Today at Art of Gears, we’re celebrating Throwback Thursday, a unique day of the week dedicated to reminiscing about some of the most iconic cars from yesteryears. Discover with Thomas Woloch one of the fastest cars of the 80s in the Rally scene: the Lancia Delta S4.
There is a love story between Italy and the engines. Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini are three brands that are known worldwide. But in the 1980s, if you were into rallying, you obviously knew one name: Lancia.
Long before the Subaru Impreza WRX at the end of the 1990s and the Citroën Xsara in the 2000s, the Lancia Delta S4 outclassed all their opponents on rally roads all over the world. Made of a 1.8 L engine, 500 horsepower, and a weight of 970 kg, the Lancia Delta S4 was a threat in rallying for spectators and also for their drivers themselves. In 12 entries in WRC in 1985-1986, this Lancia brought home 5 wins and inscribed itself into the memory of petrol heads worldwide.
But, if its story is made of speed, aggressiveness, and cult among rally fans, it’s also for a tragic reason. Driving the Lancia Delta S4 required nerves of steel and a great sense of bravery.
The pursuit for the minimum weight drove Lancia Rally Team to save on every part of the car to gain kilometers. Some pundits even said that the roll bar of this Lancia was made of cardboard…
In the Tour de Corse 1986, the Finnish Henri Toivonen plunged into a ravine and the car burst into flames. The driver and co-driver were killed instantaneously.
Multiple questions were raised in light of this accident. The safety of the Group-B cars was questioned.
In the end, Henri Toivonen’s death condemned the Group B era. Soon, the Lancia Delta S4 would become an iconic image of rally cars in the 1980s and coveted by auctioneers. It’s understandable: 28 units of this car were produced.