What is there to say about the Lancia Delta S4 which hasn’t been said before? In its full-fat Martini-liveried Group B guise, it took fearless and charismatic drivers such as Henri Toivonen and Markku Alén to another dimension of performance. And as a road car, it pioneered twin-charging, an innovation we take for granted nowadays, and proudly showed that road-going Group B homologation specials were not the poorly-built bodge-jobs they’d earned a reputation as being.
It might be an alumni of the ‘form follows function’ school of thought, but the S4 Stradale is a beautifully built object, both above and below the surface. Its mid-mounted twin-charged four-cylinder engine sent its ample power to all four wheels via a five-speed gearbox and not one but three differentials. And its Alcantara-strewn, air-conditioned cabin is honestly one of the best we’ve ever sat in.
“In its full-fat Martini-liveried Group B guise, the Lancia Delta S4 took fearless and charismatic drivers such as Henri Toivonen and Markku Alén to another dimension of performance.”
Because Lancia didn’t build the required 200 S4 Stradales to homologate the road car (we reckon as few as 70 left Turin) they’re shrouded in mystery and, as a result, attracting the interest of more and more collectors with every passing day. Another by-product is that these cars are commonly misconstrued to be intimidating and scarcely-useable turbocharged monsters. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Chassis number 033
This Lancia S4 Stradale is chassis number 033, which was awarded its Certificate of Origin on Christmas Eve of 1986, as noted on its Italian Estratto Chronologico. In March the following year, the car was sold to its first owner, Clipper Auto Ltd in Livorno, and assigned the registration ‘LI 385622’. A year later, ACI Leasing in Vicenza acquired chassis 033 and reregistered it with the number ‘VI 772093’.
A handful of further Italian custodians followed until December of 1998, when this Lancia was bought by ART Engineering Ltd. The UK-based company was founded by Paolo Alessandrini, the famed Italian racing driver who competed in the World Rally Championship with a Lancia Delta S4 Corsa, the Audi Quattro and the Peugeot 205 T16 among others.
Chassis 033’s next public appearance was in 2005, when it appeared at the Christie’s Exceptional Motor Cars and Automobilia auction. The car remained in England and was subsequently registered with the UK number ‘C39 OVX’. The then-owner took the decision to send this S4 Stradale to the renowned Lancia specialists Elio and Giovanni Baldi in Turin to be restored. In the process of working as part of the Lancia Martini Racing Team and Abarth during the Group B and Group A eras of rallying, they gained great knowledge, experience and respect. Today, there is simply no better people to maintain and restore these precious Lancias.
During the restoration, the Baldi twins rebuilt the engine, gearbox and differentials, using their knowledge to upgrade the engine from ‘standard’ Stradale specification to ‘Potenziato’ specification, which boasts well over 300bhp. The upgrade involved installing a new and upgraded clutch, enhanced engine software and a new exhaust system. Chassis 033 was treated to a comprehensive ‘nut-and-bolt’ restoration, with the car being stripped right back to its tub. All mechanical components including the suspension and brakes were also restored. The end product was nothing short of sensational – a truly ‘as-new’ S4 Stradale.
“The ‘Potenziato’ upgrade carried out by the Baldi twins involved installing a new and upgraded clutch, enhanced engine software and a new exhaust system.”
Finished in Rosso Amaranto, chassis 033 was acquired by Timothy Pappas, a real-estate tycoon and the owner of Black Swan Racing in the United States. In May of 2016, the online automotive publication Petrolicious interviewed Pappas and photographed the car for a feature. Black Swan Racing is an IMSA team, which maintained this Lancia during Pappas’ ownership. Later in 2016, the S4 was sold to a significant and sizeable Chicago-based collection, where it was seldom used.
Girardo & Co. negotiated the purchase of chassis 033 in August of 2018, returning the car to Europe and re-registering it in the United Kingdom. In November of that year, Classic Driver featured this S4 Stradale in yet another online magazine feature. It commented. “In reality, the S4 is not the intimidating and excessive monster is appears from the outside. It is actually a beautifully resolved sports car which you can really feel the technology beneath working with you.” You can click here to read the full story.
Following its moment in the spotlight, we opted to return chassis 033 to the Baldi twins in Turin, where the car was thoroughly inspected and serviced prior to delivery to its penultimate owner, a UK-based collector of rare Lancias. Said collector has driven the car seldomly since, though it has always been carefully stored and maintained. At this time, chassis 033 starred as the feature car in our definitive guide on the Lancia Delta S4 Stradale, which you can read by clicking here. The car also featured in the Earls Court display at the world-famous Goodwood Revival meeting in 2021, which was themed for road-going homologation models.
“Having dealt with over 10 of these Group B unicorns, we can confirm this Delta S4 Stradale is one of the best we’ve encountered.”
Having dealt with over 10 of these Group B unicorns, we can confirm this Delta S4 Stradale is one of the best we’ve encountered, having been used sparingly since its meticulous restoration undertaken by the world’s leading marque experts. Furthermore, chassis 033 is accompanied by its tool roll, jack, spare wheel, Italian ownership documentation, Lancia Classiche certification binder and its Girardo & Co. history file, which includes many images of the aforementioned restoration process. Its odometer currently reads 23,650km.
The mighty and mysterious Lancia Delta S4 Stradale is arguably the most special and technologically fascinating road-going Group B homologation special, of which we believe as few as 70 were built in 1985 and 1986. Syffice to say, chassis 033 is one of the very best.