The Lancia 037 is a motoring legend. It was the last rear-wheel drive car to win the WRC and now is your chance to own one. If you have a cool $400,000 lying about, this 1982 Lancia 037 Rally Stradale could be yours.
It is up for auction as part of the ESSEN collection on the 11 – 12 April. The car is exceptionally well preserved and has only travelled 3,500km since new. It is the 22nd of only 217 examples produced and remains in completely unrestored condition.
The story of this car starts with the Bignardi family – a family well known in Italian racing circles. It was originally registered on 24 May 1984 to Francesco Pio Bignardi from Palermo, and despite the family’s heritage of rallying, the car remained in road-going condition.
Carlo Pungetti of Bologna then purchased the vehicle in 2005, but never registered it. Instead he kept the 037 in a warehouse with the rest of his collection. The next chapter in the car’s history was when it was sold to its current owner in Germany. The 037 has been kept in pristine condition and is a prime example of Lancia’s incredible design lineage.
Lancia 037 History
The Lancia 037 was bred for the unforgiving world of motorsport, specifically the absolutely mental Group B rallying era. During this period, rally cars were producing some bonkers horsepower figures and only the most skilled could tame them. The cars hurtled down and up twisty rally stages, mere meters away from spectators.
To combat the growing threat from the likes of Audi, Lancia needed a new car. Lancia had been incredibly successful with the Stratos and the Fulvia, but the new Group B regulations called for a much more powerful beast.
In 1980 Lancia began developing a new car, the 037. Abarth, now part of the Lancia-Fiat family, did most of the design work for the vehicle, incorporating design cues from many of their previous race cars.
The 037 was developed in collaboration between Abarth, Dallara and Pininfarina. The project was headed up by Sergio Limone and the Group B rules called for 200 road-going homologation examples to be produced. Road-going 037s were given the name ‘Rally Stradale’ and Lancia produced a total of 217 of them.
While the 037 was loosely based on the Lancia Montecarlo (also known as the Scorpion in the Canadian and US markets), the two cars shared only the centre section. All of the body panels and mechanical parts were completely different, with most of the panels being made from Kevlar.
The design team kept the mid-engine layout of the Montecarlo, but turned the engine 90 degrees from a transverse position to a longitudinal one. This gave them more room to work with the suspension design and let them move the engine-weight forward slightly.
An independent double wishbone suspension setup was used for both the front and the rear. To cope with the bumpy, high stress conditions of rallying, the design team fitted dual shock absorbers to the rear of the car.
A 2.0-litre 4-cylinder supercharged engine powered the rear wheels, a complete departure from the V6 unit that was used on the 037’s predecessor, the Stratos. Lancia decided to use a supercharger instead of a turbocharger to improve throttle response and eliminate turbo lag. To start with, the engine produced around 265 horsepower, but this would later increase to well over 300 hp.
The Rally Stradale was much the same as the racing 037, but power was less at 205 hp and it weighed around 200kg more.
Lancia’s 037 made its competition debut at the 1982 Rally Costa Smeralda in Italy. Two cars were entered but unfortunately both had to retire due to gearbox issues. The string of bad luck continued with numerous reliability problems plaguing the 037 during the 1982 season.
Undeterred, Lancia returned for the 1983 season and what happened was nothing short of a miracle. Despite being up against the mighty 4WD Audi Quattro, Lancia managed to win the 1983 World Rally Championship Constructors’ title with Germany’s Walter Röhrl and Finland’s Markku Alen at the wheel. However, the drivers’ title would go to Audi’s Hannu Mikkola.
The 037 returned with more power in 1984, but could not stem the tide of 4WD competition. It would be the last rear-wheel drive car to win a World Rally Championship.
If you haven’t seen it, we recommend that you check out Jeremy Clarkson’s piece on the Lancia 037 and the Audi Quattro on the Grand Tour. Here’s a small snippet.