Only 3,000 built: With no experience in mass production, British automaker went out of business…
This ultra-rare S4 Stradale might be Lancia’s wildest road car
Those looking for the most intense Lancia Delta-shaped rally specials have quite a few options to choose from, with a corresponding range of prices. For starters, there’s the new Lancia Delta Futurista, the two-door carbon-fiber “what if?” Group B homage made by Automobili Amos. It’s a very cool toy to have, no doubt. Yet if such a brand new build doesn’t feel period correct, there’s always one of Paul V.J. Koot’s Integrale Evo II-based Hyenas. Made 265 pounds lighter than stock by the hand-hammered body of Carrozzeria Zagato, there’s little not to like. Still, would you like to know what’s wilder than an aluminum double-bubble Hyena with its turbo dialed up? A super- and turbocharged, Kevlar-bodied Lancia S4 “Stradale.”
To homologate the Lancia S4’s Group B rally version, Fiat-Abarth was supposed to produce 200 of these road cars between October of 1985 and October of 1986. When it comes to the actual figures, S4 Stradale producer Carrozzeria Savio has no comment, but while RM Sotheby’s doesn’t mention it, Bonhams says some experts believe no more than 80 exist.
What I can gather is that the S4 Stradale offered by RM Sotheby’s back in April is a 1985 model with chassis #0155, and this one offered by Bonhams at the upcoming Paris auctions was originally registered as a 1988, showing chassis #0026. Though we can’t satisfy ourselves on every S4 serial number, most homologation specials sat around in showrooms when first produced, so it’s likely that #0026 sat unregistered for at least three years—some cars were registered in the year bought, not in the year sold. That would explain why a homologation special for Group B was registered in 1988, by the end of which Lancia had already campaigned the Lancia Delta Group A for two seasons.
Production figures aside, all S4 Stradales came with the same Abarth-designed 1759cc 16-valve four-cylinders as Lancia’s racing cars, employing supercharging, turbocharging, and twin intercoolers for roughly 250 horsepower in road tune. To compare, the same tech in Group B-spec was good for 490 horses. Still, the S4 Stradale remained an all-wheel-drive, tubular-frame silhouette car with detachable front and rear shells. In true homologation special fashion, it also came with bolts that may or may not be matching in color, and luxuries such as moderate sound deadening, a suede and Alcantara interior, power steering, air conditioning, and a trip computer.
Perhaps because the majority of these Lancias were sprayed red, the more details you notice on the S4 Stradales, the more they may remind you of Ferrari F40s. These Group B homologation specials come from the same era, the same parent company, and frankly, the same racing-obsessed Italian engineers who made Fiat-Abarth and Scuderia Ferrari the teams to beat in the mid-’80s—and for years to come.
When it comes to chassis #0026, this immaculate example with just 2050 miles on the clock, is Bonhams’ estimate of $600,000–$720,000 a touch too optimistic? Not likely. Our experts say that given this 1988’s slightly higher mileage (at least percentage-wise) compared to the 1985 S4 Stradale sold for $1,150,000 at Essen last year, “the discount seems reasonable.” All we can wish is good luck to all during Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais sale, starting on the 6th of February, 14:00 CET, sharp.