Development on the 037 began in 1980, with Lancia aiming to produce a competent successor to the high-flying Lancia Stratos HF. The framework came together and the Italian recipe held its own, nabbing the 1983 World Rally Championship constructors’ title. Incidentally, the 037 has the distinction of being the last rear-wheel drive car to win in the WRC.
Weighing in at 2,161 lbs, the 037 featured a space-frame construction, selected for its lightweight and structural rigidity. Pininfarina penned the kevlar-fiberglass composite body that enclosed the car’s barebones internals. It’s engine, a 2.0-liter supercharged four-cylinder, was mounted midship and sent power through a five-speed ZF transmission to the rear wheels. Lancia selected supercharging instead of turbocharging in order to improve throttle response and avoid dreaded turbo-lag.
Early 2.0-liter engines produced 255-horsepower, and the introduction of water injection helped increase that figure to 300hp, while a latter 2.1-liter engine bumped the number even further to 325hp. Lancia’s performance space-race was necessary in order to keep the rear-drive 037 ahead of the all-wheel-drive Audi Quattro.
In 1983, the championship came down to both constructors. Lancia and Audi split the 12-race season, taking five wins a piece. A mere two points separated Lancia after the last round in Wales, and the rest they say is history.
The 037 never did eclipse the success of 1983. Lancia fell prey to the hard-charging Audi Quattro A2 during 1984, and lost handily in 1985 to the Peugeot 205 T16. But it did usher in one of Lancia’s most successful rally cars of all time – the Delta Integrale.