Lancia Delta S4 #6 – Ixo

S4 #6
1985 Lancia Delta S4 #6
Pilots: H. Toivonen / N. Wilson
Team: Martini Lancia 
Race: 1st overall at the Lombard RAC Rally in 1985
Ixo - RAC068 (diecast)

Published 12/15/23

In 1982, while Lancia used the 037 as their WRC race car, Audi introduced the Quattro. The big deal about the Quattro was its four-wheel drive, while everybody else used rear-wheel drive. Nonetheless, the 037 managed to win the 1983 season, however it was clear that four-wheel drive was the future. With that, Lancia managed to convince their FIAT controllers they needed a new 4WD car. Initially this new car, called “SE038”, would be based on the current 037. However, with Group B becoming so popular, they decided that the new car should look like the mass-produced Delta. With that, Lancia christened the new car as Delta S4 (S = supercharged, 4 = 4WD). Abarth would be in charge of the project, even with their lack of experience with 4WD systems. The engine was something completely new, F1-inspired and able to achieve 10,000 rpm. And more importantly, it was “twin-charged”.

S4 #6
The Delta S4, despite the Delta in its name, was truly a silhouette car.

Abarth’s engine (called 233 ATR 18S) was a 1759 cm³ inline-4 with DOHC and 16 valves, from FIAT. Yet, it was turbo AND supercharged, which immensely reduced turbo lag, and (officially) it delivered 360 kW (483 hp). Extra-officially though, some sources claimed the figures were around 404 kW (550 hp). The chassis was a space-frame construction made with quite thin steel tubes. Bonded to the chassis was a cabin made of composite panels, with everything covered by lightweight Kevlar panels. The bodywork of the S4 was essentially utilitarian, with the front and rear sections opening up in a clamshell fashion. When ready, the S4 only weighed 890 kg, and was FISA-legal. However, road testing revealed the need of structural reinforcements to the chassis and body, therefore the S4 weighed 1050 kg. In the end, the Delta S4 was the most advanced rally car of its time.

S4 #6
The huge air scoops on the C-columns fed the intercoolers (one for the supercharger and one for the turbocharger).

Though the work on the S4 project began in 1983, the actual car was only ready in 1985. Officially homologated in June, only in time for the Lombard RAC Rally, in November. The first Royal Automobile Club Rally in Great Britain occurred in 1932, and became the UK’s premier international motor rally. In 1974, financed by the Lombard North Central finance company, the event changed its name to Lombard RAC Rally. The 1985 RAC Rally was the last race of the year, and until then Lancia had a miserable season. In the first race of the season, Henri Toivonen crashed his 037 and broke three vertebrae. In the Tour de Corse, Attilio Bettega lost control of his Lancia 037 and fatally crashed. And to make things worse, the 037 was in general, underperforming. With all that, the S4 was a breath of fresh air for the team.

S4 #6
Though the S4 was a marvel of technology, it was too much. Fatally so.

Lancia showed up for the Lombard RAC Rally with two S4. At the helm of S4 #6 was Henri Toivonen and Neil Wilson, while Markku Alén and Ilkka Kivimäki piloted #3. Despite being the S4’s rally debut, both cars had a smooth race. On the last day S4 #6 finished in first, with car #3 in second, just 80 seconds behind. Though the S4 was a success for Toivonen, sadly just six months later it would become his last drive…😞 Yet, that tragic story is for another time. For now, Ixo gives us a very decent model of the Delta S4 #6. In old release, nonetheless VERY nice – almost as good as their current stuff. I was a bit worried that it would be a cruder model. But alas, it’s a really nice representation of the infamous Delta S4. A model not easy to find, yet affordable and very nice.

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