Following in the rally tracks of the legendary Lancia Stratos, the Rally – better known by its Abarth in-house code number 'SE 037' – made almost as big an impact in international rallying in the 1980s as its illustrious forebear had in the preceding decade. Just like the Stratos, the Lancia Rally 037 has an impeccable pedigree, winning the 1983 World Rally Championship, although the model has yet to be as appreciated as its Bertone-styled predecessor.
When it made its competition debut proper in 1982, the 037 Rally was as revolutionary as the Stratos had been in 1972. It was one of the first of the Group B supercars and owed more to circuit racing practice than any other rally car of its time. It was a mid-engined, two-seater coupé with strong links to the Group 5 Lancia Monte Carlo that would win the 1981 World Endurance Championship. Its Fiat 131 four-cylinder, 2,111cc engine was considerably reworked by Abarth and fitted with a light-alloy, 16-valve twin-cam head and Abarth R10 Roots-type supercharger, to produced an astonishing 326 bhp.
The Lancia offered here, chassis number '001', was under construction at the Dallara factory in Varano by September 1980, Gian Paolo Dallara's company having been chosen because of its experience in building Lancia's Monte Carlo Turbo racers. '001' first ran at the Campovolo airfield, Abarth's favourite test site, in December 1980, albeit in normally aspirated form as there had been problems with the 'blower'. More serious development started after the Christmas break with the supercharger in place. The car was then sent to Pininfarina for aerodynamic testing in the wind tunnel, where it was found that the body needed to be closed in at the tail.