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1983 Lancia Rally 037 Group B

255+ bhp 1,995 cc DOHC supercharged inline four-cylinder engine with Bosch Kugelfisher injection, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent double-wishbone suspension, and Brembo/Abarth four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,240 mm

Changes to the FIA Group B regulations at the dawn of the 1980s prompted rally competitors to design purpose-built cars that required a small number, just 200 examples, of homologated road-going models to be sold to the public.

Working with Abarth, now part of the Lancia-Fiat group, engineers created project number 037 to replace the vaunted Lancia Stratos HF. Despite its less-than-auspicious name, 037 was conceived with input from some of Italy's best: Abarth, Pininfarina, and Dallara.

This racer was designed to recall the Lancia Beta-based Montecarlo/Scorpion, and it was bodied from Kevlar and reinforced with fiberglass panels. It also featured a steel sub-frame that was visible when its massive bonnet and boot access panels were opened—although it didn't look much like the Montecarlo/Scorpion, the Pininfarina-penned 037 featured a handful of design cues that served as a visual nod to Lancia's past, including a unique "double bubble" roofline.

A 2.0-liter, supercharged four-cylinder engine powered the first 037s, and an enlarged 2.1-liter one eventually followed. The engine was supercharged instead of turbocharged to improve throttle response and to quell turbo lag, and it was initially rated at 255 horsepower. The introduction of water injection helped boost that figure to 300 horsepower, while the 2.1-liter variant raised that number to 325 horsepower.

German firm ZF supplied the 037's robust rear end. The mid-mounted engine sent power to the rear wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, making the 037 the last of its kind before all-wheel-drive became commonplace in the WRC. A total of 28 examples of the Evolution 1 037 were assembled, and about 207 Stradale versions were eventually assembled to comply with FIA regulations.

The 037 made its racing debut at the 1982 Rally Costa Smeralda in Italy, but it wasn't until 1983 that Lancia experienced real success with the car. Despite competition from the AWD Audi Quattro, the 037 prevailed, with Walter Röhrl and Markku Alen behind the wheel.

Chassis 210, registered as TO Y88743, was campaigned during the 1983 World Rally Championship season, and it helped the automaker capture the manufacturer's title over Audi. The Martini Racing team used it for several races during the season. The Tour de Corse, taking place from 5–7 May, was driven by Jean-Claude Andruet, but it failed to finish. Later that month, at the Acropolis Rally, this car finished 5th overall at the hands of Bettega and Perissinot. Following its impressive result in Greece, Pentti Airikkala and Juha Piironen would finish in 5th place once more at the 1,000 Lakes Rally. Finally, in early October, chassis 210 was used as a test car at the Rallye Sanremo for the Bettega/Perissinot duo.

After its racing career, Fiat sold chassis 210 to a noted French collector. After being driven in several editions of the Tour Auto in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it found its way to the current owner in Italy. It is in excellent condition, swathed in the distinctive Martini livery, and it is ready to be displayed or enjoyed for its incredible performance.

This 037 represents a unique glimpse into an iconic era of Italian rally history, particularly the short-lived but revered Group B rally cars.

Text & Images Courtesy of RM Sotheby's