The Lancia 1Z armoured car was built by Ansaldo of Italy starting in 1916 and was the most common of the early Italian armoured cars. Based on a Lancia truck, the armoured car was an advanced design for its day. For firepower the vehicle was equipped with twin turret mounted machine guns. The initial ten vehicles featured a further small turret on top with yet another machine gun. This gave the vehicle considerable firepower for the time. As a result of experiences in World War I, steel rails were installed over the top of the vehicle for cutting wire.
Having had good results with the early car, another production run of a slightly modified version (the Lancia 1ZM) or "Model 1918" was ordered. The major difference between the 1Z and 1ZM was that the 1ZM did not have the top turret with the extra machine gun.
The Lancia 1ZM was the second batch of Ansaldo-Lancia armoured cars built. 110 cars of the improved model were ordered in 1917 and all were delivered before the end of 1918. Sometimes difficult to identify from the original Lancia 1Z ("Model 1916"), the most obvious difference is the removal of the top machine gun turret. This left the 1ZM with just the one larger, twin machine gun turret. Other features that will help are that the first 1ZM's usually have two spare tyres mounted on the right side of the vehicle (on the 1Z they were under the rear). The cooling vents and front armour of the engine compartment are slightly different and there are fewer vision ports in the armoured crew compartment. The front bumpers were also simplified. However, some of the original 1Z series were modified to initial 1ZM standard by the removal of the extra top turret and up-dating the chassis. This makes it possible to find photos of 1ZM armoured cars with both 1Z and 1ZM features. American troops on the Italian Front during World War I trained with and used some of these vehicles.
The Lancia 1Z/1ZM armoured car saw little combat in World War I due to the mountainous terrain in which the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito) fought. However, a few were deployed in the northern parts of the country where they saw combat against the Austro-Hungarian Army.
After World War I, Lancia 1Z/1ZM armoured cars were sent to North Africa and to East Africa for policing duties. A few cars were also sent to the Albanian Kingdom where they were to form the sole armoured force of the country for many years. Some Lancia 1Z/1ZM played a minor role during the Italian invasion and the occupation of Ethiopia. Some Lancia 1Z/1ZM were sent to Spain during the Spanish Civil War and were used by the Italian Corps of Volunteer Troops (Corpo Truppe Volontarie Italia, or CTV). These armoured cars were already hopelessly outdated by this point and performed poorly against the Spanish Republican forces.