1985 Lancia Delta S4 Corsa Group B
- Lancia Martini Racing Works history and Abarth Classiche certified
- Winner of the 1986 Rally 1000 Miglia with reigning European Rally Champion, Dario Cerrato
- Driven by World Rally Champions, Markku Alen and Mikki Biasion
- 550 bhp, supercharged and turbocharged, and 0–60 mph in 2.5 seconds on gravel — the ultimate fire-breathing rally car!
- The first car to feature revolutionary ‘twin-charging’, The most technologically advanced car of its day
Lancia, Group B and the Delta S4
In 1983, Lancia claimed the World Rally Manufacturers’ Championship with the renowned two-wheel drive Lancia Rally ‘037’, which dominated the four-wheel-drive Audi Quattro. In the same year, future World Rally Champion Miki Biasion claimed both Italian and European Rally Championships with a Lancia 037.
The following season was a different story. Thanks to near-endless budgets, the rate of development within the World Rally Championship during this Group B era was phenomenal. The Audi-pioneered four-wheel-drive system began to improve, and after much development, at the end of 1985, Lancia unveiled the ultimate rally car, the Delta S4 Corsa Group B.
The S4’s rear-located, backward-facing, longitudinally positioned, four-cylinder, double overhead cam engine was the first ever to feature ‘twin-charging’, thanks to both mechanical- (Abarth Volumex supercharger) and exhaust- (KKK turbo) driven compressors forcing air into its cylinders. The engine fitted to the 037 was capable of producing in the region of 350 bhp, but the Delta S4 was immediately producing 480 bhp, with some claiming as much as 600 bhp before the Group B era came to an end.
Lancia was looking at every detail, ensuring it was constructing the best car and working with the best companies to develop the best components. With an engine this powerful, Lancia worked with gearbox specialist Hewland to design a magnesium-cased gearbox with unsynchronised dog gears. The limited-slip differentials were built by ZF, the ‘go-to’ company, with varying locking ratios depending on the rally and driver’s preference.
The suspension design and layout were taken largely from the hugely successful and effective Rally 037, with each suspension arm having several fixing points, allowing for quick and precise setup changes, sometimes even between stages. Lancia had clearly identified the strong points from the preceding Rally 037, ensuring that weak points were enhanced, ultimately creating a stronger all-round package to take on the other factory-backed teams, including Ford, Peugeot and Audi.
Despite being a fearsome, world-conquering, fire-breathing monster of a rally car, the Delta S4 Corsa Group B is surprisingly easy to drive. Thanks largely to its servo-assisted steering, the car really is straightforward to manoeuvre: there’s no heavy clutch, the throttle’s smooth and progressive, and the gearbox is possibly the sweetest ever built!
The S4 was, and still is, the ultimate Group B rally monster. It was the most technologically advanced rally car of all time, born into an era where resources were near-endless and the teams all pushed for one thing: more speed, that is until they became “too fast to race”. The S4 was the extreme, the ultimate and the last of its kind. It provided performance beyond human control. Never again have we witnessed such speed, power and fury as in the Group B era.
Rallying was never the same.
This Rally-Winning Lancia Delta S4 Group B
The car offered here, chassis 208, was built by Abarth in late 1985, making its first appearance in Finland, where it was used for testing ahead of the Monte Carlo and Swedish World Rally Championship events. Finished in Lancia Martini Racing colours, this S4 was tested by 1978 World Rally Champion, Markku Alen, and soon-to-be double World Rally Champion, Miki Biasion, alongside Abarth test driver, Giorgio Pianta. Testing with this Delta S4 Corsa Group B with the Lancia Martini Racing team continued throughout October, November and December 1985. It can be assumed that testing was a success, with Henri Toivonen winning the 1986 Rally Automobile Monte Carlo in a sister works Lancia Delta S4!
Once its Lancia Martini Racing testing duties were complete, this Delta S4 was assigned to the semi-works Jolly Club team and refinished in ToTip livery. Its first competitive outing was the 1986 Rally 1000 Miglia, held from the 20th to 23rd March. On Italian soil, and wearing race number 1, this S4 was driven by reigning European Rally Champion, Dario Cerrato, with Giuseppe Cerri calling the notes. The pairing dominated, winning the event comfortably over the sister Lancia of Giacomo Bossini and Ugo Pasotti.
After its impressive debut victory, this S4 was reunited with Dario Cerrato and Giuseppe Cerri, this time wearing race number 2, at the 1986 Rally Costa Smeralda – Trfeo Martini, from 16th to the 18th April. Based in the Italian seaside resort in Northern Sardinia or Porto Cervo, the rally consisted of thirty five stages, with a total event length of nearly 550 km. Having claimed victory in three of the special stages, Cerrato crossed the finished line to finish 3rd overall, bettered only by the works Lancia Martini Racing Delta S4 of Henri Toivonen, and the works Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 of Andrea Zanussi. In fourth was the future European Rally Champion, Fabrizio Tabaton in his Lancia Delta S4, with Massimo Ercolani finishing 5th in the sister Jolly Club Lancia Delta S4.
A few days after its podium finish in Sardinia, on 22nd April 1986, this Lancia Delta S4 was registered in Italy, being assigned the license (Targa in Italian) ‘TO 77892E’. As with all works-owned Delta S4’s, this car was first registered to Fiat Auto SPA, Turin, Italy. Later in the month, this S4 was prominently displayed at the Turin Motor Show, alongside the sister S4, chassis 204, on the Lancia stand.
For the remained of the 1986 season, this Delta S4 remained with the Jolly Club team as a test car for events in the World, European and Italian Rally Championships. Dario Cerrato claiming the 1986 Italian Rally Championship, a campaign which began with victory at the Rally 1000 Miglia in this Lancia Delta S4 Corsa Group B.
With the fearsome Group B category coming to an end in 1986, this Delta S4 was sold to Augusto Cesari, an enthusiastic and accomplished driver in Italy. Although Group B cars were banned from competition at an international level, they were still eligible for smaller events around Europe, which is where Cesari chose to exercise 208, entering the 1987 and 1988 Campionato Italiano Velocita Montagna (Italian Hill Climb Championship).
In 2001 this Delta S4 was purchased by famed Italian, and Lancia rally car collector, Antonio Da Rios, where it was displayed in his private museum. Having owned no fewer than seven Lancia Delta S4s, Da Rios was well placed to maintain this S4 in the best possible way. During this ownership, the Delta S4 was reunited with Dario Cerrato and Giuseppe Cerri who used it as a Course Car at the 2005 Rally Porec.
After six years, this Delta S4 passed to Lucio Savino Giovanni Peruggini in Foggia, Italy. Peruggini bought the car to compete, entering and winning many events, even becoming an internet sensation by regularly filming onboard footage of him commanding this rocket ship across the Italian countryside.
As a collector and enthusiast, Peruggini ensured this Lancia Delta S4 was awarded both its Lancia Club Certificato Di Identita and Automoto Club Storico Italian Certificato Di Indentita in 2009. In 2010 the engine was rebuilt by some of Lancia’s most famed mechanics, including the Baldi twins in Turin, and in 2015 was tested on a rolling road, with power output confirmed to be 548.9 CV at 8,074 rpm, and perhaps more impressively, 566 Nm at 5,900 rpm!
In early 2016, this Lancia Delta S4 Corsa Group B joined The Campion Collection, from where it is offered today. During Campions ownership, the car has been fastidiously maintained regardless of cost, being inspected and certified by Abarth Classiche in October 2017.
Upon arrival to The Campion Collection, this S4 was painted in the Jolly Club ToTip livery in which it competed in 1986. Once the early factory Lancia Martini Racing testing history was confirmed, Campion decided to have the car professionally wrapped in its factory Lancia Martini Racing colours, not only protective the ToTip colours underneath, but also allowing the new owner the choice to maintain the car in Lancia Martini colours, or to have it in Jolly Club ToTip colours – the choice is all yours!
During its time in The Campion Collection, this Delta S4 has been displayed at the famed Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where it was awarded Best in Class, and featured in a Petrolicious video ‘A Ballet of Brutality’.
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