Lancia never strayed far from the racing roots Vincenzo Lancia put down when he founded the company in 1906. Oh sure, the company might be known nowadays for stylish urban runabouts with lots of pizzazz but not much pep, but Lancia earned a reputation for innovation and performance that rivaled the best from Maranello and Sant’Agata Bolognese.
Lancia was, for example, the first automaker to build a V-4 engine, and the first to build a V-6 in big numbers, and it pioneered new designs in independent suspension and rear transaxles.
Such innovations led to a long list of amazing racing cars, including the Stradale and 037, both of which pounded competitors into the ground during the glory days of Group B rally racing and are among the Lancias crossing the block at RM Sotheby’s auction in Essen, Germany, April 11–12.
Lancia introduced the Flaminia in late 1956 as a replacement for the aging Aurelia. The car featured beautiful bodies crafted by some of Italy’s finest coachbuilders, including Zagato, Pininfarina, Ghia, and, in the case of this stunning 1964 GT, Touring. The Flaminia GT retained the innovative V-6 engine and rear-transaxle with inboard brakes of the Aurelia, but used a more modern double-wishbone independent front suspension.
Powered by the ultimate 2.8-liter triple-carb engine, the 150-horsepower Flaminia GTC is among the best deals in the European GT market. The 1964 GTL’s average value in #2 (Excellent) condition is $62,100, an increase of 43 percent in the past five years, and the car’s average #1 (Concours) value is $80,900, so judging from the estimate RM thinks highly of this example.
Estimate: €20,000–€30,000 ($22,000–$34,000), without reserve
This head-turning Fulvia provides everything you want in a collectible car: beautiful color, sporty design, reasonable price, and, as a bonus, a distinguished pedigree. It once belonged to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, and Grace Kelly was a frequent passenger.
The Fulvia was Lancia’s second front-wheel-drive model, after the flat-four Flavia, and its narrow-angle V-4 displaces 1.3 liters and makes 90 horsepower. This one sports a few tasteful modifications, including hood straps, alloy wheels, and wider wheel arches painted to match the body color—not that RM told us that. The auction house didn’t offer much in the way of details and left us scratching our heads by calling it a 1974 model in the hyperlink. No matter. Its provenance and beauty tells you all you need to know.
The auction includes no shortage of race cars—five lots in all—and this rip-snorting Fulvia Coupe Rally 1.6 HF is among our favorites. It is the sharpest of the weapons Lancia honed from a road-going car that made a fearsome rally racer.
The 1.6-liter V-4 made 115 horsepower out of the box and 130 in the fire-breathing 1016 version, which featured modified cams. The racer also got a lighter body and wider wheel arches that look the business.
Those big honkin’ lenses give the car its name—Fanalone is Italian for “big headlight.” As for the HF designation, it stands for High Fidelity, a nod toward the faithful privateer team HF Squadra Corse that carried the banner during Lancia’s racing hiatus between 1955 and 1965. This car won the International Rally Championship in 1972.
The record price for a Fulvia Coupe Rally 1.6 HF Fanalone is €78,400 ($88,000) at RM Sotheby’s 2016 Duemila Route auction.
Estimate: €30,000–€40,000 ($34,000–$45,000), without reserve
Hey! It’s another Fanalone! RM Sotheby’s has little to say about this one, which may explain why it’s just one of two Lancias crossing the block without a reserve. We’re told that after being fully rebuilt in 2016 to compete in vintage rallies, it competed in (and finished) the Rally Monte-Carlo Historique in 2017 and again in the recent 2019 event.
Few racing cars are so instantly recognizable as the achingly beautiful Stratos Stradale. Just look at it, and try not to drool.
Bertone brought the Turin Auto Show to a halt when Lancia unveiled the Stratos Zero concept in 1970. It led to a sweet road car, which Lancia racing director Fiorio knew would be damn-near unstoppable in rally racing. He convinced Ferrari to hand over the beautiful V-6 in the Dino.
The Stratos race car was an absolute howitzer in rallying, laying waste to everything in its path. To meet FIA rules, the company built 500 road-going cars—equipped with with a Dino 2.4-liter V-6 rated at 190 hp—but, oddly, there were few takers.
While the rally version was a success with championship titles in 1974, ’75, and ’76, the 500 road cars required by Group 4 homologation were not as successful in the showroom. Many went unsold for years. However, with its short-wheelbase, mid-mounted Ferrari V-6, and a place in the door to store your helmet, the Stratos has since become a sought-after collector car.
The average value for a Stratos in #2 (Excellent) condition is $527,000, which represents a 21-percent increase in five years. The record price for a Stratos HF Stradale is $660,000 at RM Sotheby’s 2014 Monterey auction.
After the reign of the Stratos in World Rally Competition, Fiat told Lancia to have a seat because it wanted the new Fiat 131 Abarth sedan to have a chance at winning. Lancia went along with the plan—it kind of had to, right?—and let the 131 win three championships in four years before returning to racing with the 037.
Hot damn what a car that was. It was loosely based on the mid-engine Beta Montecarlo/Scorpion, but featured new subframes and Kevlar bodywork. The supercharged inline-four engine sent 265 horsepower to the rear wheels in a package potent enough to deprive the more powerful Audi Quattro of the World Rally Championship in 1983.
The 037 Rally Stradale is said to be more refined than the Stratos, and it’s rarer, too. This one is the 22nd of only 217 produced.
The record price for a 037 Rally Stradale is $451,000 at Bonhams’ 2018 Scottsdale auction. With a high estimate of $447K, this one may challenge it.
The Delta S4 succeeded the 037 as all-wheel-drive took over rallying. In addition to that big step forward, the S4 featured a mid-mounted inline-four that was supercharged and turbocharged. All that huffing gave the car race car 500 horsepower, just a bit more than twice what you got in the road-going Stradale form. Few cars so perfectly reflect the anything-goes approach to Group B rallying in the mid-1980s.
Still, it wasn’t enough to deliver a championship. The Delta S4’s best result was second in the World Rally Championship in 1986.
Lancia built just 200 Delta S4 Stradales. This one has only 2196 kilometers (1365 miles) on the clock. The record price for a Delta S4 Stradale is €492,800 ($554,000) at RM Sotheby’s 2017 Villa Erba auction; that car had only 1600 kilometers (994 miles).
The World Rally Championship shifted to production-based Group A cars in 1987, and Lancia responded by adapting the all-wheel-drive system from the Group B S4 to the Delta HF. The resulting Delta HF 4WD/Integrale became the most successful rally car of all time, winning the World Rally Championship every year from 1987 through 1992.
The Evoluzione, built from 1991–92, received a 16-valve 2.0-liter supercharged engine producing 210 hp in street tune. Wearing the iconic Martini Racing livery of Lancia’s long-term Works team sponsor, the Martini 5 Special Edition is the 111th of 400.
Lancia’s 1992 Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione 1 “Martini 6” sold for €134,400 ($151,000) at RM’s 2016 Paris auction.