Not every manufacturer went the turbo route: Lancia’s first GpB offering was supercharged.
037 made its WRC debut in Corsica in May 1982. It was inauspicious: Markku Alén could not get his to handle predictably and was ninth. while Attilio Bettega was wrestling his along in third place when he had a massive accident and was airlifted to hospital. If it failed to make an impression in 82, 037 made up for it in ’83 by winning five rounds to capture the manufacturers title.
The car was loosely based on the Beta Monte Carlo and had a 1995cc four-valve Fiat engine fitted with an Abarth supercharger. This initially gave just over 260bhp. With an ‘evolved’ system of water injection into the compressor this was soon lifted to over 300bhp. Rear-engined and two-wheel drive like the Stratos, 037 was fitted with a longitudinal engine, which meant that driver space was limited. Why Lancia then employed two of the tallest drivers is a puzzle. Both Röhrl and Alén had to have special helmets made and a relieved area in the roof above them.
037 was first used in basic production form, but by August 1982 Lancia had produced 20 lightweight evolution cars weighing 960kg, and these were used from then on. A second evolution appeared for January 1, 1984. This had an extra 116cc so that, with the 1.4 coefficient, they came up exactly to the class limit of 3000cc. This E2 also featured new slides for the Bosch fuel injection and revised rear bodywork exposing the ‘box in real racing style.
The car tested here won the1983 New Zealand (Röhrl) and San Remo rallies (Alén).
Blomqvist’s view: It must have been a nice car for some events: I think you have to be Markku Alén to love this car. He was probably the best all-round driver for it and could certainly get the best out of it But it is not a car that I enjoy so much.
Its engine is good, almost like a normally aspirated engine, with the response from the supercharger giving you what you need quite quickly. But for me the handling is a bit different and difficult. Its a sportscar and it needs just the right conditions for the way it is set up. We don’t have that here today, with the puddles and bits of gravel, so I can’t get a real feeling for it.
It is easy to control: I am not using left-foot braking, though you might do if you were used to the car and the conditions needed it, muddy Tarmac or something. That technique could be useful to keep its nose going in the direction you want it to go – very different to the Audi, where you always wanted to keep its back end out.