„Long live the revolutionary spirit!”
The design of the D50 was master-minded by Vittorio Jano with revolutionary innovations to cope with the new rules imposed on Grand Prix racing. Among its characteristic features were a transaxle that lowered the center of gravity significantly, a light-weight compact V8 engine with a 90° cylinder angle and four overhead camshafts, and aerodynamically-shaped pannier fuel tanks. To get the drive shaft, which was rotating in concert with the crankshaft revolution, to bypass the driver cabin, the engine was tilted off the longitudinal axis by 12° to the left. The gearbox was mounted transversally just in front of the de Dion rear axle. These were ground-breaking features that made the D50 one of a kind.
Lancia´s ambitious Formula One project soon caught the attention of big shots in the racing world. Alberto Ascari, a two-time world champion from the years before signed to drive for Lancia. Luigi Villoresi, another outstanding driver, joined the Lancia team. In 1955, more well-known pilots were added to the team, including Eugenio Castellotti.
On Oct. 24, 1954, the Lancia D50 made its debut at the last event of the racing season – the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Alberto Ascari took pole position in qualifying and accomplished the fastest race lap with 2.18 min, but a clutch failure forced him to retire in the 9th of the 80 laps. The revolutionary spirit started gloriously, but it came to an abrupt end – at least for that season.
No other Lancia automobile had ever caused such an emotional stir in competition and among the public, not to mention its lasting impact on the company’s fortunes. With the demise of Alberto Ascari shortly afterwards, the costs from the development of the D50 and the pursuit of victories in prestigious Grand Prix racing proved to be too much for Gianni Lancia to bear.
The racing team, together with the D50 fleet, was handed over to Enzo Ferrari in 1955, and Lancia's motorsport activities were discontinued for almost a decade.
Technical Data of the original Vehicle
• Monoposto built on a tubular frame with free-standing wheels
• 2.5-litre V8 engine as a stressed member of the chassis
• Two valves per cylinder controlled by two overhead camshafts
• Dry sump oil lubrication
• Mixture preparation with four Solex PII double carburettors
• Dual ignition (two plugs per cylinder)
• Five-speed manual gearbox installed behind the driver
Bore x stroke: 73.6 x 73.1 mm
Displacement: 2,488 cc
Maximum output: 260 HP at 8,000 rpm
Top speed: 300 Km/h (depending on ratio)
Wheelbase: 2,280 mm
Track front/rear: 1,294 / 1,330 mm
Total length: 3,570 mm
Total width: 1,600 mm
Total height: 1,001 mm
Curb weight: 620 kg