Part 4 Aquila Italiana and Aurea
Aurea is a little-known car manufacturer from Turin, which operated as Societa Italiana Ferrotaie from 1920-1922 and Fabbrica Anonima Torinese Automobili from 1922-1933. It began by building side-valve 1460 cc four cylinder engines for it Series 400 models. This five passenger car had a three-speed gear box, wooden artillery style wheels and brakes only on the rear wheels.
Beginning in 1923, Aurea introduced a 1479 cc overhead valve engine. The new engine was offered in two sub-types – the Series 500 model, with many of the same features as the Model 400 and the Model 500 S, which had four-wheel brakes, wire wheels and higher horse power. All Model 500 cars had a four-speed gear box. Separate from the production models were the racing efforts of the company.
In 1924, Aurea produced a two passenger racing car featuring an all-aluminum body and racing-tuned 1460 OHV engine. This car was called the MONZA. An original OHV Aurea factory team racing car survives and is located in Sicily. These vehicles raced at Monza competitively for two years and although reliable, they were unsuccessful in their 1.5 liter class. The cars had excellent brakes and handled well, but their top speed of 65 MPH was too slow for the fabulously fast Autodromo Nazionale Monza circuit on which they raced.
From mid-1925 until the automakers final production in late 1926, the Model 600 was produced. It offered a wider passenger body, but the mechanical features were identical to the Model 500 S.
Aurea cars were well-made, but fairly heavy and slow. The top speed of the Model 500 and 600 cars barely topped 40 miles per hour. The interior body trim on all vehicles was of a very high standard for the vehicles market segment. The automobiles were aimed at the middle-car market and had an upscale esthetic appeal, based on the quality of the upholstery and interior appointments. This made it attractive for foreign markets and the car was exported to England and Australia.
The speed of production was a limiting factor for the company. To increase output, significant changes would have to be made to the production line. Additionally, the company’s financial strength was not good. The company was purchased by the Ernesto Ceirano in 1926, who wound down regular production of cars later in the year. The factory was then converted to the production of Ceirano commercial vehicles, particularly trucks. Fabbrica Anonima Torinese Automobili continued to operate until 1933, but the automobili component represented parts, rather than entire automobiles. In 1933, the company was consolidated entirely into Ceirano Commercial.
The factory survived from 1926 to World War II under Ceirano management, producing Aurea spares and Ceirano Commercial vehicles, but was bombed and destroyed in 1941.
Today, only a handful of Aureas survive, curiously most of the cars are now in Australia.
Final Notes – In this feature, the Ceirano family is mentioned for the first time in this series. In subsequent features, the Ceirano brothers – Giovanni Battista, Giovanni, Ernesto and Matteo, feature strongly as architects of the Italian automotive industry. They were variously responsible for the founding of nine different automotive companies – Ceirano, Welleyes (the technical basis of F.I.A.T.), Fratelli Ceirano, S.T.A.R. / Rapid (Società Torinese Automobili Rapid), SCAT (Società Ceirano Automobili Torino), Itala and S.P.A. (Società Piemontese Automobili). Giovanni’s son, Giovanni “Ernesto” was also influential, co-founding Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili (aka Giovanni Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili) and Fabrica Anonima Torinese Automobili (FATA).
Next week, Part 5 of this series will feature another manufacturer who had vanished, but has risen like a phoenix from the ashes.