Starting development as the project number 037, thus christened as the Rally 037. It was specifically developed to comply with FIA Group B regulations to make it suitable to compete in the FIA Group B World Rally Championship.
Lancia Rally 037 shared many styling cues from its predecessors from the 1950s and 1960s. The double-bubble roofline was chosen to provide more headroom to the drivers, one of the main complaints regarding Lancia Stratos.
Pininfarina, Abarth, Dallara companies collaborated on the project and the project manager was Sergio Limone.
It was a silhouette racer and was loosely based on the Lancia Montecarlo (also known as Lancia Scorpion) road car with the only similarity between the two is a shared center section with all body panels and mechanical parts being different. Steel subframes were used fore and aft of the center section. The construction of the chassis was polyester resin with fiberglass and flame retardant.
Just like the Lancia Stratos, the Lancia Rally 037 also comes with a rear mid-engine rear-wheel architecture. But the engine was turned 90 degrees from a transverse position to a longitudinal position to allow greater freedom in the design of the suspension while moving engine weight forward.
The front suspension was independent wheels with two wishbones, coil springs, Bilstein gas shock absorbers, and anti-roll bars.
The rear suspension was also independent wheels with two wishbones, coil springs, dual shock absorbers with the only difference being the lack of anti-roll bars. Dual shock absorbers were added to cope with the stress of high-speed off-road driving.
Lancia Rally 037 also retained the rear-wheel-drive architecture that was nearly universal for Group B rally cars of the pre-Group B period. But, when it was introduced, all the successful rally cars were using four-wheel drive, making it the last successful rear-wheel-drive car of its time.
Unlike the predecessor, the V6 powered Lancia Stratos, The Lampredi 2.0-liter inline-four supercharged engine was chosen to power the car. This inline-four engine is a Fiat Abarth 131 rally car derived with a four-cam valve and a single large Weber carburetor design. Later models got fuel injection. Lancia chose to supercharge the engine rather than turbocharging to eliminate turbo lag. The supercharger that they use was an Abarth Volumex system with pressure between 0.6 and 0.9bar.
The power output of the engine was then delivered to the rear wheels through a ZF 5 speed manual gearbox.
The total power output was rated at 265 horsepower at first, but then later was increased to 280 horsepower.
The curb weight of the car was just 960 kg or 2116lb.
An Evolution 2 variant was powered with a supercharged 2.1-liter inline-four engine delivering 325 horsepower.
Pirelli P7 Corsa tires were chosen to use in the rally stages.
Lancia 037 Stradale
Before debuting in the 1982 World Rally Championship, 200 road legal models were built to comply with Group B regulations.
The street-legal Lancia 037 came with a Kevlar-reinforced fiberglass body and had a total weight of just 1170 kg. An Abarth developed dual overhead cam 2.0-liter 16-valve inline-four engine was mated to an Abarth Volumex Roots-type supercharger. The maximum power output was rated at 205horsepower at 7000rpm and a maximum torque of 167lb-ft of torque at 5000rpm.
The street-legal Lancia 037 was capable of achieving 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds with a top speed of 137mph.
Lancia Rally 037 Competition History
Lancia Rally 037 made its competition debut at the 1982 Rally Costa Seralda in Italy. Unfortunately, both cars retired due to gearbox malfunction. The 1982 season was not good for the Lancia Rally 037 and technical and designing flaws made the cars unusable and therefore forcing Lancia for many retirements from Rally stages. Despite the setbacks, Rally 037 won its first recorded win at the Pace Rally in Great Britain.
The 1983 season was a little more successful for the Rally 037 as Lancia won the 1983 World Rally Championship Constructors title. Walter Rohl, a German racing driver, and a Finnish Markku Alen were the principal drivers during this time.
The Audi Quattro, a four-wheel-drive rally competition car was the ultimate winner in almost every rally stage when the rear-wheel-drive cars such as the Lancia were struggling to keep at it, but not being successful at it. Lancia Rally 037 winning the World Rally Championship Constructors title despite the rear-wheel-drive setback amazed everyone.
Walter Rohl had the possibility of winning the driver’s title, but Lancia decided to not participate in the final rounds of the series after winning the title. Due to this, Audi Quattro driver Hannu Mikkola ended up winning the driver’s title with much ease.
For the 1984 racing season and to defend the 1984 Constructors title, Lancia introduced an Evolution 2 variant of the Rally 037 with improved engine power output. However, luck wasn’t on the side of Lancia this time and Audi Quattro ended up winning the competition due to the advantages its 4wheel drive system offered.
The 1985 World Rally Championship was won by the four-wheel-drive Peugeot 205 T16 beating the previous year’s victor, the Audi Quattro.
1984 Tour De Corse rally win was the last ever victory for the Lancia Rally 037 and the sole one for the Rally 037 Evolution 2 variant. This victory was achieved by the Finnish Hannu Mikkola.
Antonio Rodrigues won the 1984 Falperra International Hill Climb behind the wheels of a Lancia Rally 037.
It was then retired from all tournaments to be replaced with the vastly superior four-wheel drive Lancia Delta S4 for the 1984 season-ending RAC rally in Great Britain.
Attilio Bettega, an accomplished racing driver with 6 podium wins and 47 rally stage wins raced the Lancia Rally 037 to win second place at the 1984 Rallye Sanremo.
In 1985 Season Attilio entered the Safari Rally and Tour de Corse. While racing in Corsica, on the fourth stage of the rally, Bettega lost control of his Rally 037 and crashed into a tree. The tree simply ruptured into the driver seat and killed him instantly while his co-driver Maurizio Perissinot survived the crash uninjured. This accident pressured the safety aspects of Group B cars.
Lancia practiced questionable manufacturing methodologies and was infamous for build quality issues and engineering flaws. This incident proves that what Walter Rohl, the 1983 World Rally Championship winning driver talked about Lancia build quality issues that people addressed in his presence to make him choose a different racing team, but he stayed on board simply because he loved Lancia.
Exactly one year later the crash that killed Attilio Bettega, his former teammate Henri Toivonen and his co-driver (also worked as a co-driver for Attilio Bettega) Sergio Cresto driving a Lancia Delta S4 bearing the same number as the Bettega’s car, died in a fireball accident at the same event, which caused a ban for Group B rally stages. Their car crashed during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de course rally when their Lancia went off the side of the road and plunged down a ravine landing on its roof. The aluminum fuel tank got ruptured by the trees and exploded. The Kevlar-reinforced plastic composite body and structure burned down completely to a level that the Delta S4 wasn’t even identifiable as a car.
Toivonen’s crash remains a mystery and to this day a proper explanation wasn’t given.
It is possible that he lost control and crashed as the Lancia team boss mentioned, that the Delta S4 being a car too hard to control with Toivonen being the only one who could control the car. Besides that, Toivonen was suffering from blackouts and throat pains due to a crash he had in the previous year.
The exact number of Rally 037 cars that were built is not exactly known. A good example in a pristine condition rarely appears on the market and due to this reason, this is one of the most sought-after European classics of all time.