We have Sergio Limone, the boss of the Lancia Abarth Rally Division and the first car of the Lancia 037, tell the story behind the birth.
"At the time we were planning, we didn't even decide whether we would use a Fiat, Lancia, or Abarth brand, but from past experience, I knew that doing things as simple as possible was a shortcut to success.
Monte Carlo was perfect for me. After all, the task seemed very easy. The cabin is bigger than the Stratos, and from the experience of the ending Group 5 we had a lot of material we hadn't used yet. And I was convinced that the combination of Abarth's chassis would make a great rally car.
I borrowed normal Monte Carlo from the public relations department and started working. Enlarged front tread to create space for suspension. The wheelbase has been extended. I often asked my former boss, Insignale Colucci, where Insignale stands for Engineer in Italian. He is a real friend as well as a dear friend. The story I heard from Mario overnight was a great asset to me.
The rear suspension of the 037 is exactly what he created. For gearboxes, the ones used in the de Tomazo Panthera and BMW M1 racing specifications seemed ideal. Above all, it was very sturdy and convenient for laying out large differential gears.
When it comes to suspension, I hate the McPherson strut formula. It was fragile and caused many troubles when running the 131 rally. I prefer wishbones.
There were other benefits to choosing based on Monte Carlo. Production was easier than I had imagined. I thought this might be the case in advance, but I was not 100% sure. After all, this was very important because at least 200 units had to be built to get homologation. ''
"When I started with a naturally aspirated engine for the 131 Rally, it was surprisingly fast, but if I left Pininfarina to build the car, it was clear that the plan would not be in time. The last unused Group 5 chassis was left to Insignale Giampaolo d'Alara and his talented team, who had access to the materials used to produce the Group 5 Monte Carlo. And the jig was still there, and in September 1980 my car was ready and ready for testing before Christmas, when the first sketch was drawn in the middle of 1980 Given that, it was a pretty good progress.
It was around this time that I began working on styling the body. It was Pininfarina who was in charge of the design, but I wanted to do some work before they got involved. I loved the Ferrari 308, so I included some characteristic details, such as round tail lights. The important thing for me was to make each part accessible so that it could be easily manufactured and maintained. Thanks to that, Pininfarina's Leonardo Fioravante screamed when she first saw it.
I made some mistakes in design. Headlights with different sizes for the Fiat 131 were used, with the larger diameter laid out on the outside. Upon seeing this, Fioravante clearly stated. "This makes the car look sad." I think he was right. The final body design was very good thanks to Enrico Fumia.
It was my idea to attach the air intake at a high position behind the cockpit. Pininfarina's first sketch, which was low, was clogged with dust and dirt. So I was moved to a higher position. I think this was better because of its coolness. ''
Soon, a second prototype for the development of the road going version, Stradale, was completed. Often, we saw scenes where two cars were traveling together. By January 1981, Car 1 would be available for wind tunnel testing by Pirinfarina, with several spoilers and wings being tested. Then, in March, he started running on the Pirelli test course in Vizzola Ticino.
… continue to next time