great little engine. But the tiny V4 served in the smallest Lancias for quite a few years. The V6 design didn’t appear in a production car until the Aurelia in 1950, but the V4 had appeared in production much earlier, one source saying in an 1897 French car by Emile Mors.

    I think anyone showing up at a Lancia club meeting in this Ardea would be certain to get a lot of attention. It looks well kept and should bring good money, and even more in Italy.

    But agree with RayT—-be sure to check the underside and the wheelbase against the specs.

  4. ccrvtt

    The Citroen Traction Avant comes immediately to mind, but this car is just as cool in its own way. Thanks for the picture of the cylinder head.

  5. ClassicCarFan

    Smallest V-4 in car maybe? (that title made me think of the wonderful V-4 motorcycle engines Honda made down to 400cc)

    • Dave Wright

      Those were in line 4’s

      • RC46

        Nope, behold the beautiful VFR400, albeit sold mostly in Europe and Asia, it did indeed have a 400cc V4

      • John

        My Honda ST-1300 is also a V-4.

  6. julian gould

    I bought a flaminia with the rear springs on back-to-front. easily rectified. Worth a look?

  7. Candy man jim

    Hell it may be the wine or maybe I’m just having a vision. But damn a roots blower poking out the top of that her look amazing

  8. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Here’s a photo from the Lancia factory, likely about 1948.

  9. Horse Radish

    For sale by “private seller” (as per listing).
    Completed sales reveal 8 different cars offered since early October, not including the current 2.
    DMV in California (and probably other states as well) would deem anything over 5 cars sold per year to be a dealer.

  10. Peter Atherton

    I actually worked as a salesman for a dealership that had Lancia,among other high end franchises,back in the early ’60’s,and I owned(at various times)a Flavia convertible,a series 2 Appia(my favorite),and a ’67 Flaminia coupe.Despite having nothing but Mercedes for the past 52 years,Lancia remains my alltime favorite make.Wish I could afford another series 2 Appia!There’s a terrific website””from a very talented Lancia Technician in the Pacific Northwest;great photos and views of his projects.Unfortunately,he doesn’t update the site.

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