Lancia Restomod By Kimera Is The Ultimate Group B Rally Homage

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It pays tribute to seven Lancia WRC wins wearing the Martini livery.

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The stunning creation you see here is the Kimera Automobili EVO37 Martini 7. A long name for a car with a long, rich history, which we'll dive into properly in segments. To fully appreciate the car, you need to understand where it comes from, all the way back to the company that manufactured the original car it's based on.

So feast your eyes on the image below, sit back, and relax as we dive into the history of Lancia, the World Rally Championship (WRC), and the company responsible for building such a glorious homage to Group B rallying.

We'll kick off with Lancia, which lost the plot completely in the early Noughties but seems to be back on an upward trajectory with evolutionary new designs.

Kimera Automobili

Lancia: 100 Years Of History

Lancia was founded 116 years ago and currently belongs to Stellantis. It came as part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) package.

This Italian brand is (or rather used to be) known for two things; innovation and rallying. For example, Lancia was the first automaker to adopt the monocoque chassis and the first to fit a five-speed manual in a production car. Other firsts include the first full-production V4 and V6 engines, independent suspension, and the transaxle configuration.

Lancia's reputation for innovation was lost the moment it started cutting costs by sharing platforms with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Saab.

Eventually, the platform sharing went too far, and Lancia didn't even bother with design anymore. Lancia literally rebadged a Chrysler 300C and sold it to Italians. As you can imagine, the brand tanked rather quickly, and now it's struggling to get on its feet again. Almost anyone above the age of millennial has no idea what Lancia is and what it stands for, which will make future cars tough to sell.

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Wikipedia Commons

What Lancia Stood For

Then there's the rallying history, which any gearhead should know well. Lancia started rallying in 1973 and finished in 1992. During that time, it became famous for competing in the Group B era, which stretched from 1982-1986. After Group B was canned for being too dangerous, the FIA introduced Group A, and Lancia competed in that formula from 1987 right to the end. Lancia played a huge role in getting Group B axed. Attilio Bettega crashed and died in an 037 in 1985, and in 1986, Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto died in a horrendous accident. The car flew off the track and burst into flames. The two men couldn't escape...

Despite this dire turn of events, Lancia stuck with rallying. It started with the Fulvia and Stratos in the '70s, struggled through Group B, and entered Group A with the Delta S4 and Delta Integrale.

The Stratos is likely the most familiar and the first to receive the restomod treatment. The Integrale also received a modern makeover, but the most beautiful of the lot was the Kimera Automobili EVO37.


Martini And Motorsport

Clemente Michel, Carlo Re, Carlo Agnelli, and Eligio Baudino started a vermouth bottling plant in Italy, and a few years later, a savvy businessman called Alessandro Martini joined the company. It was officially renamed Martini, Sola & Cia in 1863, and in 1892 Martini handed the reins over to his four sons. His grandkids took over in 1930.

By that time, Martini was already a global brand, which meant marketing played an important role. Around the same time, international racing became a big hit. Pre-1950s, racing was mainly a national sport, but Formula 1, sports car racing, rallying, and even drag racing went global.

Martini, Sola & Cia started sponsoring cars in 1958. By 1962, it was ready to go global, and it sponsored two Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZs, but the famous colors did not exist yet.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

Hans Dieter Dechent, an endurance racer, approached Martini's PR guy, Paul Goppert. Dechent said he'd slap some basic Martini stickers on his car so he could pay for new racing overalls. Goppert must have received positive feedback because soon after, Martini stickers appeared on racing cars all over Europe.

The next logical step was to form Martini Racing, which focused entirely on racing and no other form of marketing. The racing colors were designed and featured on iconic vehicles like the Porsche 917. Martini has been a motorsport sponsor ever since, but its closest ties are with Lancia and Porsche. Being Italian, it also has a soft spot for Alfas.

In the late '80s, rallying hit a slump, and Martini Racing eventually pulled sponsorship. It did some one-off sponsorship deals here and there, but the last time the livery appeared was on something without wheels that got a lot wetter than your dry vermouth.

In 2014, Martini sponsored the Vector-Martini team in the Cowes Offshore Classic. It supported the team again the following year, and it won by around 20 minutes. That's the last record of a Marini livery used in a competitive race.

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Kimera Automobili: A History

Kimera Automobili is located in the northwest of Italy in a stately manor known as Villa Kimera.

What is now a manufacturer of limited-production cars started life as a motorsport team. After his life as a professional rally driver for other teams ended, Luca Betti, the founder of Kimera Automobili, started his own motorsport team called Kimera Motorsport. He continued racing for Kimera and managed multiple motorsport activities. Most notably, he managed some of Red Bull's rallying activities.

According to Luca Betti, the idea for the 037 started when he invited two of his suppliers over for dinner. Betti said he thought they could create something special, and what they ended up with was a full-size replica of a 1:5 model Betti designed and made himself (pictured below).

Betti calls the car a "concert of passion." It was built by a bunch of passionate people who came together to build the ultimate Group B homage.

Where to next for Kimera, especially now that combustion is being banned all over the place? Because it's a low-volume manufacturer, it can conceivably exist for at least another decade, if not longer, if synthetic fuel takes off. Either way, you get the sense that money wasn't really the motivator here. Passion projects rarely are.


Kimera EVO37

As mentioned, the Lancia 037 rally car was based on the Beta Montecarlo road car. In order to compete in Group B, Lancia had to build 25 units. That wasn't enough for Kimera Automobili (named after a mythical fire-breathing beast), so the company decided the world needed the Kimera EVO37. Only 37 will be made, and the first US car arrived locally in August last year.

The car doesn't start life as a homologation 037, however. Instead, Kimera buys old beaten-up Montecarlos and removes most of the body. In fact, only about a third of the donor car is actually used.

It's a bit of an insult to call it an homage because it does actually have the goods to compete in a rally, albeit a tarmac-based one. The EVO37 has been set up for rally-like driving, with a quick steering rack and a loose rear end that you can hang out with minimal effort. And while most modern cars have some slip-angle control, the angle of the drift in the Kimera is chosen via the driver's right foot. It was designed so that you can steer using the throttle, and we respect that.

How did Kimera manage to pull this off?

Kimera Automobili
Kimera Automobili

Kimera doesn't simply repaint an old body, update the interior, and upgrade the engine. The blue car you see here has an entirely new body that looks the same as the old one, except it's made from carbon fiber. The interior is hand-crafted to each owner's exact specifications, but the star of the show is the engine. It's not the engine Lancia originally used in the 037, but rather one borrowed from the later Delta S4. When we say borrowed, we actually mean copied.

No parts are carried over. Instead, the engine was replicated from the ground up, making it a brand-new version of an '80s engine. It's a turbocharged and supercharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder that produces 500 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. At over 4,500 rpm, the supercharger is shut down via an electronic clutch. Then, it's just the turbo feeding boost. Why cut the supercharger? It would have robbed the engine of 50 hp, and at high rpm, the turbo does an epic job alone.

We're sure Kimera could have easily made the car all-wheel-drive but remained faithful to the original. All that power is sent to the rear wheels via a manual gearbox.

Underneath, the chassis is equal parts spaceframe and Lancia Beta Montecarlo. It has an Ohlins adjustable coilover suspension with two shock absorbers and massive Brembo brakes.

Kimera Automobili
Kimera Automobili

Martini 7: The Ultimate Homage

The Martini livery is instantly recognizable, primarily thanks to the Lancia Martini Racing Team, which started using the famous blue, light blue, and red stripes in 1983. These three hues were flanked by the green-white-red tricolore representing Italy.

The livery shot to fame in 1983 when the 037 became the last rear-wheel-drive car to win a World Rally Championship. Lancia eventually had to concede defeat after an unsuccessful campaign with the Delta S4, but the four-wheel-drive Delta Integrale won six more WRC titles proudly sporting the Martini livery. That brings the total to seven, which explains the name.

But Kimera Automobili EVO37 Martini 7 is more than just a name and livery. The attention to detail over and above the standard Kimera EVO37 is what makes this car so unique.

Kimera gave us a hint earlier this year, and we didn't even notice. It slapped a Martini livery on a standard EVO37 and entered it in the Sardinia Costa Smeralda Historic Rally in April. You can see that particular car below.

Kimera Automobili
Kimera Automobili
Kimera Automobili

Kimera managed to track down several people involved with the original 037. Men like Claudio Lombardi, Sergio Limone, and Vittorio Roberti (former team boss and engineers) shared their knowledge with Kimera's people. Two-time WRC champion, Miki Biasion, was also approached to give Betti insight into the driving behavior of the rally car.

Using all this information, Kimera turned to 3D scanning, reverse engineering, computer-aided design, and CNC milling to create the modern version you see here.

What they ended up with is an EVO37 wearing the famous Martini livery, but if you look closer, you'll note a carbon fiber aerodynamic package including a front splitter, side skirts, and nolder extractors on the sides of the rear hood. On the flanks and rear hood, it has NACA air intakes, while the rear hood has a round window with carbon fiber extraction openings.

Kimera Automobili
Kimera Automobili
Kimera Automobili

The rear bumper has a quick-release system so the entire rear hood can be removed to expose the engine, another apparent nod to the rally car.

Open it up, and you can see the parts of the gearbox and hand-crafted exhaust elements covered in a white ceramic material. The engine bay is finished in yellow and black Kevlar, the same material used in Group A rally cars. The rims are a new design, but they clearly reference the "Delta Evoluzione" era.

The interior is made from visible carbon fiber, and the seats are finished in perforated blue alcantara with red stitching. Kimera also used the same fluorescent orange the rally cars used to illuminate the dashboard and instruments. All the buttons are labeled the same as they were on the rally car, and there are two knobs on the center tunnel for controlling the ABS and traction control.

Kimera Automobili

Like before, the engine may be the highlight. Kimera worked some magic and got another 50 hp out of the engine, so this special edition of a special edition now produces 550 hp. It's mated to a manual gearbox with shorter, rally-like gear ratios.

This car weighs just 1,100 kilograms, or 2,425 pounds, thanks to the weight saving. We're talking about between one and two horsepower for every 2.2 pounds. Kimera didn't provide any performance details, but it will likely be as fast, if not faster, than the only surviving mass-produced car connected to Group B rallying. That's the Audi RS3, in case you were wondering.

A standard Kimera was priced at around $585,000 when introduced at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2021. Considering the substantial upgrades and exclusivity, we wouldn't be surprised if Kimera charges double for the Martini 7.

Kimera Automobili

What Next?

As we mentioned earlier, we get the sense that Kimera is a passion project and not necessarily in it for profit. Still, if something makes money, why stop it?

Only 37 Kimeras will be built, and late last year, 30 had already been sold. Building more would only upset existing owners, so Kimera can look back or go forward. The perfect Stratos restomod already exists, so there's no point in doing it again. The same goes for the Delta Integrale, which leaves the Fulvia.

The Fulvia is Lancia's OG rally car, and that's what we'd do. Yes, the four-door Fulvia is an ugly box of a car, but when was the last time you looked at the coupe? The 1970 Lancia Fulvia Rallye is a stunning machine, as you can see below.

Lancia also introduced a modern take on the Fulvia in 2003, back when retro styling was all the rage. Imagine a combination of these two cars, also powered by a wonderfully bonkers turbocharged and supercharged four-pot.

That's what we'd do.

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Wikipedia Commons

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