Historical factual Lancia Lambda information we hope you find interesting:

The car that changed automotive history:

The Lancia Lambda was a very innovative and advanced car in comparison to other models in the early 1920’s. Several pioneered concepts were introduced with this particular Lancia marque, including the load-bearing monocoque body, the use of independent front suspension with shock absorbers and its famous aluminium narrow angled V4 engine with three displacement versions that were all single overhead cams.

Alusil was a hypereutectic alloy developed and patented by Lancia in 1927 from a, combination of aluminium, approximately 78%, and silicon approximately 17%, to replace cast iron pistons with a lighter but still durable product. First used in the Lambda, Alusil is still in use in many modern cars today.

In total, 12998 Lambdas were made and around 500 still exist in the world today.


Three amazing pioneering Australian ladies were associated with the Lambda.

Jean Robertson (1906 – 1981) and Kathleen Howell (1903 – 2001), individually and together broke and set records in the 20’s and 30’s in the motor industry much of it in a Lambda.

Jean Robertson and Kathleen Howell with Jeans’ 7th series tourer [2].

Jean and Kathleen met through a common motoring interest and in March 1927 joined forces to enter the RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria) Dependability Contest in Jean’s new Lambda.  The contest was over 1434 miles and the ladies came in a very respectable 2nd.  John Barber took 1st place in a Lambda with his brother Anthony, also in a Lambda, took fastest time in another class.

On the back of this success the ladies planned an incredible journey from Adelaide to Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney and finally back Melbourne. They were supported in this venture by Shell who provided fuel and oil for the journey. The Lambda was fitted with a heavy steel panel, supplementing the existing engine under-tray, by Shields Motor Company the largest Australian Lancia agent at the time, to protect against sand-hills and rough terrain likely to be encountered on the journey. They left Melbourne in early June 1927 and drove to Adelaide, from there they went north to Darwin using overland telegraph lines as navigational aids when the track disappeared. They continued the journey arriving back in Melborne in September 1927 after 7000 miles of more or less trouble free motoring, bar a few punctures! This outstanding achievment of the first women to drive across Australia, was recognised by Shell who presented the ladies with silver medallions engraved appropriately[3].

The route taken in 1927 [2] Overcoming poor track conditions [2] Somewhere in the outback [2].


1928 saw these astonishing ladies break more records in the Lambda. Jean won a trophy in the RACV’s 24-hour 500-mile Test in May, and in October, once again paired up with Kathleen, they attempted to break the Freemantle to Sydney speed record. Again supported by Shell, they drove from Perth to Adelaide, 1755 miles, in 57hrs 57 mins [4], 5 hrs faster than the previous record. Sadly the flooded Murray River and subsequent car troubles prevented them reaching even Melbourne, but having beaten the Perth to Adelaide record Shell presented them with gold medallions on this occasion [3].

The third pioneering lady Joan Crawford (1905 – 1999), was Australia’s first professional female racing driver, having driven successfully first for Citroen then Riley for several years. Joan had met Jean and Kathleen racing in Aspendale and at a cocktail party Joan threw in 1930 the Monte Carlo rally was discussed with Bertie Beatson the Melbourne Riley factory representative. Riley agreed to provide 3 cars to be driven overland from Australia to the starting point in Palermo Sicily. The Shell Company once again supported the venture but insisted on a ‘chaperone’ for the ladies so Mrs Coldham joined the group along with Pat Maurice as the 6th crew member. The cars were completed and christened at a final party; Joan with Bertie Beatson in “Kookaburra”, Jean and Kathleen in “Bellbird” and Pat Maurice with Mrs. Coldham in “Wattle Bird [3].

They drove to Darwin and, from there, made their way through Malaysia, India, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Europe [4].There were 116 entrants for the 1932 Monte Carlo Rally from 19 starting points, and the 3 Australian Rileys finishing very respectively with Kookaburra 17th, Wattlebird 18th and Bellbird 19th. Riley was delighted that the three cars had completed the rally so well and in such good condition bearing in mind they had been driven from Australia! Cars and crew were shipped to England on completion of the rally for celebration. Jean and Kathleen returned to Australia soon after but Joan stayed on and continued a very successful racing career, much of it at Brooklands [3].

Joan Richmond (driving) and Elsie Wisdom in a Riley at Brooklands 1932 [2]

When the war clouds gathered over Europe in 1939 Joan bought an 8th series Lambda which she used to get to work for De Havilland, motor sport having taken a back seat during the war years. When petrol rationing started to hit, Joan was forced to buy a more economical car, a Fiat, so she garaged the lambda with a friend. Sadly after the war she was unable to locate it and returned to Australia with her mother in 1946 [3].


In 1979 Jean and Kathleen were guests of honour at the 5th Castlemaine rally run by Australian Lancia register. Their modesty was obvious when they were totally surprised that anyone would be at all interested in their past achievements! [3]




Another famous lambda owner was Italian composer Puccini, pictured below in his Lambda [5].






The Lancia badge.


We are all familiar with the family name Lancia and the badge on our cars, but how many of you have looked closely at it? The word Lancia is Italian for lance or spear and this is clearly shown in the familiar badge, as the flag staff superimposed on the steering wheel.






[2] 10/1/19

[3]Bill Jamieson

[4] accessed 10/01/19