We’ve never been big rally racers here in America, but the influence of the motorsport runs wide and deep the more you talk to homegrown enthusiasts. Certainly rallycross has sprung directly from it, and drifting also owes at least part of its lineage to drivers harnessing over-steer and flicking around a vehicle’s rear end; car control is king in rally racing, and it’s no wonder the coolest of car culture cool kids are into it. So when RM Sotheby’s announced it was putting up for auction a handful of road-ready rally car greats this coming April from its first Essen, Germany sale, of course our curiosity was piqued.
A 1985 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale is among the featured cars set for Essen. Manufactured as a Group B rally car, the Delta S4 was made by Lancia with the intention of replacing the outgoing 037, raced by Lancia in the early 1980s. The Delta S4 lived up to the reputation of its predecessor with a number of Group B wins, while the rally class homologation requirements led Lancia to build 200 road-going versions of the car, paving the way for the Stradale version. The Delta S4 on offer in Essen is an original example of the Italian rally car, showing less than 1,400 miles on the odometer and complete with original owner’s manuals and toolkit
The Lancia rally legend theme continues with a 1975 Stratos HF Stradale, one of only 492 produced as a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive race and rally car. Lancia dominated the World Rally Championship with the futuristic looking Stratos HF Stradale, finishing every season in first place from 1974 to 1976, and winning subsequent races until the car was retired in the early-1980s. Presented in unrestored, original condition, it was originally delivered to Guido Bignardi in Sicily; a member of a prominent Italian rallying family, the car remained with him for three decades before passing through just one more owner ahead of the consignor.
Also set for the sale is a 1984 037 Stradale, another Lancia built to comply with homologation standards of ‘80s rally sport. Also delivered new to a member of the Bignardi family, the 037 was kept by its first owner until 2005 before being purchased by its third and current owner in 2015. Showing just 3,500 km from new, this is one of the lowest mileage examples available. A 1974 Fulvia and 1970 Fulvia Rallye 1.6 HF ‘Fanalone’ complete the Lancia motorsport line-up.
Rounding out the rally theme is another iconic car of the 1980s, a 1985 Renault 5 Turbo 2 offered from the Youngtimer Collection in Essen. As a perfect introduction to rallying’s 1980s heyday, the Renault 5 Turbo was born of Renault’s desire to copy the winning recipe of the Stratos, and in so doing gave the Renault 5 a new lease on life by moving its engine behind the driver and switching to rear-wheel drive. This example was first registered in Germany but has gone on to owners in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The Renault is featured amongst 85 cars presented from the single-owner Youngtimer Collection at Essen.
Over 150 automobile lots will be offered at RM Sotheby’s Essen, Germany, sale when it takes place April 11 and 12, 2019. The new RM Sotheby's sale will form part of the 31st Techno-Classica Essen show, a long-running fair recognized as the first great German car salon for vintage cars and collector vehicles. For more information on the auction, visit the RM Sotheby’s website.