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1986 Lancia Delta S4 Corsa Group B

Winner of the 1986 Argentinian Rally with World Rally Champion Miki Biasion

Lancia Martini Racing Works entrant for Miki Biasion in the 1986 World Rally Championship

Abarth Classiche certified

Driven to victory twice by European Rally Champion Fabrizio Tabaton in 1986 — a championship-winning year!

550 bhp, supercharged and turbocharged, and 0–60 mph in 2.5 seconds on gravel — the ultimate fire-breathing rally car!

Chassis no. ZLA038AR0 00000209

+44 20 3621 2923

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 race 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 and 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 possible 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 World Rally-Winning Martini Racing Works Lancia Delta S4 Group B

The car offered here, chassis 209, was built by Abarth in early 1986, with its certificate of origin issued on 11 April. As with all Martini Racing Works Delta S4s, it was first registered to Fiat Auto Spa in Italy, with the Turin license ‘TO 73073E’.

This car made its competition debut at the 1986 Marlboro Rally of Argentina in early August, proudly wearing its iconic Lancia Martini Racing Works livery. The Lancia team was heading to Argentina confident, having entered three cars, with chassis 209 being assigned to the Italian pairing of Massimo ‘Miki’ Biasion and Tiziano Siviero. The 1986 year was a break-through one for Biasion. Having claimed both the Italian and European Rally Championships aboard an 037 in 1983, he also competed for the Jolly Club team in 037s throughout the World Rally Championship over the following three seasons. Having claimed several World Rally podium finishes, Biasion was promoted to a Lancia Works driver for 1986, driving the S4 — the most technologically advanced car of its day. The 1986 season was his for the taking!

The Argentinian rally was round eight of the 1986 World Rally Championship and, having learnt from previous events that the S4 could be tricky to handle on twisty roads, Lancia decided to fit wider front wheels (180 sections, the same as the rears, instead of 170) and to have the front tyres manually cut further, so that their contact patch on the road was smaller, improving turn-in grip. The Argentinian rally also featured many sandy sections, with Lancia fitting softer springs than previous rallies, but 2.0mm thicker anti-roll bars. These detail changes further prove that Group B rallying in the late 1980s was a fierce competition, with teams constantly working to improve their cars.

Based in the hills surrounding Cordoba, the centre of the country’s motor industry and the hub of motorsport in Argentina, the rally was, in theory, a winter event, but, with the daylight stages being held in 25-degree heat, many thought summer had arrived early!

At 12.94 kilometres long, the first stage was one of the event’s shortest, but Biasion was immediately at home, claiming victory over the sister S4 of 1978 World Champion Markku Alén, a trend which he continued over the entire event, despite experiencing difficulties with his power steering. Biasion recalled, “Fortunately, I was only 10 kilometres away from the finish line, but I remember my hands were bleeding when I ended the race. The car was impossible to drive without power steering”.

Miki Biasion and Lancia Martini Racing dominated, and by the end of Sunday, having completed over 2,000 kilometres in the Argentinian Pampas, they claimed seven stage victories to take the overall honours by 24 seconds! To demonstrate how dominating the S4 was, of the 26 special stages which made up the 1986 Argentinian Rally, a Lancia Delta S4 claimed a colossal 24 stage victories!

At the tender age of only 28, this was Miki Biasion’s first World Rally victory, in a career which would see him claim a further 15 victories with Lancia and two World Rally Championships, becoming the second driver in history to successfully defend his world title!

The Lancia Martini Works team next used chassis 209 as a backup car for 1978 World Rally Champion Markku Alén at the 1986 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland. At this time, the law in Finland prevented backup cars from wearing sponsorship decals, so the car was used in a plain white livery.

In October 1986, official Lancia Martini Works test and development driver Valter Rostagno took 209 to the Pino Superga Slalom to test its Formula One-style side skirts. The idea was to seal the underside of the Delta S4 to generate increased downforce, as pioneered in Formula One by Lotus designer Colin Chapman. Finished in white with Olio Vezza sponsorship and wearing race number 146, Rostagno and 209 took overall victory.

Three weeks later, during the last weekend in October, Fabrizio Tabaton and co-driver Luciano Tedeschini were fighting for the 1986 European Rally Championship and called upon 209 to compete in Rally Catalunya. Now owned by HF Grifone and finished in the iconic black and gold colours of Esso Super Oil, 209 was assigned race number 1. This was to be yet another dominant performance by 209, with Tabaton taking victory, his fifth of the season, and claiming the 1986 European Rally Championship!

With the end of the Group B era looming by the second half of 1986, chassis 209 made its final appearance in November at a European Rally Championship event, Rallye di San Marino, where it was again driven by the newly crowned European Rally Champion Fabrizio Tabaton and wore the Esso Super Oil colours. In keeping with its previous three competition appearances, 209 was dominant, allowing Tabaton to once again claim outright victory by 43 seconds!

During 1986, 209 entered one World Rally, two European Championship rallies and one slalom, with the only consistency being its result, 1st overall on all four occasions! Truly remarkable!

With the fearsome Group B category coming to an end in 1986, this Delta S4 was sold to Gerard Paquet, an enthusiastic and accomplished rally driver in France. Although Group B cars were banned from competition at an international level, they were still eligible for smaller events around Europe, which is where Paquet chose to exercise 209. The pair’s first outing was at the 1987 Course de Côte Mont-Dore, where, once again, 209 claimed victory.

Paquet and 209 continued to compete for several years, before the S4 was bought in 2000 by a Japanese collector, who regularly showed it at Lancia meetings, including the Japanese Lancia Lunch with Miki Biasion in 2006. During its time in Japan, this S4 was also the focus of two magazine articles and featured on the cover of Rally Lancia Impression. Copies of these magazines are contained within the car’s impressive history file.

In September 2014, this Delta S4 received its FIA papers, before being bought by its current owner the following year. Joining a growing collection of cars, this S4 continued to be shown and demonstrated at various events, including being reunited once again with Miki Biasion at the 2017 Vernasca Silver Flag Hillclimb.

Importantly, this Delta S4 was inspected and certified by Abarth Classiche in May 2017, which confirmed it to be original and the correct specification. Then, later that year, it was also invited to participate at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Lancia Delta S4 is one of, if not the, most iconic World Rally cars, and of the 28 chassis built, 209 is one of only four to have ever won a World Rally event. Double World Rally Champion Miki Biasion claimed his maiden World Rally victory behind the wheel of 209, quickly followed by Fabrizio Tabaton, who claimed two European Rally victories and the 1986 European Rally Championship aboard 209!

Chassis 209 represents a very rare and special opportunity to obtain one of the most significant Group B World Rally cars.


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