This Lancia Rally 037 Stradale Is Just Waiting For Your License Plate
Many of us will live long enough to say, “I remember when a road-going rally homologation special cost only a few hundred thousand Euros,” which sounds obscene until you hear stories of now-million-dollar machines trading for less than 10 grand. Who knows where the market will go, but one thing’s for certain: an 037 is going to be fun no matter what it’s worth.
Built back in the Group B era (didn’t recognize it without a Martini livery and spare tires on its roof, eh?) where manufacturers could have turned just about anything into a flame-spitting monster, the Lancia 037 is kinda, sorta, related to the Beta Montecarlo / Scorpion. Whereas the company’s frugal-yet-sporty mid-engined “personal coupe” had at most 120 horsepower when new (and just 83 in the U.S.), the 037 rolled through homologation with less weight, a beefier chassis, and a supercharged 2.0-litre, 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with 205 hp. (For competition, double that figure.) The production car’s center section was used, sure: but so were new steel subframes, composite body panels, a completely new suspension…you get the idea. A lot of the engineering magic was done by the Abarth works, a name that certainly holds weight even today, with road cars assembled at Pininfarina.
Did I mention this was to be the spiritual successor to the Stratos?
Within two years it’d won the World Rally Championship title for constructors ahead of the Audi quattro in 1983, the last two-wheel-drive machine to win the championship. Of course, its drivers—Walter Röhrl and Markku Alen—are nothing short of superhuman, but they had to win in something.
This 1982 037 Stradale, chassis 063, came off the “assembly line” at Pininfarina in red (the only official color), went to its first owner…and that’s pretty much it. Sold once more two years ago, between the pair it’s covered fewer than 34,000 kilometers, with the car “surely one of the nicest examples begging to return to the open road,” says RM Sotheby’s.
I’m not convinced any inanimate object is capable of begging for anything, but this driver’s car makes a compelling case to be, well, driven. If you’re using history as a guide, its engine is in the right place, the car is light, and the chassis is capable of winning against the might of quattro. As a plus, this Stradale hasn’t been modified “for anything beyond reliable road use” says the auction house, which is good to know if ever you’re fault tracing and wondering if something is factory or not.
It’s a vehicle that rarely comes to market in this condition, and so its estimate of between €335.000–€355.000 is, probably, an eyebrow raise. Do you collect the nicest 037 Stradale available and keep its mileage low, or spend a bit less on one you’re more comfortable leaving parked outside Chipotle?
Chassis no. ZLA151AR000000063
Engine no. 232AR400019
~205 horsepower, 1,995-cc DOHC supercharged inline four-cylinder engine with Bosch Kugelfisher fuel injection, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent double-wishbone suspension, and four-wheel Brembo/Abarth disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,240 mm