Professor Smith, kidnapped Prince Abdullah, the son of Sheikh Bab el Ehr. The Sheikh sent his horsemen in pursuit of the professor. In addition our friends Thompson and Thomson were also pursuing the professor in their Willys Jeep about which I wrote in my last post. Tintin was apprehensive whether this chasing party would be able to catch the professor so he borrowed another of the Sheikh’s cars and joined the pursuit. This car was a Lancia Aprilia.
Lancia was founded Vincenzo Lancia in 1906 at Turin. Vincenzo and his co-founder Caludio Fogolin were both race drivers who drove for Fiat. Their first car was called Tipo 51 which had a small four cylinder 28 BHP engine. Lancia has been an innovative company which introduced a number of firsts in the automobile industry like complete electrical system as standard equipment, sliding pillar independent front suspension, first five speed gearbox , the first V4 engine etc. Lancia was taken over by Fiat in 1969, but the company maintained Lancia as a separate brand and also maintained the values for which Lancia stood. Cars like the Fulvia, Stratos, o37 and Delta were very successful on the World of rallying during the 1970s and 80s. Lancia developed a close relationship with SAAB in the 1980s sharing platforms between Lancia Delta and SAAB 600 and Lancia Thema and SAAB 9000. The brand has remained within the Fiat Group till date. Most of the cars manufactured by Lancia are named after the Greek alphabets.
The Lancia Aprilia was manufactured between 1937 and 1949. The car that Tintin was driving was a 1938 model. This was the first car to be designed using a wind tunnel in collaboration with Battista Farina and Politecnico de Torino. It could achieve a coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.47. The Cd is a measurement of the air drag that the car experiences and tells about the aerodynamic efficiency of the design. The Aprilia was also assembled in France at Bonneuil.
These were large family cars which offered as 4-door saloon and 2-door cabriolets. This was the last car designed by the founder Vincenzo with four pillar-less doors.
It was powered by a 1,352 cc V-4 naturally aspirated petrol engine that produced 46 BHP at 4,000 rpm. This engine could push the 900 kg car to 129 km/h (80 mph). The drive was transmitted to the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox.