Opinions were split within the Fiat Group as to which direction to go. There were those in the company who wanted to adapt an existing model, but on the winning side were those who wanted a car to be designed and built specifically for racing, as they had done previously with the glorious Lancia Stratos.
The project was developed as a collaboration between Lancia, Abarth and Pininfarina. They were tasked to design a car in accordance with the new FISA Regulations for Group B cars, requiring the production of 200 units of a road car, which bore a technical and styling specification that was very close to the racing version.
A decision to adopt a turbocharged engine was initially considered, but Lancia was unable to develop and build one in the short time available. A four-wheel drive solution was also discarded, the group preferring not to venture into complex technical solutions that could create regulatory breaches. The main ethos was to have a design that would be easy to repair mechanically and have parts that could be quickly changed on rallies.
Even with the comparatively simple design, the 325hp rear-wheel drive Lancia triumphed over the world-famous Audi Quattro in the 1983 World Rally Championship. The championship win was in no small part aided by Abarth’s Volumex supercharger which added between 0.60 and 0.90 bars of boost to the engine.
Presented in its final trim at the 59th Turing Motor Show in 1982, the Lancia 037 immediately stole the show. Both journalists and brand enthusiasts flocked to see it.
The 037 won six races in the WRC, clinching the title and ending a seven-year spell of failing to win the championship—since the time of Lancia Stratos.
The end of the Lancia 037’s participation in Rallies came tragically in 1985, costing driver Attilio Bettega’s life on the Tour de Corse.