RM Sotheby’s auction in Essen, Germany was held April 11-12, in conjunction with the Techno Classica Essen Motor Show. While the Youngtimer Collection lots were the most anticipated cars to cross the block, the auction also featured eight desirable Lancias. Overall, all eight of the Lancias we previewed sold, and the total sales number approached $3 million. Bidding was enthusiastic, too—they sold for an average of 30 percent over their low estimate.
These sales suggest there’s substance to the calls to revitalize Lancia as a modern brand, and three icons of Lancia’s rally and racing heritage realized particularly fantastic results.
In all cases, participation in the World Rally Championship required the manufacturer to build a specified number of road-going (Stradale) examples of the cars they were going to rally. Often, these road-going variants were so unpalatable to most buyers that new cars sat unsold in showrooms for years. Those days are gone.
Lot 255 was the 1975 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale by Bertone, which sold for 545,000 euros ($615,850) against an estimate of €480,000 to €520,000. While Lancia rallied the Fulvia successfully, the brand truly began its domination of the (then new) World Rally Championship with the Stratos—winning the title three times in a row between 1974 and 1976.
With only 11,800 kilometers (less than 7,400 miles), and featuring bright blue (Azzurro) paint, the car was described as largely original. The car had three owners, with the first keeping the car for 30 years, and the second keeping it another 10. This Stratos is one of the best. However, the record for a Stradale Stratos is $660,000, which was set by RM Sotheby’s in 2014 at their Monterey auction. That car had less than 4,500 kilometers.
Lancia’s winning record continued in the early 1980s, before all-wheel drive became de rigueur, with a manufacturers’ championship win in 1983 with the rear-wheel-drive 037.
Lot 256 was the 1982 Lancia 037 Rally Stradale, which sold for 770,000 euros ($870,100) against an estimate of €350,000 to €400,000. With just 3,500 kilometers (<2,200 miles), the 037 Rally Stradale was near time-capsule condition. The price well exceeds the prior record from Bonham’s 2018 Scottsdale auction of $451,000 for a car with almost 29,000 kilometers.
Finally, as the Group B era began its Icarus-like flight in the world rally scene in the mid-1980s, the mid-engine all-wheel drive turbocharged and supercharged Delta S4 was to be Lancia’s front-line weapon.
For Lot 257, the 1985 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale was another highly original car with just less than 2,200 kilometers (<1,400 miles). The car sold for 1,040,000 euros ($1,175,200) against an estimate of €450,000 to €500,000. The prior record for an S4 Stradale was 492,800 euros ($554,000), which was set at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction in 2017. This leap to seven figures makes lot 257 the most expensive post-1958 Lancia and even exceeds the 1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero that was sold by RM Sotheby’s at their 2011 Villa d’Este auction for 761,600 euros.
While Lancia may currently be a shadow of its former self, the cars it built in Stradale guise are clearly becoming extraordinarily collectible.