Winner of the 1982 ADAC Rallye Deutschland with World Champion Walter Röhrl
Works Lancia Martini entrant at the 1982 Rally Costa Smeralda, the 037’s rally debut
Driven by World Champions Walter Röhrl and Markku Alén
World Rally and European Rally Championship competitor
The Lancia 037 Group B:
The design of the new Lancia Group B machine, codenamed the SE037, was approved in March 1980. The car featured a supercharged, longitudinal, four-cylinder, 16-valve engine and double wishbone suspension in the front and rear. By November 1981, the team was ready to formally announce the 037 as a project that would compete in the 1982 World Rally Championship. The team and drivers worked hard on set up and development, resulting in Lancia claiming victory in five World Rally events in 1983, en route to winning the World Rally Constructors’ Championship.
The Lancia 037 was a machine built for purpose. It was designed to reign supreme over all competitors in the Group B era of World Rallying, and in 1983, it did exactly that, winning the World Rally Constructors’ Championship. The 037 also secured three consecutive European Rally Championship titles from 1983 to 1985, two Italian Championship titles in 1983 and 1985, and one Open title in 1984.
Lancia continued the success it had experienced with the Fulvia, Stratos and 037, each providing valuable lessons in the design of Lancia’s future champions, the Delta S4 and Delta Integrale, which both helped Lancia cement its place as the world’s most successful WRC constructor with 10 World Championships!
This Lancia 037 Group B:
This car, chassis 319, was built in early 1982, being first registered to Fiat Auto Spa in Turin on 12 July 1982 and assigned the famed Italian registration ‘TO Y09061’. However, due to the time taken to register cars in this period, the Lancia Works team entered many cars in competition events using temporary registration plates. In this case, the car was fitted with ‘A6 32929’ in advance of the official registration being issued. Whilst there’s no paperwork to link these temporary plates to chassis, there has been a lot of research conducted and now all temporary plates are accepted and associated with specific chassis.
In its earliest development as a factory competition car, this Lancia 037 Group B featured a 1,995 cc, supercharged, four-cylinder, type 232 AR4 engine. Due to regulations, the cylindrical capacity was multiplied by 1.4, to increase its rating to 2,793 cc. Although Group B had no specific regulations governing the engine capacity, this cc rating did affect the minimum weight a model could compete at, which, for the 037, was 960 kg. Interestingly, the engine cc rating also affected the width of wheels that could be fitted, which, in this case, meant that the combined width of one front and rear wheel could not exceed 22 inches.
Chassis 319 made is competition debut at the Rally Costa Smeralda in April, displaying its ‘A6 32929’ license plate. This gravel event, based in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, was also the world debut for the 037 Group B — never before had the competition been so fearful of a new car. For this event, 319 was assigned race number 1, driven by 1980 World Rally Champion Markku Alén and co-driver Ilkka Kivimäki and was draped in the ever-iconic Lancia Martini Racing livery. As we can see from the fabulously detailed photos within the car’s history file, both 037s entered were fitted with carburettors, meaning these cars were very much still in development. The 037 was only awarded homologation on 1 April — the first day of this rally! Both Markku Alén and Attilio Bettega were up against strong competition — representative of what they could expect to meet at a World Championship event — including the Michelotto Ferrari 308 GTB and the Audi Quattro of Michele Cinotto, a car both drivers had their eyes firmly set on. After a few stages, Markku Alén and 319 started to find their form, even claiming a stage victory in their maiden outing. Sadly, both cars retired at almost the same point, with Cesare Fiorio commenting, “Both cars stopped on the same stage with the same problem. It was gear selector failure, but it is nothing too serious, and of course, we will be in Corsica for the World Championship event”.
The next event for 319 was the Rallye dell’Isola d’Elba, held from 22 to 24 April, with Adartico Vudafieri behind the wheel and Maurizio Perissinot reading notes. Held on the island of Elba, this was round 17 of the European Rally Championship and it featured a mixture of asphalt and gravel stages. Vudafieri was quick to settle into competition with the 037, claiming 12 stage victories in 319. However, whilst battling for the overall lead of the rally, the team experienced issues with the brakes, especially when the pads were heavily worn. The cure required a calliper change at service, but this was delayed, leading to Vudafieri incurring a time penalty, dropping him to 4th in the standings. A repeat of the Sardinian gear selection problems also occurred, and despite winning the final four stages, Vudafieri crossed the line to claim 7th overall.
Four weeks later, 319 returned to action at the Rally 4 Regioni, located just south of Milan. This time, Andrea Zanussi was behind the wheel, a step up from his usual Fiat 131 Abarth, and 319 had been repainted in the famous green and orange To-Tip-sponsored livery. Zanussi took a couple of stages to get on top of the huge performance upgrade offered by the 037, and after several stage victories, Zanussi and the car finished the rally 4th overall — the highest finishing Group B specification car.
Zanussi headed to the start of the 24-hour Rallye d’Ypres as European Championship leader; although, 319 quickly became the subject of a dispute. It was thought that a telex from FISA had been sent, which stated that the homologation for the car had been withdrawn due to a modification that had allegedly been carried out to the Lancia’s cooling system. However, with Lancia choosing not to comment and 319 retiring due to a failed head gasket, the matter was quickly forgotten.
At the start of August, Zanussi competed in the Rali Vinho da Madeira with 319, which had been upgraded to the latest Evo 1 specification. This latest specification was clearly a huge improvement, as Zanussi was 20 seconds faster than anyone else on the first stage, despite a loose plug lead. He was pushing the Evo 1 Lancia to a tremendous debut, staying in the lead for four stages. Sadly, engine issues returned in the night and Zanussi suffered head gasket failure, which turned out to be due to badly manufactured cylinder heads. After the event, Zanussi said in a press interview that the car was “really a new one” and “we also had an injection problem, so the throttle was either on or off!” Later in August, Walter Röhrl announced his interest in testing the Lancia, with a view to join the team for the 1983 season!
Over the summer, chassis 319 was returned to the Abarth Works, where it was prepared to compete at the Rallye Marlboro Côte d’Ivoire, the penultimate round of the 1982 World Championship for drivers. Starting on 27 October, this was the first event in which 319 competed with its Torino license, ‘TO Y09061’. Chassis 319 arrived at the start ramp with a spare Pirelli tyre mounted on the roof and a large bull bar on both the front and rear. Spot lights were also added to the a-pillars and its ride height had been significantly increased. A large drum-like air filter helped combat the dust, and an extra fuel tank had been built in to increase capacity to 120 litres from the standard 70. There was also a front-mounted, 25-litre water tank to keep the windscreen and lights clean. As a sign of the financial resources being poured into World Rallying at this time, each factory team had their own aircraft to relay messages and keep an eye on their cars as they wound their way through the jungle. Vudafieri drove cautiously over the first day to preserve the car over such harsh terrain; although, it was ultimately struck down by engine problems, caused by the extreme temperatures.
The 1982 season drew to a close and 319 was returned to the Abarth Works again to be prepared for the 1983 season. It would be driven by Lancia Martini’s latest recruit and 1982 World Rally Champion, Walter Röhrl, who commented, “I felt confident in the 037 from the first kilometre. It was practise for Monte Carlo, in December 1982, when I was really getting the feel for the car. I was very impressed”.
Röhrl made his first appearance with 319 on home soil at the International ADAC-Saarland Peugeot-Talbot Rallye in early April. With this event being run in Germany, the Works Lancia team was sponsored by Würth, a German chemicals and fasteners company; although, Röhrl still wore his Martini-sponsored overalls behind the wheel. The asphalt-based event played to the strengths of the 037, with Röhrl and Christian Geistdörfer finishing an impressive 2nd overall.
Chassis 319 was next seen at the fifth round of the World Championship for the drivers and the fourth round for the manufacturers, the Tour de Corse, in early May. Lancia chose to send four Works-entered cars to the French event, with Attilio Bettega and Maurizio Perissinot assigned to 319, which wore race number 14. A total of six lightweight, nimble and tractable 037s took to the start in Ajaccio, with Lancia planning complete domination. For Bettega, this was a tough event, as only 12 months ago this was the scene of his horrifying accident, which had removed him from competition until this race. Chassis 319 was now in full asphalt specification and, with Bettega, was the second fastest on the first stage, continuing to improve and claim two overall stage victories en route to finish 4th overall.
After a brief visit to Argentina for the next round of the World Championship, where 319 was driven by Francisco Mayorga and Martin Christie, it was Röhrl’s turn to onc again take the wheel of 319. Röhrl and the Lancia team entered the ADAC Rallye Deutschland wearing race number 1. At the time, Röhrl commented, “Part of my contract with Lancia was that I would compete in a few German rallies with an 037. During practise for one of these rallies, we had to complete a lap of the Nordschleife at the Nürburgring. It was very nice to drive on a circuit — very smooth. We did a lap in eight minutes; I was very proud of that”.
After this victory, 319 was retired from the Works squad, and in March 1986, it was sold to Tre Gazzelle Srl. Later in the year, it was driven by Jean-Michel Blanchi at three rallies, the Criterium Alpin, Rallye d’Antibes and Rallye du Var. Throughout 1987, Blanchi continued to compete with 319 at two further events, the Rallye de Brignoles-Coteaux Varois and Rallye National des 1000 KM de la Réunion. At this time, the car was white, as the main sponsor was Radio Monte Carlo, and MDM Racing prepared the car.
In March 1988, 319 was exported from Italy to France, passing through the ownership of Guy Domet, a prominent collector whose garage also housed a Lancia Stratos and Lancia 037 Stradale. Domet was also the president of the Ferrari Club of France, owning a Ferrari 512 M, 206S and 365 GTB/4 Competizione — a true Ferraristi.
After Domet’s time with it, 319 remained in France, passing through the ownership of André Morel and Jean-Louis Déglise, until we purchased it earlier this year. Upon purchase, we immediately sent the car to the world-renowned Baldi twins in Turin — ex-Lancia Works mechanics known for their expertise in Lancia rally cars. There simply is no better workshop to inspect, service and maintain a Lancia 037 Group B rally car.
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