LEGO ‘Speed Champions’. 1986 Group B Lancia Delta S4

Could this LEGO Lancia Delta S4 become a reality? The latest ‘LEGO Project’ revives a Group B legend for the Speed Champions range

Remember the fan-designed LEGO Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Evolution 2 Speed Champion? He’s now unveiled a brick-rendering of yet-another Group B rallying hero, the Lancia Delta S4. And we’re very excited. 

Like the Peugeot before it, the LEGO Lancia includes accurate sponsorship decals, a detailed cabin (including roll cage and driver), as well as its legendary Martini stripes. This particular example depicts the 1986 Monte Carlo Rally, the event which showed the world that Lancia’s Delta S4 was a force to be reckoned with.

Despite the rear-wheel drive 037 sneaking a world title from under Audi’s noses, improved reliability from Ingolstadt and significantly more pace over their Italian rivals meant Lancia was already working on a new all-wheel drive, turbocharged Group B brute by mid-1983, after some heavy negotiation with parent company FIAT.

The new car would be marketed as a Delta, though in truth, the space frame chassis, the mid-engined layout and most of the underpinnings were lifted straight from the outgoing 037, albeit with heavy re-development. Lancia weren’t done raiding the spare parts bin: while the street-spec Delta used standard rear lights, the race-derived ‘Corse’ re-used examples previously used on the Beta Montecarlo Turbo Group 5 machine. The bodywork meanwhile was Ultra-Light Carbon/Kevlar composite for the sake of saving weight, a decision mandated – despite concerns from Lancia engineers that they may have gone a bit overboard – by Abarth. It was effective though, the Delta S4 weighing little more than 970kg.

The true ace up the sleeve though was Lancia’s 1759cc four-cylinder, which made use of ‘twin-charging’ – both superchargers and turbochargers – to reduce turbo lag at low speeds and offer maximum boost across the rev range. Official power statistics recorded 480bhp and 490Nm (361lb ft), but speculation suggested the former was actually closer to 550bhp. 

The renamed Delta S4 – ‘S’ for supercharged and ‘4’ for four-wheel drive – made a very successful debut at the end of 1985, Henri Toivonen and Markku Alén securing a 1-2 for Martini Racing first time out. Toivonen’s momentum would continue with victory next time out at the 1986-season opening Monte Carlo Rally, and the delta S4 would go on to win a further three rallies in 1986, including a podium shut out at Sanremo. Controversy though was about to strike. Originally awarded victory in Italy, the factory Peugeot team were later excluded from the event for running, what the governing body considered to be, illegal side skirts, despite the design having been given the thumbs up for the preceding 10 rounds. Appeals and counter-appeals would swamp the remainder of the season, FISA – having finally accepted they had made a mistake – ultimately withdrew Sanremo as an official points-scoring round of the championship. It was a result that effectively handed Peugeot’s Juha Kankkunen the 1986 title, despite Lancia’s Markku Alén having been crowned three weeks earlier.

That would not be the end of the Delta S4’s legacy, however. Tragically, on the 1986 Tour de Corse, 29-year old Toivonen would perish alongside co-driver Sergio Cresto after the pair’s Lancia jumped the guardrail at high speed, landing in a ravine several hundred feet below. Tragically, prior to the rally, Martini Racing had elected to remove the gravel guard from the fuel tank, allowing it to ignite on impact. Toivonen and Cresto would never leave their seats, and the Finn’s final words to the media proved haunting in retrospect: “It’s hard to keep up with the speed”

The tragedy on ‘the rally of 10,000 corners’, plus an earlier accident on Rally Portugal that saw three spectators lose their lives, was enough for the FISA to ban the ‘turbocharged rockets’ in Group B for 1987. Rallying’s most notorious period had come to a dramatic close, and while the Delta S4 could not emulate the world title winning 037 or Stratos – though it did win the ’86 European Rally Championship with Fabrizio Tabaton – the Delta name would go on to rewrite motorsport history.

  • Long-time readers may remember the Petrolicious video on the Lancia Delta S4, which you can see HERE.You can also support this Speed Champion project HERE

Enjoy this LEGO Lancia Delta S4 feature? 

You can check out more LEGO articles HERE, more Rally stories HERE, and more Lancia features HERE

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