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Video: Tribute to Lancia 037 Group B

Video: Tribute to Lancia 037 Group B

2014 was a sad year for Lancia. It’s when we found out Sergio Marchionne was planning to reduce the automakers lineup to a single model by discontinuing the Delta, and both the Chrysler-based Thema and Voyager. As if that wasn’t enough, the remaining Lancia Ypsilon will be sold only in Italy, which essentially means this Italian automaker is on a quick road to extinction. For me, a big Lancia enthusiast, that’s downright terrible. Sure, present-day Lancia is just a shadow of what it used to be, but that’s no reason to pull the plug on it and let it die. On the contrary, Marchionne should devise a plan to bring it back in the spotlight, much like he’s doing with Alfa Romeo.

It remains to be seen whether Fiat will come to its senses or not, but in the meantime I’m here to present you with one of Lancia’s glorious past moments. Thanks to Petrolicious, which has made a habit of showcasing some of the most important cars the industry has created, we can have a closer look at the Lancia 037, the racer that won the World Rally Championship and paved the way for the stunning first-generation Delta.

The 037 saga began in 1980, when Lancia started working on a rally car to comply with the then-new FIA Group B regulations. The Italians opted for a mid-engine layout and turned to Abarth for a few tips. Fitted with a supercharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder powerplant that developed 265 ponies at first and 325 in its final Evolution 2 configuration, the 037 became a successful rally car, winning the series in 1983 with German ace Walter Rohrl behind the wheel.

With FIA regulations requiring at least 200 road-going version to be built for homologation, Lancia also rolled out a Stradale version, with its engine detuned to 205 horses. Although less aggressive than its rally-course sibling, the 037 Stradale is now a collectible in its own right. If only Lancia would look back on its legendary cars and move toward reviving its heritage...

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Chris Harris riding shotgun in a selection of classis Lancia rally cars

Chris Harris riding shotgun in a selection of classis Lancia rally cars

If you watch Formula One as religiously as we do, then you’ll be aware that the commentators continually refer to F1 drivers as the best in the world, and while we respect their talent immensely, we do have a firm belief that rally drivers possibly possess even more skill. This is simply due to the fact that they often drive cars which can accelerate as fast as F1 cars on roads less than half the width of a common F1 track.

Additionally, rally cars have a lot more personality than F1 cars as classic rally cars were not as clinical as F1 cars of the time and right now, and if you love rally just as much as we do then the following video is a must.

In the latest episode of ‘Chris Harris on Cars’ on the Drive YouTube network, the man himself, Chris Harris, was lucky enough to be invited by Pirelli to the Italian launch of its new P7 Corsa Classic racing tire specifically designed for classic rally cars.

In a first, Harris rides shotgun in a selection of incredible rally cars, rather than drive them, but this has to go down as one of our very favorite Chris Harris reviews. Cars featured heavily in the video include the Lancia Stratos, Lancia Delta S4, and the incredible Lancia 037 which produces a noise so incredible that it will literally send shivers down your spine.

Add that to the fact that a host of extremely successful rally drivers were on hand to drive Harris around in the cars, including Markku Alen and Juha Kankkunen, and you have the makings of a truly incredible video.

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1976 Lancia Stratos 'Stradale' by Carrozzeria Bertone

1976 Lancia Stratos ’Stradale’ by Carrozzeria Bertone

The Lancia Stratos was once one of the most dominant forces in the World Rally Championship, as it took home the championship in three consecutive seasons – 1974, 1975 and 1976. After the 1976 campaign, however, the Stratos was pulled out of the WRC.

In 1979, the Stratos wound up with a private racing firm and dominated the 1979 Monte Carlo Rally. The legend of the Lancia Stratos continues amongst rally enthusiasts. The Stratos was not only a rally machine, as Lancia did manufacture a small number of street versions of its rally champ. Unfortunately, with its popularity in the Rally realm, many of the street-version, known as the “Straddles,” Stratos have been converted into rally cars or modified into replicas of the WRC Champion car.

Thanks to the folks at RM Auctions you may be able to own one of the few near-mint condition 1976 Lancia Stratos ’Straddles’ left in the world. This beautifully restored classic is set to go to auction on May 11th or 12th in Monaco.

You may be wondering how well restored is this classic car or maybe if it is worth its asking price? Maybe you haven’t even heard of this car and would like to know more about it before considering shoving off to Monaco.

Click past the jump to read our full review to get a better feel for this car.

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1974 Lancia Stratos

1974 Lancia Stratos

The seventies brought us things like bell bottom jeans, the Village People, and of course, a slimy-haired John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. In the car world, it was a time where muscle cars were well and truly in their element. Whilst Detroit was reveling, there was also a revolution going on, but one that would blow the lid off car design norms. It was all happening in the house of Bertone and the car in question was poised to re-write history in the worlds of car design and Rallying. It was, of course, the revolutionary Lancia Stratos HF.

With its striking good looks, the car was a unique design that was unparalleled at the time. What also made it special was the fact that it was built from the ground up for one purpose: to win the World Rally Championship. It is very seldom that you come across cars that are designed as race cars and then turned into road cars – usually it’s the other way around. Other examples that share this rare trait include the Maserati MC12 and Mercedes CLK GTR. The road going version was only produced so that homologation criteria could be met in order for it to enter the Group 4 class of the Rally World Championship. And for that reason, like the Maserati and Mercedes, it had quite a few shortcomings in the real world. Its performance wasn’t one of them – largely due to the mid–mounted Ferrari V6 engine form the Dino - after all Ferrari was owned by Fiat and the Stratos was developed as a race car.

Hit the jump for the full story.

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Lancia working on a new Stratos model?

Lancia working on a new Stratos model?

We’ve heard this one before; Lancia may or may not be working on a new version of their legendary Stratos model. If these photos taken at the Fiat Group test track at Balocco near Milan are indicative of the Stratos’ future then, this time, the rumors may be true.

The Lancia Stratos was a sports/rally car designed from the mind of Marcello Gandini, then head designer of Bertone, and was based off the Stratos Zero concept presented at the Turin Motor Show in 1970. It was short, wide, and had a wedge shape that provided maximum traction. The Stratos was home to three different engines during the first part of its life: The Lancia Fulvia engine, the Lancia Beta engine, and the mid-mounted 190bhp Dino Ferrari V6 engine, with the V6 being the favorite.

The Stratos was produced from 1972-1974 and ended up winning the 1974, 1975, and 1976 WRC titles as well as gaining victories in the 1975, 1976, and 1977 Monte Carlo Rally. With 492 units sold during its time, the Lancia Stratos is a very rare and beautiful automobile.

So, is it making a comeback? Unfortunately, we think the answer to that question is no. Apparently, the spy shots taken of this new Stratos is a project that is being privately funded by a European industrialist. We are hoping that the distinct Stratos characteristics, such as the wheel arches cutting into the bonnet, the curved windshield and wraparound side glass, the engine cover, and the flip-up rear spoiler, will mean that this prototype will give way to a new Lancia Stratos for us all. Especially since the vehicle is also being tested at Balocco. Here’s to hoping!

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