1986 Group B Lancia Delta S4. ‘Ballet of Brutality’. Petrolicious

Petrolicous introduces us to John Campion and his 1986 Group B Lancia Delta S4, just one meticulous item of a truly astonishing collection of iconic rally cars.

It’s somewhat ironic, given the prevalence it would have in the championship in the years that followed, that the Lancia Delta S4 was but a footnote during its short-lived Group B career. In its lesser-powered Group A heyday, the Delta Integrale swept the championship table from 1987 to 1992, racking up 46 victories and six manufacturer crowns on the bounce, the Delta losing only two drivers titles to Carlos Sainz’ Toyota Celica in ’90 and ’92 (Juha Kankkunen and Miki Biasion collected the remainder for Lancia in ’87 / ’91, and ’88-’89 respectively). In Group A, the Delta cemented Lancia as the most successful manufacturer in World Rally Championship history and remains the most successful car in the history of the championship. Suck it Citroen C4 WRC…

By comparison, the Group B S4 yielded ‘just’ five victories in its two seasons of rallying, playing second fiddle to the all-conquering Peugeot 205 Turbo in terms of championship glory. Not that this stopped Petrolicious’ latest incumbent – John Campion – from snapping up a pristine example. And though his story begins with his father’s ’67 Cortina, it’s the S4 we’re all here to see (sorry John’s dad).

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Packing a super/turbocharged 1.7-litre four-cylinder, the S4 official produces 550hp, though official Lancia tests back in the late 80s recorded as high as 1000hp. You can understand then why driving said beast is, in John’s own words, a “ballet of brutality”, balancing both the brutal power delivery but also temperamental brakes and tightened gearing, all whilst you’re sitting on top of the fuel tanks. “Pure focus” is one way of putting it…

Originally run by possibly the best team name in rally history – Jolly Club – the S4 even arrived with full FIA homologation papers and the original pace notes used by Dario Cerrato and Giuseppe Cerri on the 1986 Sardinian Rally for ‘Jolly Club’. Which, incidentally, the Delta S4 swept, Cerrato /Cerri finishing second to Markku Alén/Ilkka Kivimäki. This was only after the winning Peugeot 205 Turbo was deemed illegal and subsequently thrown out of the results. On Lancia’s home event of all places. Funny that…

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