001/037: Hill-Climbing In The Swiss Alps With The First Production Kimera Automobili EVO37
Photography by Luca Danilo Orsi
The sharp side of the restomod market has never been more interesting or populous than it’s been over the past decade. Building high-quality, high-performance, and high-price reinterpretations is a competitive game these days, but there is still space to stand out. You can use all the exotic materials and harness all the horsepower in the world, but the special cars are defined by the less tangible aspects.
And then there are cars like the Kimera Automobili EVO37 that seem to have it all. Equal parts homage and evolution, the present and the past informing each other. Balancing technological superiority with attention and respect to historical detail is the bane of most/lesser restomods, and when the subject matter is one of the most fervently canonized rally cars ever made, striking that balance is all but a fool’s errand.
But Kimera founder Luca Betti is no fool, and his Turin-based company has created something brilliantly unique yet lovably familiar in the form of this carbon fiber wedge that pays its respects to the 1983 WRC-winning Lancia 037.
The performance capability of the Kimera EVO37 is modern, mind-boggling, but with a provenance that’s traceable more than forty years into the past. This somehow-harmonious dichotomy is present throughout the vehicle but summed up perfectly in the powertrain: using the same block design with the same 2111cc-capacity as the original Group B-rallying Lancia 037 from the early 1980s, the Kimera EVO37’s engine build was carried out by Italtecnica and overseen by Claudio Lombardi himself, ex-Ferrari F1 honcho, and the engineer behind some of Lancia’s winningest rally engines, including the 037 and Delta S4.
And speaking of Lancia’s own evolution of the 037—the Delta S4—the Kimera EVO37’s motor achieves its remarkable output of over 500hp and 550Nm of torque thanks to a forced induction system inspired by the Delta S4’s supercharged and turbocharged setup.
The story is similar below the surface of the carbon fiber bodywork. The predominantly tube-frame chassis is based around and integrated with the central cell of the comparatively very humble Lancia Beta Montecarlo (just like the original 037’s was), but the front and rear structures holding the powertrain and suspension mounts are unique to the EVO37.
The suspension itself follows the same technical designs as the original 037–including the dual shock absorbers per side in the rear, but utilizes modern components and materials to enhance rather than replace the characteristics of the Lancia. There are three pedals, six forward gears, and two drive wheels, in case you’re wondering.
The bodywork is lightweight carbon fiber; expected at this price point (over 500,000 euros each, and all 37 examples supposedly spoken for…), but still impressive. The overall length has increased versus the 1982 car, the wheels and arches have grown larger as well, but the proportions of the EVO37 are at least as evocative as its forefather’s.
The rear wing can only be described as unabashed. The box arches are distinctive and un-shallow. The quarter window intakes look like a giant’s shaving attachments. The Speedline-inspired wheels are huge compared to yesteryear, but they fit right in with the rest of the outrageous shapes that gel into this unconventional beauty. The homage is a good one, and better yet, the fit and finish is miles better here compared to the 1980s standards for homologation specials.
What you’re looking at in these photos is the very first Kimera Automobili EVO37 delivered to its owner, serial number 001/037, named Esmeralda and wearing a verdant coat of metallic green paint around a tan leather and green Alcantara interior. The car was delivered earlier this month, details about the project went public late last year, but the realization of all this work goes back to 2013, when Luca Betti formed Kimera Automobili as a classic restoration company.
His scope grew over the years, an idea took hold, and years later the hard work of development and testing the EVO37 has paid off. Owning one won’t be cheap—and you’ll have to buy used at this point—but there are far worse ways to spend half a million euros. Of course, the cars are totally customizable in terms of colors and finishes, and interior materials from the smallest screws to the color of each textile.
The owner of 001/037, a massive enthusiast and collector who wishes to remain anonymous, met Betti two years ago at an event in St. Moritz, “Passione Engadina”, when the project to realize the EVO37 had just begun in earnest. He was among the first to believe in the venture undertaken by Betti and co, so much so that he followed all the development phases of the project—not just empty words of support.
Now, two years after that meeting, the time had come to officially hand over the car, and what better place than where the relationship began? The car was delivered to St. Moritz for the owner to take delivery downtown at the Chopard boutique and do some shakedown driving in the high altitude alpine passes. I am a fan of the specification he chose, but one detail stood out above all to me: the original, patina’d Lancia badge on the radiator grill from the Beta Montecarlo donor-car used for the realization of the EVO37.
The official handover of the keys was set to take place in the town center where the EVO37 was to be exhibited together with another EVO37 (wearing the Pirelli 150-year livery in the pictures below), but Betti decided to go a step further by taking the car directly to the airport to surprise its new owner on the runway.
Every detail is taken care of with attention, the car is brought directly to where the plane will taxi to. A red carpet is rolled out, as one does for special occasions. A cover is pulled, eyes and smiles widen, the legacy of the 037 not only lives on, but is built upon.