14 February 2011

24 years in hiding - The Lancia ECV1 Returns

The Lancia ECV1 (Experimental Composite Vehicle) was a prototype Group S  rally car developed by Lancia to replace the Delta S4 in World Rally Championship competition for the 1988 season. However, Group B as well as Group S cars were banned from competition by the FIA in late 1986 due to safety concerns and the ECV never raced. Lancia instead developed the Group A Lancia Delta.

The car originally produced over 600 bhp from a 1759 cc twin-turbocharged engine. This engine, christened Triflux, had an unusual head design; the valves were crossed (for each side of the cylinder there was an intake and an exhaust valve), so that the two turbos could be fed by two separate manifolds. A single manifold carried the intake air (hence the name, from the three separate air ducts). However, Group S rules would have artificially limited the car's output to 300 hp to limit speeds.

The car made extensive use of  Kevlar and carbonfibre to save weight and add strength (even the wheels and driveshafts are carbonfibre) which help bring the design down to 930 kg (2,050 lb).
The car featured a new Martini colour scheme, replacing the S4's white bodywork with red. Lancia used the new scheme on its competition cars in 1987. 
However, the ECV was never to turn a (composite) wheel in anger. Until now, 24 years later.

Consigned to the Lancia museum as the Group A era kicked off in 1987, forgotten by time, until Lancia restoration specialist Giuseppe Volta  bought the car and started the mammoth task of turning a museum piece into a living, breathing rally weapon. Volta had it locked up in his workshop for many years, putting time and effort into restoring the car to it's former glory. An original TriFlux engine was rebuilt, with the help of the original designer, Claudio Lombardi, and modern Turbo-engine preparation expert, Claudio Berri and from the videos it's working very well indeed!
So the ECV1 got it’s first-ever outing at the 8th Rally Legend 2010 at the hands of Lancia rally legend Miki Biasion, a driver integral to Lancia’s group A success and who won two World Rally Championships at the wheel of the Delta Integrale. The ECV1 got it’s long-awaited debut, a day that rally fans thought would never arrive.
Even more info here.

You can see the two pipes here, one from the smaller first-stage turbo and the other from it's bigger brother.

Interior shot; that's a carbonfibre floor as it's a carbonfibre tub, like an F1 car...

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