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Which is your favourite Lancia 037 Group B rally livery?

26 January 2021

by Alex Easthope

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The livery maketh the racing car? We certainly think so. The Lancia 037 Rally Group B is a great case in point – it might have been dominant on the special stages, but it’s hard to separate its legend from the colourful and evocative liveries in which it competed, from Totip to Martini. Which begs the question: which is your favourite?

Airlines, oil giants, cigarette companies, men’s fragrances and energy drinks. It’s amazing how relatively mundane household names have made for motorsport’s most exciting and evocative liveries over the decades. Eye-catching colours, bold graphics and instantly recognisable logos joining forces to create powerful brand forces, both literally and figuratively, which transcended the world of cars.

“Eye-catching colours, bold graphics and instantly recognisable logos joining forces to create powerful brand forces, both literally and figuratively, which transcended the world of cars.”

From Rothmans and Marlboro to Denim and Fly Saudia, the 1980s witnessed the most memorable colour schemes and sponsors, predominantly in Formula 1 and endurance racing, but also in rallying. And as what we believe this trio of Group B Lancia 037s demonstrates, the pioneering marque from Turin was a trailblazer in this department.

You’ll know that the pretty Pininfarina-designed 037 Group B is a car that’s close to our hearts, which is why the opportunity to take these three significant examples – two semi-Works cars we have had the pleasure of selling and Max’s beloved ex-Toivonen Evo 2 – to an airfield for an impromptu photo call last summer was too good to pass up. “For me,” comments Max, “the Lancia 037 is the greatest rally car of them all.

“Everyone talks about the Delta S4, which is probably the ultimate, but there’s just something about that sleek body, the sound of the engine, the legends who drove it and the simple fact that it’s rear-wheel drive. Plus Olio Fiat, Totip and Martini & Rossi – to have these three liveries together was such an evocative sight.”

The Olio Fiat-sponsored 037 was finished in the dark blue and yellow colours of Fiat’s lubricants subsidiary for the 1984 Rallye Sanremo, the 10th round of that year’s World Rally Championship. The Italian hotshot Fabrizio Tabaton drove the alongside Luciano Tedeschini, the pair finishing an impressive fourth overall, behind only the four-wheel-drive Peugeot 205 T16 of Ari Vatanen and the Lancia 037s of Miki Biasion and Attilio Bettega.

While Tabaton would go on to win the Italian and European Rally Championships, Sanremo in 1984 remained his best World Rally Championship finish. That’s why we chose to have the famed Baldi twins in Turin restore the car to its Rallye Sanremo specification, complete with Olio Fiat livery, before we advertised the car for sale back in 2019.

Randomly, after the Olio Fiat logo prominently appeared on a Toyota Group C car in 1987, Japanese enthusiasts festooned their Toyota Celicas, Soarers and Mark IIs with the very same emblem.

We’re thrilled to have found the perfect new home for the Totip-liveried car. It’s one of the 20 Lancia 037s built to full-fat Evo 2 specification, and was driven to sixth overall at the 1984 Monte-Carlo Rally by the (future) double World Rally Champion Miki Biasion. If you haven’t watched our video of Max driving this quasi-Works Jolly Club car by the scruff of its neck at the famous Campovolo airfield in Turin while nonchalantly explaining what that feels like, you should do that. Right now.

Very similar in application to the Works Martini livery, the distinctive green and orange stripes over the 037’s low-slung white body are complemented by green Totip logos. But do you know actually know what Totip is?

“Most car-minded people would identify Totip with Lancia,” continues Max, “but I bet 90-percent of them don’t know what it is, which goes to show how powerful a livery can be.” Totip was in fact a national sports betting game in Italy, which could be played in tobacconists across the country.

“We might be biased, but we reckon the greatest application of the Martini livery can be found on the Lancia 037. Preferably caked in mud or snow.”

Then, of course, there’s the red, white and blue of Martini & Rossi. Iconic is a word that’s bandied around a lot these days, but in the case of this longstanding Italian motorsport patron, it’s entirely warranted. And we might be biased, but we reckon the greatest application of the Martini livery can be found on the Lancia 037. Preferably caked in mud or snow.

For Max, this 037 is sacred. A Works Martini Racing Evo II, it was driven – or should we say flown? – by Henri Toivonen to third overall at the 1984 Rally of 1000 Lakes in Finland. The grainy and oversaturated footage of the Finn dancing around hairpins and flying over countless ‘yumps’ is simply spellbinding. It’s as good a reminder of the magical Group B era as any. Suffice to say, Max says he’ll never sell it.

“Marlboro might be more mainstream,” Max concludes, “but then you have to remember that in the 1980s, more people were watching rallying than they were Formula 1. In my opinion, liveries never quite reached the same heights again.”

Photos: Tom Gidden and Alex Tapley

Click here to find out more about the Olio Fiat-liveried 1983 Lancia 037 Rally Group B or click here to discover more about the Totip-liveried 1984 Lancia 037 Rally Evo 2 Group B, both of which we have had the pleasure of selling.

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