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  Lancia D50      

  Article Image gallery (36) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1954 - 1955
Numbers built:6 (of which 2 survived)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:February 05, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter the Second World War Lancia engaged in an unprecedented assault on the tracks, with highly advanced racing cars. Although founding father Vincenzo Lancia was an avid racer, his company concentrated on building innovative road cars, leaving the racing to the likes of Maserati and Alfa Romeo. His son, Gianni, could not resist the thrills of racing and appointed Vittorio Jano to design a sportscar for Lancia. While at Alfa Romeo, Jano had designed some of the finest racing cars ever constructed and in his new job he did not disappoint.

Lancia's pioneering V-engines found their way on the V6 engined racers like the B20 Aurelia GT car and the D23/4 sportscar. Combining Jano's engineering expertise and the advantages of the V-engine, these cars were immediately competitive. A final step was taken with the introduction of Lancia's first ever Grand Prix car in 1954. In good Lancia and Jano tradition, the new 'D50' Formula 1 racer was unlike anything else on the grid at its debut in the Spanish Grand Prix. Alberto Ascari stunned the gathered crowd and the other competitors by claiming the pole position.

So what exactly had Jano put together? An exceptionally compact racer, with all weight concentrated between the wheels and a very low centre of gravity. The key element of the D50 was the all new DOHC V8 engine, which was shorter than the straight six or eight engines used by Maserati and Mercedes-Benz. Its squarish dimensions also made it possible for the engine to be load bearing part of the spaceframe chassis. The engine was angled at 12 degrees to allow the propshaft to pass left of the driver's seat. Fitted as an integral part of the rear axle was the five speed gearbox, improving the weight balance.

One of the most unusual features of the D50 were the fuel and oil tanks, which were mounted in two big panniers between the wheels. Traditionally the fuel was carried in big tank behind the rear axle. In this location the fuel load affected the handling of the car, which conflicted with Jano's quest for balance. As a side effect, airflow was also improved by the panniers. At the front the D50 was suspended by tubular double wishbones and the rear a common DeDion axle was fitted. Braking was taken care off by four finned and drilled drum brakes.

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  Article Image gallery (36) Specifications