Finally completed after extensive restoration, and as unique as it was intended to be, the Lancia Astura Steady Special was unveiled on the Motor Sport magazine stand at Race Retro 2015.
British designer and International Guild of Specialist Engineers President Tony Southgate took the covers off the 1934 Lancia, on public display in its final configuration and complete after a four-year restoration.
Legendary road test driver and columnist Ronald “Steady” Barker, who sadly passed away last month, acquired the Lancia over sixty years ago, and is rumoured to have driven it to his interview with Autocar in 1955; he wrote about it in Motor Sport magazine and also raced it after shortening the chassis, giving it a lighter sportscar shell and a DB2 bonnet.
The Lancia’s current owner, classic car enthusiast, Guild of International Engineering Specialists founder and long-term friend of Steady’s, Michael Scott, embarked in the complicated process of restoring the car back in 2011.
“It wasn’t easy,” says Michael. “Here we had a car that was crying out to be restored, but also the legacy of sketches drawn by Steady some sixty years ago, illustrating how he imagined the Lancia should look.”
Traditional skills and state-of-the-art technology were utilised by specialists Thornley Kelham and 3D Engineers as the project started with full restoration, including engine, suspension, gearbox and brakes; an all-aluminium body was fabricated; the famous, original 3.0 narrow-angle V8 Lancia engine was restored by specialist Tim Samway.
The Steady Special was then delivered to “For The Love Of Cars” TV presenter Ant Anstead, who runs a bespoke car manufacturing company, Evanta, and his business partner Stewart Imber, owner of Themed Garages, for the final stages and completion.
“When Michael approached us about this project, we set about creating a car which would not only make him happy, but also make Steady proud. We wanted to complete a car which would be unique and remembered for what it stands for: a piece of British and Italian history and engineering,” says Stewart.
The front end of the car was modified by spinning the headlamps in aluminum and setting into the body of the car, with a very ‘40s, Bugatti-style look; the aluminium spare wheel cover was also spun to exact fit; a new fuel tank was fabricated, and the fuel neck was made run through the wheel cover (with a wheel spinner as the fuel cap).
Marchal-period lamps were fitted behind the grill, the radiator grill was de-chromed and aged, and period badges were fitted to the grill.
Further work included producing a complete, distressed-leather interior for the car, and a bespoke wiring loom. All period dials sourced were restored into working condition. An ignition starter was fitted, as well as a klaxon horn. The side-exhaust is also bespoke. A period rear number plate was made and a GB badge with original RAC logo sourced; the aero screen, on the driver’s side, fitted onto the newly-moulded scuttle. Even the rear mirror is bespoke.
Themed Garages and Evanta also completed the bodywork, finished in original, period ‘Indigo’ colour.
“In a way, Michael Scott was the best and the worst of our clients,” laughs Ant Anstead. “He gave a brief, but did not breathe down our necks, require mid-way visits, or even choose the colour. We could press on, free to work on the car at our speed and following our interpretation of the client’s wishes. It was scary, at times, as we were navigating completely unchartered territory, but we appear to have fulfilled our brief!”