“WRC is for boys. Group B was for men”, famous words once spoken by four-time world champion rally Juha Kankkunen. The legendary and short-lived Group B world rally championship fostered some of the most powerful rally cars ever built. Fuelled by a lack of technical restrictions some true racing monsters were created. The era of Group B rally cars was perhaps the most insane period in the history of rallying, it lasted only for four years before it was eventually cancelled when the performance of the cars proved too much and resulted in a series of major accidents.
Now one of these monsters has entered the market as an original and rare 1986 Lancia S4 Martini rally car is being offered for sale. The Delta S4 is perhaps the perfect example of a Group B rally car. The Italian car took full advantage of the regulations, and featured a midship-mounted engine and all wheel drive for superior traction and handling.
In competition the car won its first event, the 1985 RAC Rally in the hands of Henri Toivonen. His teammate Markku Alén ended second in the drivers’ championship the following year. But the 1986 season also marked the end for the Group B rally cars, which were banned after the fatal crashes at the Rally Portugal, where three spectators were killed and more than 30 injured, and at the Tour de Corse, where Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto died in a horrible accident. Their Lancia mysteriously left the road and plunged down a ravine, causing it to explode.
The Lancia is powered by a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine with combined supercharging and turbocharging to reduce turbo lag at low engine speeds. Officially the car produced 480 horsepower, but the one offered here provides 600 horsepower at 8,800rpm. Lancia even tested the engine up to 5 bar boost and it knocked out around 1,000 horsepower. Perhaps even more impressive is the acceleration of the Lancia Delta S4, the 1,200kg weighing car accelerates from standstill to 100km/h on gravel in just 2.3 seconds ‒ faster than a Bugatti Veyron.
The car offered at duPont Registry is one of the 28 Martini Racing Lancia Delta S4 rally cars ever built. According to the advertisement, it is in immaculate condition and sells for $850,000. Perhaps not the cheapest car out there, but surely one of the most remarkable and legendary.
Check out the video and below and notice the distinctive sound produced by the super- and turbocharged engine. The Lancia Delta S4 is a reminder of an awe-inspiring period in the history of rallying. Truly heroic.