The car that Greta Garbo drove
In the 365 Oldtimer Museum, the wonders of German car manufacturing will be capturing the hearts of visitors these weeks, but it’s also worth following us on the various social media sites, because after the German weeks there will be a change of theme and in time Italian cars will also be on the scene. For now, let’s take a trip to Italy in the 1920s and 1930s and discover the early days of one of Italy’s most famous car brands and an early luxury car!
The Lancia Dilambda, or the Italian V8, was a luxury car model of the Turin-based Lancia manufacturer in the 1920s. It was built in several versions, with a total of 1,685 examples built between 1928 and 1935. Top speed was between 120 and 130 km/h, which was very fast at the time. The 4-litre V8 engine under the bonnet produced 101 hp. It had rear-wheel drive, which was common for its time. The design of the car allowed for both right- and left-hand drive. The magazines of the time praised the car’s easy handling despite its large dimensions.
After the start of the Lancia company (1906), it also produced cars, trucks, military vehicles and aircraft engines, and the latter providing valuable experience in the design and manufacture of V-type engines.
The Dilambda project started in 1926, when Vincenzo Lancia dreamt up a successor to the Trikappa, produced by Lancia between 1922 and 1925, which was the company’s first V8 design and a true luxury car. The Dilambda was inspired by another Lancia model, the Lambda. The prefix “Di” was then used to indicate the more advanced versions of the models. By 1928, the Dilambda had a chassis design. This chassis was unrivalled in its time for its robustness and rigidity, with independent front suspension.
The Dilambda was first intended to conquer the American market, and in 1928 the first prototypes were built and exhibited at the New York Show, but they failed to win the hearts of the American public. Then the manufacturer turned to the European market. The Dilambda finally made its debut at the 1929 Paris Motor Show.
The car was produced in three series, with different model numbers and wheelbases, and the newer series had improvements to the braking system, gearbox, differential and aerodynamics, among other things. The figures for the number of units produced are only approximately accurate, but it is certain that nearly 1 700 Dilambdas were produced between 1929 and 1935, which does not seem a very large number, but it should be borne in mind that the car’s introduction coincided with the difficult economic period following the Wall Street crash, and luxury was not affordable by many at such a time, making the price of the car almost prohibitive.
The Lancia Dilambda was a big favourite with the stars of the 1930s, with Greta Garbo and Ernest Hemingway among the many who owned the car.
Lancia mainly built the chassis of its cars and entrusted the bodywork to Italian and foreign coachbuilders, such as Cesare Sala, Castagna and Weymann, and interestingly, the famous Pininfarina, who started his coachbuilding workshop at this time, and it was the production of the Dilambda Cabriolet version that later made his name. Incidentally, Lancia had a minor interest in Pininfarina’s company, so the collaboration was even closer.
So despite its short production run, the Lancia Dilambda left a deep mark on the classic car era, so much so that it is still highly regarded by car enthusiasts today.

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