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     Delta S4 Group B
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  Lancia Delta S4 Group B
 

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1985 - 1986
Numbers built:200 (all versions)
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 20, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter going through a difficult period in the 1970s due to the various fuel crises, international motorsport returned with a vengeance in the 1980s. A variety of technical innovations led to the development of some of the most outrageous track and rally racers. For the 1982 season, the sport's governing body, the FIA, regrouped the various classes into Group A for high production derived racers to Group C for prototypes. The World Rally Championship would be held for Group B cars, which replaced the Group 4 rules of the previous seasons.

These rule changes inspired Lancia to return to the sport, the sport they had previously dominated with their Fulvia and Stratos. There was a homologation requirement of 200 examples and there were four displacement divisions with their own minimum weight ranging from 820 kg for the 2000 cc group to 1100 kg for the 4000 cc group. For forced induction engines there was a 1.4 equivalency factor. Lancia took the rules very literally and designed a new rally car from the ground up. To meet the homologation requirements 200 slightly downtuned versions would be available to the public.

Following lessons learned with the Stratos rally car and the Beta road racer, a mid-engined layout was chosen for the '037'. The two litre engine was derived from the successful Fiat Abarth 131 and supercharged for the occasion. Power was transferred to the rear wheels only as the Lancia engineers felt the Audi pioneered four wheel drive system to be too complex. Ease of access was one of the key ingredients of the design; the gearbox could be changed in twelve minutes. The nimble Lancia's handling was unmatched, but the lack of four wheel drive and the lack of power from the supercharged engined were big handicaps. Nevertheless many wins were scored between 1982 and 1985 and Lancia clinched the Constructor's crown in 1983.

While the 037s gave the Audis and later Peugeots a good run for their money, the Lancia and Abarth people were busy on something very special. For marketing purposes the new rally car somewhat followed the lines of the recently launched, Giugiaro designed Delta. That's about where the similarities stopped. This time the engineers really started with a clean sheet as every part of the 'Delta S4' was purpose built. Again the emphasis was on ease of access to allow for quick repairs, which were frequently required. Some of the accessibility was sacrificed when the designers opted for a four wheel drive system.

The all aluminium 1.8 litre four cylinder engine was the most advanced of its era and featured a Supercharger and a Turbocharger. This provided the engine with plenty of low end torque as well as nearly 500 bhp at 8400 rpm. Compared to the contemporary F1 cars these figures might not sound very impressive, but these engines could be cold-started without external assistance in arctic conditions and survive the continuous abuse on the roughest terrain. The four cylinder unit was installed longitudinally behind the passenger compartment in a steel spaceframe chassis. The gearbox and transfer case for the four wheel drive system were mounted in front of the engine, so all the weight was concentrated between the two axles.

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  Article Image gallery (10) Specifications User Comments (4)