Page 1 of 3 Next >> From the start of the 1982 season, the World Rally Championship was run under the newly introduced Group B regulations. The most profound change compared to the Group 4 regulations previously used was the reduction of the homologation requirement from 400 cars to just 200; low enough for manufacturers to consider purpose building a rally car from the ground up and offering a street legal version to meet the homologation requirements. Another important element in the regulations was a variable minimum weight in relation to the engine's displacement, which opened Group B to a wide range of machinery.
Among the first manufacturers to set about developing a Group B rally was Lancia with the help of Abarth, which had become the Fiat group's competition department. Abarth had also created the Fiat 131 Group 4 car, which had scored three World Rally Championships in four years during the late 1970s. Although very loosely based on the Beta Monte Carlo, primarily for marketing purposes, the new Group B machine was initially simply dubbed the Lancia Rally. It has, however, become famous as the Lancia 037, which is a reference to the Abarth's project number for this program; SE037.
Carried over from the Montecarlo road car was the centre section of the monocoque chassis. Welded to either end of the cockpit were bespoke steel tubular subframes, onto which all the major running gear was bolted. Suspension was by double wishbones on all four corners with twin dampers at the rear to ensure the car could survive the strains of rallying. The rolling chassis was clothed in a Kevlar composite body that bore only a passing resemblance to the Montecarlo road car. The very compact machine had short overhangs and the competition version featured a prominent spoiler on the tail to provide the necessary downforce.
Also derived from a production unit was the two-litre, four-cylinder engine. As first used in the Fiat 131 Group 4, the Abarth version of the Fiat twin-cam engine featured a sixteen-valve head. Equipped with a supercharger, it was mounted longitudinally in the 037 and not transversely as in the Montecarlo. In competition trim, it produced around 280 bhp, while the de-tuned 'Stradale' road car boasted a 205 bhp version. Using the 1.4x equivalency factor for turbocharged engines, the Lancia 037 fell in the 3,000 cc category, which meant it could tip the scales at 960kg, which the purpose-built machine duly did. Page 1 of 3 Next >>