Lancia 037 Stradale: The unicorn that made the WRC legend possible

Few units were manufactured for Lancia to compete at the dawn of Group B

Many remember the era of Group B as the golden era of the WRC: when machines with virtually no limitations flouted the laws of physics and common sense to thrill spectators around the world, piloted by men and women who were capable of riding. at full throttle through forests, roads and other landscapes, often making their way through seas of enthusiasts. At the beginning of that era, from the previous Group 4 FIA, there was Lancia, competing with the Lancia 037. And, in order to race with this car, it was necessary to homologate it through a series production car. This would be, of course, the Lancia 037 Stradale from which the necessary units were made for the homologation of the rally beast.

The 037 was the direct heir to the Stratos that had been so successful during the 1970s, using the same mid-position Ferrari Dino 246 engine in an era when rear-wheel drive cars were still the norm in rallying – between Its direct rivals were the Alpine A110, the Ford Escort RS MKI and MKII or the Fiat 131 Abarth, a model from the same company that was located between the Stratos and the 037. For the arrival of the Group’s new rally regulations B, Lancia wanted to once again make a truly sports car, born from the outset to win in rallies instead of adapting a street car to compete on stretches of asphalt, dirt, mud or snow.

It could be said that, like many other manufacturers, the arrival of the Audi Quattro and its then-new all-wheel drive, legalized in the WRC regulations just a few years before, caught him on the wrong foot. And, over time, it would be shown that all-wheel drive was much more effective in rallies, despite the fact that these cars were heavier due to the need to incorporate a tunnel to transmit power to both axles. Proof of this is that today, except for the most basic categories, all the ‘big’ rally cars, whether Rally1, Rally2 or Rally3 or as the World Rally Cars were long ago, all have all-wheel drive. The most notable Group A or Group N in history have also been 4×4, with exceptions such as the brutal Kit Cars.

Proof of this would come years later with the Lancia Delta S4, as well as with the legendary Delta HF Integrale once the Group B were banned and destined for museums (and rallycross) at the end of 1986. However, the Lancia 037 has the honor of being the last single-wheel drive car that managed to win the brands title of the World Rally Championship in 1983. A season that could be considered to have been… like something out of a movie.