We all love a homologation special. Cars built by manufacturers so desperate to win that they don’t mind palming off fast, but heavily compromised, race cars for the road on their loyalists. True, modern examples like the GR Yaris are more refined and less likely to spontaneously combust, but back in the Group B era homologation specials were utterly brutal.
In fact, they were so closely related to their rally counterparts that many were bought by privateer teams and converted to full competition spec. A bit like the Lancia 037 Rally Stradale. Production numbers vary, though the consensus is that 207 road-going 037 were built for homologation. Only slight modifications were needed to bring it up to rally standards, so a fair chunk of that number ended up tearing around muddy roads in the middle of nowhere.
So when a stock example turns up in the PH classifieds, it’s going to grab our attention. The Stradale’s recipe is simple, yet effective. The centre cell is taken from the Montecarlo, with steel tubular frames bolted on to the front and rear, along with quadrilateral suspension that allowed for a wider range of setup options. This was long before the days of carbon fibre in rallying, with much of the bodywork being made of Kevlar.
The Abarth-badged 2.0-litre supercharged inline four is closely linked to the unit in the back of the Montecarlo, although it was rotated 90 degrees and mounted longitudinally. Power was cranked up to 205hp, but the same unit in the rally car was capable of 280hp. Of course, power was sent to the rear wheels which, as we now know, is not the ideal layout for a rally car - but Lancia still managed to bag the 1983 Constructor’s Championship against the mighty all-wheel drive Audi Quattro. To this day, the 037 is the last rear-wheel drive car to win the World Rally Championship – a record that’s unlikely to be broken.
Hilariously, the interior is as spartan as they come. There’s a dashboard with some dials, a couple of vents and a centre console with a sea of buttons that aren’t labelled. You do, however, get corduroy seats and a bit of carpeting on the floor and doors for a touch of luxury. But, really, isn’t that all you need? You’ll be far too busy pretending to be Walter Rohl to care about the exposed roll cage and, well, not a lot else, really.
All 037s left the factory in Rosso Corsa, but something’s a bit off with this one. Mainly because it’s blue. Now, respraying an ultra-limited homologation special is sacrilegious, but we might let this one slide. In 2017, while undergoing major restoration work, the car was repainted in Blu Lagos, a colour only available on the limited-run Lancia Delta, er, Blu Lagos edition. It takes a brave person to respray an 037, but, you’ve got to admit, it does look pretty damn good.
What else did they do? Well, the engine and gearbox have undergone a full rebuild, as has the suspension. A new clutch and flywheel were fitted, along with new brakes, pads and a fresh set of Michelins. But it’s not like the car has had a hard life, covering just 6,000 miles since it left the factory in 1983. It’s not like the respray has had any effect on the value, either. It’s listed at £674,950, which is about on par with recent auction prices. It’s a wonder why values haven’t reached seven figures yet. It probably won’t be long, though…
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