A result of new Group B rallying regulations, the road-going 037 Stradale traces its lineage back to its former World Rally Championship title days in more ways than looks.
Change was afoot. Fresh from three World Rally Championship (slash Group B) Manufacturer’s titles with the iconic HF Stratos, regulation changes meant Lancia’s stranglehold on the crown was starting to slip. In the years to come, all-wheel drive powerhouses like the Audi Quattro and the Peugeot 205 T16 would change the rallying scene beyond recognition, the Driver’s Championship inevitably wrestling between the models between 1983 and 1986. Lancia though had one last rear-wheel drive trick up its sleeve.
In collaboration with Abarth, Dallara and Pininfarina, development soon began on ‘Project 037’ after the Stratos’ final championship run in 1976. Key to the whole design was an extremely lightweight Kevlar body reinforced with fibreglass panels, which dropped the overall weight to 1169kg. Mounted in the middle was a 1995cc four-cylinder, supercharged to provide throttle response and quell lag in ways unparalleled by the equivalent turbocharger. Boasting 255hp to begin with, later water injection updates would raise this figure to 300hp before a brand new 325hp 2.1-litre unit was slotted in as a replacement, the five-speed manual sending this power to the rear wheels remaining intact. Double wishbones and enormous Brembos underlined the new 037s no nonsense policy, though elements like the double bubble roof proved a cheeky nod to Lancia rally machines of days gone by.
Evolution 1 finally rolled onto the WRC scene for the first time at the 1982 Rally Costa Smeralda, an event it would win one year later (though gearbox failures scuppered a fairytale ending in 1982). A decisive warning shot had been made, and in 1983 – complete with Martini Racing livery and former champions Walter Röhrl and Markku Alén behind the wheel – Lancia once again took the Manufacturer’s Championship.
Of course before success came the compulsory homologated models, design of the 037 for road going purposes crucial for its subsequent run of the stages. Enter the 037 Stradale, just over 200 versions of which were made for the road. Detuned to 205hp, the 2.0-litre supercharged Abarth four-cylinder nevertheless remained intact, as did the five-speed gearbox and distinctive Pininfarina styled bodywork. Road tyres or otherwise, the 037 Stradale was still a weapon in the early 1980s. In its latest instalment, Petrolicious asks one owner – Philip Toledano – about his fascination for the Lancia:
“It’s like a tool. Except it’s a fast tool that scares the crap out of you.”
As fitting an accolade as any for a retro model with a Group B rallying heritage.
Source – PetroliciousCo