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Reliving Rally Glory in the Lancia 037

lancia 037
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The mid-engine Lancia 037 was the last rear-wheel-drive car to claim the World Rally Championship back in 1983, defeating the high-tech Audi Quattros. This lightweight, nimble machine embodied the final evolution of traditional rally car design before four-wheel-drive and significant aerodynamics became mandatory.

An Unlikely Champion Over All-Wheel-Drive Rivals

The limited-production 037 triumphed when the Lancia Stratos ended its successful WRC run, surprising the motorsports world by fending off the formidable Audi Quattro which debuted its advanced all-wheel-drive tech. The 037 displayed the pinnacle of rear-drive, low-aero rally machines. Its supercharged engine, featherweight body and perfect chassis balance allowed gifted drivers like Walter Röhrl to slide within inches of barriers at over 100 mph. The Lancia 037 proved obsolete almost as soon as it claimed victory, yet still showcased masterful design.

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Thrilling Drivers With Raw Performance

While underpowered by today’s standards at only 205 HP, the mid-mounted engine sent the 2,100-lb 037 rocketing from 0-60 in just 5.5 seconds. Lacking electronic assists, its massive torque and RWD layout made the 037 a handful to control at the limit. Drivers had to perfectly match revs on rapid gear changes to mitigate massive turbo lag off corners. Managing the 037’s temperamental power and planted rear was reserved only for the most skilled pilots.

Treacherous Nature Demanded Expert Finesse

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The Lancia 037’s nasty oversteer and laggy powerband made it incredibly challenging to drive fast, especially on loose surfaces. Rally stages constantly changed grip levels corner to corner, compressions would unsettle the rear, and narrow lanes provided little margin. Racing at 10/10ths in the 037 required immense concentration and car control. Drivers had to simultaneously modulate delicate throttle inputs to manage slip angles while avoiding danger. Traction control systems that modern rally cars rely on were still years away in the early 80s. Lancia 037 pilots persisted on sheer car sense and courage.

Barely Street Legal Race Car Origins

Because FIA Group B rules mandated a minimum production run of 200 road cars, Lancia had to adapt the 037 from a pure race car design into a vehicle barely street legal enough to meet homologation requirements. It retained the bare essentials for licensing like headlights, taillights, glass windows and fiscal horsepower ratings. Spartan details included fixed-back racing buckets, no interior lining or sound insulation and no amenities beyond a speedometer and basic switches. Its temperamental nature and race gearing made the 037 unpleasant to drive on public roads. Most owners put them straight into climate controlled storage, trailering them to events rather than actually driving them on streets.

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Iconic Styling Harkening Back to Glory Days

The Lancia 037’s instantly recognizable silhouette made it a motorsports icon of the 1980s. Its angular profile featured huge fender arches, front and rear spoilers plus an extendable front splitter. Dramatic red, yellow and green racing liveries complemented its racy appearance. While built for outright performance, the 037 still maintained signature Lancia design elegance rooted in historic models like the Fulvia coupe. Even parked, the 037 captures imagination with its striking rally warrior presence.

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Cementing Legacy Through Giant Killing Act

While the fire-breathing Group B cars quickly stole the headlines in early 1980s WRC, the 037 prevailed when it mattered most. Beating the ultra-potent, all-paw Quattros on their WRC debut proved immense. Lancia and the 037 will forever be linked to that historic world championship victory against the odds. It was the last old-school rear-driver that conquered the planet’s toughest rally stages before AWD and rocketship power took over. In the David vs Goliath world of rallying, the 037 stands as a monumental giant killer.

The Lancia 037 earned its reputation through sheer talent beating superior machines. Its allure and history make experiencing this Italian legend a dream for enthusiasts worldwide decades later seeking to relive rally glory days. Mastering the notorious 037 even today delivers an unmatched, tail-sliding adrenaline rush.

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