The Aprilia was the last model to be designed under the supervision of Vincenzo Lancia, he died unexpectedly just before this remarkable model went into production. The Aprilia was a refreshing new design, both in its technical specifications and in the design of the aerodynamic shape of the body. A scale model was wind-tunnel tested and had a Cx of 0,47, a remarkable figure for a saloon of that period. What Vincenzo had in mind was a car seating four within the wheelbase that, with a modest engine, could be driven at a high average speed. To achieve this, weight and wind-resistance had to be kept to a minimum. Ride, interior space and roadholding were not to be compromised. The result of this ambition was an exceptional car, as can be read in contemporary road tests. For easy access the body shell had no centre pillar between the doors (like the Augusta) and even without this reinforcement the body is extremely rigid.
The engine was of completely new design, a 1.3 litre narrow-V with 48 bhp, Just how avant-garde it was is illustrated by some of its features: an aluminium cylinder block with cast iron liners, aluminium alloy con-rods and hemispherical combustion chambers in a cross-flow head. Because the valves are set at an inclined angle and the cylinders offset, the valve gear is of a very complex design, and uses a single overhead camshaft, three rocker shafts and 12 rockers to actuate the eight valves. Equally remarkable is the independent rear suspension using trailing arms with torsion bars and an additional transverse leaf spring. The rear brakes are inboard on the differential casing so as to reduce the unsprung weight.
In 1939 came the second series with an enlarged engine (1.5litres) and also available was a platform chassis, on which many convertibles and special bodies were built by the well known Italian carrozzerias. A special taxi version was designed for Rome and, like the Augusta, the Aprilia was also built in France. These cars were sold as ‘Ardennes’, but with the war approaching this was a short-lived operation.