Lancia & Co. Fabbrica Automobili was founded on 29 November 1906 in Turin by Fiat racing drivers, Vincenzo Lancia (1881-1937) and his friend, Claudio Fogolin (1872-1945). The first car manufactured by Lancia was the “Tipo 51” or “12 HP” (later called “Alfa”), which remained in production from 1907 to 1908.
In 1937, after Vincenzo died, both his wife, Adele Miglietti Lancia, and his son, Gianni Lancia, took over control of the company. They persuaded Vittorio Jano to join as an engineer. Jano had already made a name for himself by designing various Alfa Romeo models, including some of its most successful race cars ever such as the 6C, P2 and P3. His Lancia D50 design was entered the 1954 Spanish Grand Prix, where Alberto Ascari took the pole position and drove the fastest lap. In the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix, Ascari crashed into the harbour after missing a chicane. The remnants of the Lancia team were transferred to Scuderia Ferrari, where Manuel Fangio won the 1956 Formula One World Championship in a Lancia-Ferrari.
Lancia is renowned in the automotive world for introducing cars with numerous innovations. Lancia premiered the first full-production V6 engine, in the 1950 Aurelia, after earlier industry-leading experiments with V8 and V12 engine configurations. It was also the first manufacturer to produce a V4 engine. Other innovations involved the use of independent suspension in production cars and rear transaxles, which were first fitted to the Aurelia and Flaminia range. This drive for innovation, constant quest for excellence, fixation on quality, complex construction processes and antiquated production machinery meant that all cars essentially had to be hand-made.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Lancia had great success in rallying, winning 11 World Rally Championships. Some of the legendary Lancia motoring successes include the Lancia Zagato, Aurelia, Stratos HF, 037, Delta Integrale and Fulvia.