autoevolution
Car video reviews:
 
Lancia Delta S4: The Fearsome Rally Car That Ended Group B
Against all odds, Turinese automaker Lancia secured the 1983 World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title with the rear-wheel-driven 037. But on the other hand, the Italian automaker was aware that it had to respond to the Audi Quattro with a 4WD legend of its own.

Lancia Delta S4: The Fearsome Rally Car That Ended Group B

1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corse1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale1986 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale
In addition to the Quattro, the 037 also had a hard time keeping up with the four-wheel-drive Peugeot 205 T16. Both 1984 and 1985 were tremendously hard for the Italian squad, especially as Lancia Martini was patiently waiting for the Delta S4. The successor of the 037 made its competitional debut in November 1985 at the RAC Rally. It finished the grueling event in first and second places, giving Lancia Martini hope for the following season.

Extremely fast regardless of surface, the four-wheel-drive land missile sadly lost to the aforementioned Peugeot 205 T16 in 1986. Out of 13 rallies that year, the Delta S4 took home four wins compared to six for the 205 T16. It finished in third place in the constructors’ ranking, behind Audi and Peugeot Talbot. Be that as it may, 1986 is sadly remembered for something else…

Group B was canned in May 1986 following a horrendous crash at the Tour de Corse. Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto died in their Delta S4 Corse, and one day later, FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre made the shock announcement that Group S would be canned for 1987 as well.

Lancia’s twin-charged monster had much to prove, but paradoxically, the Delta S4 had inadvertently sealed the fate of the most extreme rally cars ever produced. The Group B-spec Delta S4 originally numbered 28 examples, and homologation rules further gave us a few road-going cars.

The Italian automaker needed to build 200 units, but due to FISA’s oversight, it’s estimated that Lancia produced fewer than 150 units of the Delta S4 Stradale. The lowest estimate is 45 units, and bear in mind that some of those road-going cars were promptly converted to race spec. As a result, the Stradale is one of the rarest homologation specials of all time.

Developed with Abarth’s input under the SE 038 codename, this fellow uses a Tipo 233 ATR 18S four-cylinder engine. Developed specifically for this application, the 1,759-cc lump features a four-valve alloy head and dry-sump lubrication. By combining a Volumex supercharger, a KKK turbo, and two air-to-air intercoolers, the 233 ATR 18S was classified in the 2,000- to 2,500-cc bracket due to the 1.4 multiplier for force-fed powerplants.

Lancia knew very well what they were doing. This class allowed a minimum weight of 890 kilograms (1,962 pounds), which makes the rally car a bit of a handful on tight rally stages. But on the other hand, it handles better than its rear-drive predecessor due to its longer wheelbase and 4WD system.

Originally rated at 450 horsepower, the Delta S4 Corse is believed to make closer to 550 horsepower by people in the know. The Delta S4 Stradale, which is understandably heavier, belts out around 250 horsepower at 6,750 revolutions per minute and 215 pound-feet (292 Nm) at 4,500 rpm.

Produced in collaboration with Turinese coachbuilder Savio, the Stradale is rocking a tubular spaceframe with alloy subframes and some composites here and there. Double wishbones and anti-roll bars also need to be mentioned, along with Pirelli-wrapped Speedline wheels that measure 16 by 8 inches. ZF supplied the five-speed manual transmission, along with the limited-slip differential. Ferguson made the viscous-coupling transfer case. which splits torque from 25:75 to 40:60 front to rear in the Corse variant.

The Stradale sends 30 percent of the available torque up front and 70 out back. Bodied in fiberglass, the road-going car also integrates clamshell front and rear sections. Although it’s named after the Delta, the S4 shares very little with it: front grille, taillights, and windscreen. The headlights, on the other hand, come from the Fiat Ritmo front-drive small family car.

Equipped with electric windows, air conditioning, and power steering as standard, the Stradale proudly flaunts a boost gauge between the 9,000-rpm tachometer and 260-kph (162 mph) speedometer. In truth, the road-going variant makes do with 225 kph (140 mph). Zero to 100 kph (62 mph) takes circa six seconds. The Corse needs merely 2.4 seconds on tarmac.

Finnish rally driver Markku Alen famously claimed the Delta S4 Corse was cranking out 750 horsepower at the final event of the 1986 season, which is absolutely insane for a rally car this light. Originally priced at 100 million lire, which is five times more than a Delta HF Turbo, the Delta S4 Stradale currently goes for well over $400,000 at auction. The most expensive example sold at auction in recent memory is chassis number ZLA038AR000000155, which hammered for a simply ridiculous €1,040,000 (about just as much in dollars) in 2019.

 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories