Entrepreneur and vintage car connoisseur Prahlad Agarwalla shares the tale of his 1928 Lancia Dilambda
How did you acquire this 1928 Lancia Dilambda?
This car was purchased by my grandfather and came into our family long before my birth. During those days we had several American and European cars at our ancestral home in Salanpur, near Asansol. Later my grandfather and father sold off those cars but retained this one since I had a special liking for it.
I always found myself drawn towards this car.
So did you drive it often during those days?
Oh no, I was too young to drive this car at that time and soon after that the car was grounded. It remained grounded for over 30 years and finally in 2006 we brought it to Kolkata.
What was the condition of the car when you brought it to Kolkata?
The car was in pretty bad shape and required extensive restoration. The entire wooden structure had to be refabricated and the engine and other mechanical parts had to be completely overhauled.
Who restored the car and how long did the restoration process take?
Renowned restorer Sanjay Ghosh restored the car and it took nearly two years to complete the restoration.
What were the major impediments while restoring this car?
Firstly, very little information was available about the Lancia Dilambda. So getting hold of authentic information prior to the restoration was a big challenge. Secondly, getting spare parts were next to impossible and therefore almost all the spares had to be fabricated by the restorer. It wasn’t easy to restore this car but Sanjay Ghosh has done a fine job.
What is the most special thing about the car?
Well this is a pretty rare car and to the best of my knowledge it is the only Lancia Dilambda Sports car in Asia. You know I have received innumerable offers to sell it off but have turned all of them down. I am extremely attached to this car and never want to part with it.
Fact File: 1928 Lancia Dilambda
One day Vincenzo Lancia found himself on a ship in a monstrous sea. Seeing the ship’s hull fighting the demonic waves he stated that a car should be as firm and strong as the hull. This wet experience and the idea of the ship’s hull inspired Vincenzo to develop a car with a unitary bodywork structure. This gave birth to the Lancia Lambda which was presented to the public in the year 1922. This was the first car ever built with a unitary body structure.
Mechanically the Lancia Lambda was also far ahead of the contemporary competitors. The car featured a unique V4 engine with twin overhead camshafts, independent front suspension and brakes all round. The Lancia Lambda was extensively tested in the Alpes. The light car with stiff bodywork and powerful engine proved to be blessed with excellent road holding capabilities.
The Lambda was built with several bodywork variant until 1931 as it was succeeded by the Lancia Dilambda which was produced by Lancia between 1928 and 1935. The car was officially presented in Paris Motor Show in 1929. Overall, there were three generations built between 1928 and 1935. The car has 4 litre 8 cylinder engine with 24 degree V angle. 1104 cars were manufactured as part of the first generation Dilambda which was produced between 1928 and 1931. 300 cars were part of the second generation which was produced between 1931 and 1933. This generation had modified gearbox and brakes. And 281 cars were built as part of the third generation and produced between 1933 and 1935. This generation had modified chassis for more aerodynamic style and was built with longer wheelbase.