Lancia and Alfa Romeo stars of the “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014”

June 19, 2014 By Mike Lee
Last updated on August 6, 2015
  • From 20 to 22 June the tribute to the historic Castell’Arquato–Vernasca time trial reserved to racing cars built between the start of the century and 1972
  • The 2014 edition is dedicated to Lancia‘s legendary cars, here represented by four official models: the D50 Formula 1 single-seater, the Fulvia Coupé HF 1600, the Stratos Alitalia Gruppo 4 and the world’s one example of a D25 Sport
  • Also competing, two splendid cars from the Alfa Romeo Museum: theGiulia SS of 1963 in its début in an official event and the 2000 Sportiva(1954) which recently took part in the Mille Miglia 2014

20 to 22 June will see the “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014”, a tribute to the historic Castell’Arquato–Vernasca time trial which ran from 1953 to 1972. Gone is the stopwatch of yesteryear: today’s event is in the form of a “dynamic preservation and restoration competition” – the cars parade on roads closed to traffic at a limited speed – reserved to racing cars built between the start of the twentieth century and 1972.

Organised by the Club Piacentino Automotoveicoli d’Epoca (“Piacenza Historic Motor Car Club”), this year’s “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014” is dedicated to the Lancia brand and its glorious sporting past, which reached its zenith in the 1950s – with the legendary D24, D25 and D50 driven in the World Constructors’ Championship and Formula 1 – and 1970s/1980s, when the Fulvia HF, Stratos and Delta became the cars to beat in rallying, repeatedly picking up victories and World Championship titles.

To represent these two dazzling periods of the brand’s history, the Lancia Collection is taking part in the “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014” with four invaluable models: the Formula 1 Lancia D50, the legendary Lancia Fulvia HF 1600 with the number 14, the captivating Lancia Stratos Alitalia Gruppo 4 and the world’s one example of a Lancia D25 Sport.

In detail, the Formula 1 Lancia D50 is one of the eight single-seaters built for the 1954 World Championship – the one competing is Villoresi’s car – before going to the Scuderia Ferrari, which in 1955 won the title with Fangio, thus confirming that the Lancia Racing Team was on the right track. A truly innovative F1 car for the period, the D50 adopts an eight-cylinder V engine fitted transversely, allowing the propeller shaft to pass next to the seat rather than under it, lowering the car’s centre of gravity and improving stability. The rear gearbox is transverse, while the characteristic side tanks improve aerodynamics and permit weight distribution to be maintained from the beginning to the end of the race.

Spotlights are also trained on the second Lancia at the “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014”, a genuine rarity: it’s the world’s one existing example of the Lancia D25 Sport. The car, in perfect working order, was prepared to enable Alberto Ascari to take part in the 1955 Carrera Panamericana, but the tragic death of the Milanese driver on the Monza circuit and the unexpected decision of the Mexican government to cancel the organisation of the race meant that the car left the workshops heading directly for the Lancia Museum.

The official Lancia team is completed by two rally cars – the Fulvia Coupé HF 1600 and Stratos Alitalia Gruppo 4 – which added to Lancia’s extraordinary trophy collection for this type of competition: six consecutive Manufacturers’ World Championships, five Drivers’ World Championships, 46 outright victories out of 66 world competitions in which they took part, plus countless successes in national races.

Distinguished by the number 14, the competing Lancia Fulvia Coupé HF 1600 is the very car that won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1972 with the Munari–Mannucci crew crushing valiant competition from Porsche and Alpine Renault cars. Its performance was a decisive factor in Lancia winning the FIA Cup, that is, the World Rally Championship.

The Lancia Stratos Alitalia Gruppo 4 at Vernasca is legendary too. It won various competitions, including the Rally de Portugal of 1976, as well as second place in the 1977 Monte Carlo Rally. Specially designed for rallies, and with only 500 models built (the requisite number for type-approval), the Stratos HF is a small saloon designed by Bertone and fitted centrally with Dino Ferrari’s V6 engine. In the Stratos HF, Lancia has a trump card, an ace up its sleeve that earns it three world victories in a row: 1974, 1975 and 1976.

No less valuable are the two cars from the Alfa Romeo Museum that will be taking part in the “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014”: the 2000 Sportiva (1954) and1963 Giulia SS. The first recently took part in the Mille Miglia 2014 and is a unique piece, characterised by a particular metallic grey livery. The 2000 Sportiva is an exclusive gran turismo with an enthralling and dynamic line that, from a mechanical point of view, traces its origins to the 1900 with the addition of a rear “De-Dion” tube (a solution to be found twenty years later on the Alfetta saloon) and equipped with a 4-cylinder, twin-shaft, 2-litre engine with a power of 138 HP, which propelled it to a great speed for the time: 220 km/h.

The “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014” will also see the participation of the 1963 Giulia SS, its début in an official event. Presented at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963, the car replaced the “Giulietta”, keeping the name “Sprint Speciale”. The model was equipped with the 1570 cc engine of the Giulia with 112 HP, allowing it to reach a top speed of 200 km/h. In fact, the top speed remained similar, while there were improvements to the torque, performance at low engine speeds and the overall driveability of the car. The first 200 adopted drum brakes, while the others featured a disc braking system. Production came to an end in 1965 at 1,400 units.

Both designed by Franco Scaglione – the same artist who created the “Giulietta Sprint” and the “33 Stradale” – the two competing vehicles are ambassadors for the brand’s many sports victories: in total, Alfa Romeo’s trophy collection boasts 102 victories, including 5 World Championships, 11 Mille Miglia (an unbeaten record), 10 Targa Florio, 4 “Le Mans 24 Hour”, 13 European Touring Championships and 9 Manufacturers’ Championships.

The public at the “Vernasca Silver Flag 2014” can touch these extraordinary Lancia and Alfa Romeo cars in the open paddock, as well as see them in action for 9 kilometres, climbing and winding their way to the finish line at Vernasca. And this is the secret of the event which every year brings together admiring, enthusiastic spectators, confirming that these cars still arouse strong emotions, even among the youngest in the crowd that packs out the route with wonder in their eyes.