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Lancia 037: The Rally-Bred Homologation Special
The story of the 037 begins in the 1980s, just before the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile restructured a few racing classes. Lancia knew that a perfect storm was brewing in the background, and the Stratos-replacing Fiat 131 Abarth Rally was also getting long in the tooth.

Lancia 037: The Rally-Bred Homologation Special

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Abarth proved instrumental in the development of the 037. Acquired by Fiat in 1971, the Italian company that we associate with pocket rockets did most of the design work. The styling cue that gives this mid-engine icon away as a collaboration effort is the double-bubble roof. The suits at Fiat also commissioned the Corse Marche firm to modify the car’s limited-slip differential. What’s more, the Volumex supercharger is from Abarth too.

The first prototype of the rally-spec 037 was completed in late 1980 before FISA published the changes that would give birth to Group B rallying. If you’re curious why FISA is no longer a thing in motorsport, that’s because of a restructuring of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile in 1993.

037 received the green light in the spring of 1981, then homologation was approved at the beginning of April 1982. Presented with much pomp and circumstance a little under three weeks later, the 037 Stradale made its debut at the Turin Motor Show as the exact opposite of the Audi Quattro.

Rear-wheel drive, lightweight, and midship, the 037 is rocking a steel monocoque with a wheelbase that measures 2,240 millimeters fore to aft. Even though its force-fed engine is located right behind the driver and passenger seats, the front subframe is where you will find the radiators.

Bilstein dampers on each corner, double wishbones all around, a rear anti-roll bar, 300-millimeter brake discs from Brembo, and 16-inch alloys from Speedline also need to be mentioned. Eight inches wide up front and nine inches wide out back, the Pepperpot-style wheels originally came with Pirelli P7 Corsa rubber boots that clock in at 205/55 front and 225/50 rear.

A faithful reinterpretation of the final rear-wheel-drive rally car to win the FIA-sanctioned World Rally Championship, the road-going variant is fed by two fuel tanks installed right against the rear bulkhead on either side of the Aurelio Lampredi-designed Tipo 232 AR4. The what? The 2.0-liter engine boasts a twin-choke carburetor supplied by Weber. Gifted with a 7.5:1 compression ratio and electronic ignition from Italian supplier Marelli, the 1,995-cc lump uses dry-sump lubrication rather than a wet-sump arrangement. Obviously, the dry sump lowers the center of gravity.

Officially rated 205 horsepower at 7,000 revolutions per minute, this mill runs anything between 0.6 and 0.9 bars of supercharger boost. An iron block mated to a four-valve-per-cylinder head constructed from lightweight alloy, the Tipo 232 AR4 channels the goodies to the rear axle with the help of a five-speed transaxle supplied by ZF. Based on Fiat’s venerable twin-cam engine, this unit also borrows heavily from the 131 Abarth Rally’s engine.

Capable of 167 pound-feet (226 Nm) of torque at 5,000 revolutions per minute, the 037 hits 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) in just under six clicks. Top speed? Around 225 kilometers per hour (140 miles per hour) if you’re brave enough to keep your foot planted on the accelerator.

Originally priced at 40 million lire, which is more than a Cadillac Eldorado used to cost back in 1982, the 037 is... drum roll please... left-hand drive only. Tipping the scales at 1,170 kilograms (2,579 pounds), the Pininfarina-styled model is a very different animal from the Montecarlo. The 037 retained only the center section of its humble and rust-prone forerunner, which is also signed by Carrozzeria Pininfarina. In order to keep the weight down, Lancia used Kevlar reinforced with fiberglass bodywork panels finished in red.

Red was the only exterior color available, which is understandable given that we’re talking about Lancia. A spare wheel can be found under the bulging hood, which can be opened independently of the car's frontal section, just like a regular car's hood. The Oh-Thirty-Seven's nose lifts up as one piece.

Typical of a cash-strapped company, Lancia used pretty much every Motecarlo bit and bob it could for the cockpit of the 037. A sea of velour, neoprene for the fiberglass dashboard, and black-painted alloy for the dashboard’s fascia are featured, along with a tachometer that goes to 10,000 revolutions per minute. Somewhat unexpected of a rally-bred sports car from this automotive era, the 037 came with electric windows as standard.

Fitted with an Abarth-branded steering wheel, the 037 ended production in 1984 with just over 200 examples delivered. The 1982 season wasn’t particularly kind to the Group B-spec rally car, but come 1983, Lancia captured the manufacturers’ championship from Audi's mighty Quattro.

 
 
 
 
 

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