Winner of the 1984 Tour de Corse in the hands of the 1978 title-winner Markku Alén
A Works Lancia Martini Racing entry in three rounds of the 1984 World Rally Championship
The final Lancia 037 Rally – and thus the final rear-wheel-drive Group B car – to win a World Rally Championship event
One of five Lancia 037s and the only Evo 2-specification example to win a WRC rally
Abarth Classiche certified, and accompanied by an extensively researched and generously illustrated history file
The Lancia 037 Rally Evo 2
The beautiful 037 Rally was a true thoroughbred, honed by Lancia’s racing department in collaboration with Abarth and Pininfarina in order to do one thing: win rallies. And win rallies the Lancia 037 did.
Thanks to head engineer Aurelio Lampredi’s novel use of supercharging, which largely eliminated the lag suffered by its turbocharged rivals, along with its lightweight clamshell body design that drastically reduced servicing time and a squadron of hot-shoed drivers, the 037 fulfilled its destiny, winning the World Rally Championship in 1983. It was the final rear-wheel-drive car in history to do so.
In order to keep up with the rapid rate of development – and thus speed – of its bitter rivals, Lancia’s engineering wizards dug deep in their lockers ahead of the 1984 season to produce the most potent 037 of them all: the Evo 2.
Not only was the engine enlarged from 1,995cc to 2,111cc, but it also benefitted from a new inlet manifold and exhaust system designed to increase airflow to a newly designer supercharger housing. The result was 325bhp at a dizzying 8,000rpm. Oh, Lancia also did away with the rear bumper leaving the heart of the beast tantalisingly visible. It’s the Evo 2’s most obvious tell.
This Lancia 037 Rally Evo 2
One of the 20 full-fat 037 Rally Evo 2s constructed by Lancia, the car featured is chassis number 416. Issued with the Turin registration ‘TO W67785’ on 2 November 1983, it was earmarked as part of the armada of 037s with which Lancia was planning to defend its World Manufacturers’ Championship crown in 1984.
The 30 notoriously challenging special stages of the Monte-Carlo Rally were the World Rally Championship’s first port of call in 1984. Chassis 416 was assigned to Lancia Martini Racing’s lead duo, the 1978 champion Markku Alén and his Finnish compatriot-slash-co-driver Ilkka Kivimäki.
Facing the might of the newfangled four-wheel-drive Audi Quattros at a Monte-Carlo Rally that, for the first time in five years, was blanketed by snow, Alén was bullish ahead of the start. “Last year I had a two-litre engine but now I have a 2.1,” he explained, “I have 25 horsepower more, a bigger compressor and 20kg less in the car – I’m very happy.”
Amid constantly changing conditions, varying from sheet ice to thick snow, the Lancias were outgunned by the Audis. Nonetheless, Alén finished an admirable eighth overall, concluding a weekend Lancia was keen to forget.
It wasn’t until May and the fifth round of the season, the 28th Tour de Corse, that chassis 416 was afforded the chance to restore the honour of its maker. Once again, Alén took the reins and Kivimäki read the pace notes. And this time around, the car and the conditions worked in perfect harmony, Alén winning the rally by over four minutes.
That year’s Tour de Corse was notable for witnessing the competitive debut of both the Peugeot 205 T16 and the Audi Sport Quattro S1, not that either of the flame-spitting titans could stop Alén and his Martini-liveried Lancia 037. The occasion would go down in motorsport history as the sole win for an Evo 2-specification example of the hallowed rear-wheel-drive model.
In August, Alén and Kivimäki looked to steal the headlines once again with chassis 416. The event was the fearsome Rally of the 1000 Lakes in Finland, where the knee-deep gravel and huge, never-ending ‘yumps’ wreak havoc on the cars and their drivers. While Ari Vatanen clinched the maiden victory for Peugeot Talbot Sport and its mighty little 205 T16, Alén drove this Lancia in a manner that, frankly, he had no right to do, finishing an incredible second overall.
The 1984-85 edition of the Rallycourse annual sums up Alén’s performance perfectly. “Markku should not have been where he was. The two-wheel-drive 037 should not have been beating much more powerful Audi Quattro Sports, but sometimes determination and commitment can make up for such mechanical deficits. It was a virtuoso display.”
The Works honourably retired chassis 416 following its podium in Finland, calling on the car only for Pirelli tyre testing duties ahead of Rallye de Portugal in 1985. For the occasion, this 037 was refinished in an experimental red livery promoting Martini Rosso. The change was the idea of Lancia’s test-driver Giorgio Pianta, though it wasn’t adopted for fear of the sponsors not showing up in what were then predominantly black-and-white newspapers and magazines.
In October of 1985, Fiat Auto S.p.A. loaned this 037 to the West Lancia Team for use in the four remaining rounds in that year’s European Rally Championship. Finished in a striking West livery and driven by the Italian pairing of Mauro Pregliasco and Daniele Cianci, chassis 416’s best finish was third overall at Rallye d’Antibes.
The following year, in 1986, this Lancia made three further appearances in the European Rally Championship, this time under the semi-Works Jolly Club banner. Once again, the car’s best finish was third overall, in the hands of Paolo and Alessandro Alessandrini at the 27th Rali Vinho da Madeira.
The Works retained possession of this Lancia 037 until 1989, when it was sold to Alessandrini Racing Srl in Modena, Italy. Chassis 416 passed through the hands of several further Italian owners and, in 2016, received its full Abarth Classiche certification following an inspection.
In 2019, while in the possession of its previous owner, this 037 was delivered to the renowned Lancia specialists at University Motors in Padova for a mechanical inspection and service. Works to the engine included the fitment of new piston rings, oil seals, gaskets and supercharger belts. Works elsewhere included the replacement of the fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters, clutch and fire extinguisher. Four new Pirelli tyres were also fitted.
Before we delivered the car to its new owner, who took custody earlier this year, we sent chassis 416 to the renowned Baldi twins in Turin, the foremost rally Lancia experts in the world, for thorough inspection and further mechanical overhaul. We subsequently sent the car to PubbliMais to be repainted and finished in its 1984 Tour de Corse Lancia Martini Racing livery. The Torinese company famously did the liveries for all Lancia’s Works competition cars through the decades – who better to restore this 037 to its former visual glory?
While researching the fascinating history of this Lancia 037 Rally Evo 2, we spent what felt like hours hypnotised by the footage from the 1985 World Rally Championship, both from the official review coverage and spectators wielding camcorders beside the stages. For us, it’s peak Group B – enormous crowds boiling over with feverish excitement, wildly powerful cars being driven at speeds which defy physics by true titans, each with his or her own distinctive personality.
It was simply magical, and this Lancia was right in the thick of it, prominently visible in all the videos, photographs and magazine reports, as you’d expect being driven by the team’s number one driver Markku Alén. Chassis 416’s significance as the final Lancia 037 to win a World Rally Championship event cannot be downplayed. That it’s the only ultimate-specification Evo 2 model and the final rear-wheel-drive Group B car to have won a world rally only bolsters this ex-Works car’s desirability.
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