This past week I saw a story about a relatively new car museum in the Netherlands, the Louwman Museum. I looked up some further information on that museum and I discovered that they have what is proported to be the only Lancia D23 still in existence. Previously, on Auguest 22, 2011, I had posted some information about the Lancia D24 and D25 models, but I had not mentioned the Lancia D23 model.
The origin of the Lancia D23 goes back to the Lancia B20 GT Aurelia. This was a very successful car.
Bracco Finishing 2nd In a Lancia B20 GT Aurelia at the 1951 Mille Miglia
Bracco then took his Aurelia to the 1951 La Carrera Panamericana. While I have noted that Bracco finished second in the 1951 Mille Miglia in a Lancia, he went on to win the 1952 Mille Miglia while driving a Ferrari.
In addition to the car that Bracco had in the 1951 La Carrera Panamericana, Felice Bonetto was entered in a sister car to the Bracco entry that year. From the Lancia B20 GT Aurelia, Lancia developed the Lancia D20.
Note that the Lancia D20 was a coupe design, while subsequent Lancia racing sports cars were open cars.
Piero Taruffi in a Lancia D20 At The 1953 Targa Florio
At the 1953 Targa Florio Lancia started four Lancia D20 cars. A Lancia D20 driven by Umberto Maglioli won the race and another Lancia D20 driven by Gino Valenzano finished 4th. The other two Lancia D20 cars driven by Bracco and Taruffi were classified as DNF due to accidents.
After a very bad showing at Le Mans, where all of the Lancia D20 cars DNFed and the cars were slower than the Gordinis and Jaguars on the straightaways, Lancia decided to make substantial changes to the D20. The supercharger was removed from the engine and the engine capacity was increased to 3.0 litres and open top bodywork was used. These modified Lancia D20 cars were re-named the Lancia D23.
The Only Remaining Lancia D23 on Display in the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands
If you look carefully at the above image you can see a black & white photo of a Lancia D23 on the wall with car # 50. That is a picture of Giovanni Bracco’s Lancia at the 1953 La Carrera Panamericana.
This Car Has The Same Paint Scheme as the 1953 Monza Car #4
The Lancia D23 debuted at the Monza Grand Prix in 1953. There were two cars entered – Car #2 driven by Froilan Gonzalez DNF’d due to clutch failure while Car #4 driven by Felice Bonetto finished second behind Luigi Villoresi in a Ferrari 250MM.
The Two Lancia D23 Cars Entered in The 1953 Monza Race
The photo below shows the start of the 1953 Monza race with Bonetto getting off to a good start.
Start of the 1953 Monza Race With Bonetto’s Lancia D23 in the Middle and Eventual Winner Villoresi’s #12 Ferrari 250MM to His Right. If You Look Carefully You Can See Gonzalvez’s Car At The Back Of The Grid
Froilan Gonzalvez’s D23 Before DNFing Due to a Clutch
Felice Benetto On His Way To 2nd Place at Monza
Lancia entered two Lancia D24s and one Lancia D23 in the 1953 race at Nurburgring. Fangio/Bonetto shared D24 #4 and Manzon/Taruffi drove the other Lancia D24, while Bracco/Castellotti competed in the lone Lancia D23. This was a poor race for Lancia as all of these cars DNFed due to mechanical woes.
Car #7 Is The Lancia D23 while #5 (Fangio) & #6 (Manzon) Are Lancia D24s At Nurburgring
In November 1953 Lancia entered a five-car team in the La Carrera Panamericana. Juan Manuel Fangio, Piero Taruffi, and Felice Bonetto were provided with Lancia D24 cars. Eugenio Castellotti and Giovanni Bracco were supplied with Lancia D23 models.
Looks Like A Red Painted Lancia D23 Before Being Stickered Up For La Carrera Panamericana
About 250 miles into the fourth leg of the race, Bonetto was entering Silao. While taking a curve at a high rate of speed, his Lancia D24 slid off the road a hit a light post very hard killing Bonetto.
Castellotti Finished Third in the 1953 La Carrera Panamerica in a Lancia D23
At the end of the 1953 La Carrera Panamericana, Lancia finished 1-2-3 with Fangio in first place, Taruffi about 8 minutes behind in second, both in Lancia D24s. Castelotti in the lone finishing Lancia D23 finished in third position. The other Lancia D23 of Bracco was classified as DNF due to the failure of a wheel. However the death of Bonetto certainly ruined any victory celebraton.
Giovanni Bracco’s Lancia D23 After Suffering From a Damaged Wheel At the 1953 La Carrera Panamericana
I am not sure how many Lancia D23 cars ever existed, but I would say that they were decent race cars, with great lines, and they were an important stepping stone for the more successful D24 and D25 models.