1954 Lancia D50
This unusual looking car is the Lancia D50, a Formula One car designed by Vittorio Jano in 1954 and raced competitively in 14 World Championship Grand Prix, with a tally of 5 victories to its name. The car was first driven competitively by the then reigning World Champion Alberto Ascari at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, who took pole and fastest lap on the cars debut in the 1954 season, although the car had a mechanical issue and retired from the race.
Ascari went on to win the Turin and Naples GP’s, but then had an accident at Monaco when his car crashed into the harbour as he took the lead. Although rescued from this incident, Ascari then suffered a crash during a test session for Scuderia Ferrari at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza 4 days later and died (aged 36). He was driving at that time a Ferrari 750 Monza that he wasn’t supposed to drive that day, but decided to attempt a few laps anyway. Wearing a jacket and tie, and fellow racer Castellotti’s white helmet, he rolled the Ferrari 750 several times and was thrown from the car, and was killed instantly.
The Lancia D50 features a number if unusual design elements, most notably the external fuel tanks that run along the length of the car in a pannier style, said to improve weight distribution. The car also uses the engine as part of the chassis frame, and with an offset position, allows the car to have a reduced height, again improving the cars centre of gravity and supposedly providing an aerodynamic advantage as well.
The Lancia family, due to financial constraints, sold their controlling share in the Lancia company, and the assets of Scuderia Lancia were given to Scuderia Ferrari, who continued to develop the car which became rebadged as a Lancia-Ferrari D50, and then Ferrari D50. Juan Manuel Fangio went on to win the 1956 World Drivers Championship in the D50, although by that time many of the unusual design features seen in the Vittorio Jano original were abandoned in favour of more conventional practices of the time.