Hagerty Video: Driving the Kimera EVO37: The Group B Restomod | Henry Catchpole – The Driver’s Seat

Posted: 2023-04-26 15:00:00
Author: Hagerty
Henry Catchpole is a rallying fan through and through, so driving and reviewing Kimera’s rally-inspired restomod, based on the legendary Group B Lancia 037, is a pretty good day in the office for him. Throw in some amazing mountain roads, a race track and the odd Martini livery and you have all the ingredients for something truly memorable

The Kimera EVO37 is the brainchild of Luca Betti and it combines the looks and layout of the 037 with an engine that takes inspiration from the Lancia Delta S4. The amazing little 2.1-litre four cylinder engine that sits behind the driver is both supercharged and turbocharged. It has been engineered by Italtecnica in Turin and in its most powerful map puts out 505bhp and 442lb ft of torque. That’s pretty wild in a car that weighs less than 1100kg or 2400lb.

As with most restomods, like those from Singer, Alfaholics and Eagle, the Kimera is a very analogue driving experience. To that end, there is a manual six-speed gearbox from Graziano, which has also featured in the Lamborghini Gallardo and Audi R8 over the years. What differentiates the EVO37 from other restomods is its very distinct rally persona. You can see this in the twin Ohlins dampers at the rear, but you can feel it straight away on the move through the steering and the way it soaks up bumps and tackles corners.

In the film we cover a lot of ground, starting at the beautiful Villa Kimera just outside Cuneo in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Here we interview Luca Betti and discover the genesis of both the company name and the EVO37. Then we head to the beautiful Colle della Maddalena and its profusion of spectacular hairpins to drive the car on the road. Then it’s off to Turin for a visit to Italtecnica where the engine is built, before we pop over to Martini for a look at the latest, limited edition Kimera. Finally we stop off at a fun little race track to drive Kimera’s development car with shorter gearing and more power.

We hope you enjoy the film and Glenn Winhall’s superb editing and filming (aided on this occasion by Nick Wilkinson). Please do give it a thumbs up and share it with anyone else who you think might enjoy it – it really helps us to keep making content like this on the Hagerty channel.

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Hagerty Video Transcript

– This is the Kimera EVO37. Nestled in the northwest of Italy near the beautiful city of Cunio is Villa Kimera. A sort of restomod of a building that once provided refuge for a king and was previously owned by the lawyer of the mighty Gianni Agnelli. Now it is home to this fascinating automotive restomod, the brainchild of Luca Betti, former professional rally driver and possibly Tony Stark’s Italian cousin.

It’s based on the Lancia 037, but has an engine inspired by the Delta S4. And as a devotee of all things WRC, that is music to my ears. (ambient music) Let me just don the Italian bubble hat for the rally chat and explain why this car

To someone like me presses all the right rally buttons. It starts with the influence of the Lancia 037, fairly obviously. And that car’s cool because in a rallying landscape of essentially boxy looking cars, well this is just more supercar, isn’t it? It’s like the Stratos that preceded it. It’s just cool.

Then there’s the fact that it is the last car to have rear wheel drive and win a world rally championship against the Audi Quatros no less with a mixture of, well, being brilliant to drive, Voltarol’s favorite rally car to drive apparently, and also a bit of skullduggery on the part of the team.

Salt and brushes anyone. Then there’s the other part of this car, the engine, which is, well, inspired by the Delta S4, the most fearsome, I think probably, of all the Group B rally cars. Certainly in terms of the power that it produced. It was so fearsome that well,

Sadly it killed Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto. It also killed Group B in the process. But this car being a sort of Lancia Group B greatest hits, well, it’s just fantastic for a rally fan like me. Like the original, the EVO37 begins with a relatively humdrum beater Monte Carlo or a Lancia Scorpion if you’re in the US. However, there’s not much left by the time the transformation is complete. But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s go back to how this whole project got off the ground.

– Well, the story of Kimera EVO37 start in a winter night in autumn when I invited two of my best supplier, Italtecnica Mario Cavagnero and his son Carlo and Alessandro Bonetto who came here to see one 037 Group B and eat tortellini. You know, it’s difficult.

So we have this dinner together and I told them, “Okay, I think we can create something special.” And so we started to share our idea. We have the first brainstorming, we can do this, this, this. And basically I was already with the car in my mind.

In fact, if you see to the model we have in scale 1.5, this is completely designed by me and all the concept was already there 100%. But then of course, thanks to Italtecnica and Bonetto, we will be able to create all the technical aspects. And after this,

I was searching for someone that permit me to refine the design and we found the Luca Bongiorno, which was the chef designer of Pininfarina where the old 037 was designed. And Luca is a fantastic guy. For me was an honor that as such important designer participated to our project

And he share with me the ideas. He was always with the very respect of us, of me, of the other part of the group, and never imposed to his line. And at the end, this car is exactly a concert of passionate people that getting together to create something driven by passion.

– [Henry] The result is a car that looks unmistakably like its stubby yet sleek Stratali inspiration, but with much more angular muscle and aggression. It’s an impressively cohesive evolution, perhaps typified by the modern interpretation of the originals telephone dial wheels. Under the carbon fiber skin is an integrated roll cage

And tubular subframes front and rear. There are double wishbones all round and like the original, there are twin shocks for the back wheels. To me there is something so seductive about that quartet of orange Ohlins dampers. It instantly screams special stage. But Luca didn’t want this to just look like a rally car.

– There is a huge difference of the characteristic of a race car in circuit and a race car in rally. Basically in circuit, the corner are normally quite long. A driver, even if has a Formula 1 stay four seconds in corner. In rally is totally different.

The timing in the corner are very very fast and the car is always correcting his line. It’s a completely different way of driving and the EVO37 is a car based on this philosophy. So you can feel a car that could permit immediately to to slide

Without the typical movement that the circuit car has, when it’s light that it spin, so you can manage it and play with the with the accelerator which is the best thing that we can have for being rally drivers. – Welcome to the Colle della Maddalena between Italy and France. Seen of one of faster copies greatest exploits in the (indistinct), but the Alps Mariteam are of course famous for four wheel drama too. We are right in the heart of rally country here. Camp that way. (car engine revs)

Monte Carlo and San Ramo that way. Good names. (car engine revs) Particularly for an 037. (car engine roars) There’s so much to enjoy about just being in this car. So many stylistic things. So it feels small in here, but actually there’s also quite a lot of room. I love the view out in terms of that sort of low wind screen, feels really super car, tiny mirrors. You can see those gaping intakes behind you. Oh, it’s so loud and roar in here. And in such a rally soundtrack with that four cylinder, 2.2 liters,

And a massive Garrett turbo charger on it. Obviously, with super charger you as well. I love these little red buttons down here, which obviously are both what be used generally in a rally car back in the day. In this car they open and close the windows and well I’m not quite sure what else because this is actually a pre-production prototype so some of the interior isn’t up to the beautiful fully labeled speck of the finished article that you can see here on this fresh customer car. Personally, I rather like

The slightly raw competition car vibe, but this is rather more befitting of a car costing around 450,000 pounds. To be honest though, however this EVO37 was trimmed, you’d get the feeling of being in something a bit WRC the moment you started driving. As soon as you take a couple of quarters in this car you can tell that it’s bred from a rally car and that it’s being set up by a rally driver. And it’s all in that steering. To anyone jumping out of a modern super car steering probably feels quite, well sort of, quite light but quite slow. And you notice- (car engine revs) the roll in the car. Digging the nose as well, but it just means capture the ball with bandwidth really I suppose. (car engine roars)

It feels beautifully adjustable. I absolutely love the feel of this in terms of in chassis. And actually you realize you want to drive it quite smoothly, get it loaded up in the corners, and then load it with the- (car engine roars) throttle afterwards and you notice it as well, just like an F40 once it starts sliding- You have to stick with the throttle. You have to keep it on boost, otherwise you snap off quite aggressive into the boost. Obviously you lift off an all that talk just shuts down. (car engine roars) Oh, what a fun car. This is a properly grown up experience

And asks a lot of you. (car engine roars) But it’s worth it. (car engine roars) It’s so fun too and this isn’t even a full map. In terms of respect, well, it doesn’t get more classic than green over tan does it. Gearbox is a Graziano six feet gear box that is also being used in the Lamborghini Gallardo. (car engine roars) And the Audi R8. So it feels nice and familiar. Feel that shift, you just have to be careful going across the gate for the first time. I love the brakes on this as well. Lots of feel, lighter sort of nicer depth to the travel of the pedal. (car roars) So this hasn’t got ABS.

And you can really set the car off into corners on the brakes. Really lean in. (car roars) One thing I actually would like is a big hand brake here. I think it would just suit the car. I think I’d probably change this seat a bit just for a bit more support and I think they are going to for some of the other production cars. This is not a car, I don’t think, to go and do a really long journey in perhaps. You take it out for a blast and you concentrate every step of the way. There will probably be a bit more sound ending on the final customer cars too in order to make it a bit more friendly on long journeys. But I hope not too much because I really like this car’s slightly rowdy nature. It rides bumps with sublime composure

Just as you’d expect from a rally car. But I love that this serenity and the suspension is contrasted with a slight sense of mayhem elsewhere. Is this for everyone? Absolutely not. And I think it’s all the better for it. And the same way as that MST Escort had such a distinct rally car feel to it, so this does. (car engine roars) Because of its pre-production status, this car has Kimera’s two roadmaps for the engine. There is a third engine map for the track, which takes power up to 505 brake horsepower but we’ll come back to that in a bit. For now we have the option of around 300 brake horsepower.

It will be enough given that the car weighs under 1100 kilos or 2,400 pounds or in map two, a more feisty 420 brake horsepower. I actually think the car just feels so much happier in its more aggressive setting. It’s really interesting the way this delivers its power because obviously there is a huge amount of boost. The little 2.2 liter four cylinder engine and the massive Garrett turbo charger, backed up by the supercharger.

Obviously it feels a really boosty car, really boosty. Actually the way it comes in, you realize after a while he’s pretty smooth. It’s not the purely sort of big bang of an F40 as much as this car does remind me of an F40. What a car. What a road. (car squeals) Now after experiencing some of what the engine could deliver, I wanted to find out a bit more about just how it goes about its business. So we left the mountains behind and headed to Italtecnica in the heart of the Piemonte region.

This is a family engineering business that has a very impressive client list of motorsport and super car manufacturers. There’s also a workshop here preparing historic rally cars like this original 037 and this very special S4, with a wild twin turbo TriFlex engine. But we are here to talk about

The Kimera’s rather exotic engine with the head of technical direction in the powertrain department, Carlo Cavanero. Carlo, thank you so much for showing us around your amazing company. – You’re welcome. – And this is obviously the EVO37’s engine. So we’ve got steel block in here

And it was all developed from the original O37. – Yes, all the part our developed starting from scratch. The only thing that with the Kimera, we have maintained is the layout. – So the really unique thing about this engine is the fact that we have turbocharger. I see Garrett over there,

But we also have a supercharger. – [Carlo] Yes. – So how do you get them to work? – Yes, then there is a turbocharger that is a spin by a supercharger. This layout was quite similar to the original Lancia Delta S4 engine, but it is different because update with the electronic throttle system

And an electric clutch. Then at lower PM, the clutch is engaged and this valve is completely closed. Supercharger bring iron from the turbocharger and help it to spin fast. And then push air in the intercooler. This valve is closed in a way that air cannot return to the turbocharger.

And then at 4,000 and the 200 RPM, this valve is completely open and the clutch is dissembled, disengaged. And then the turbocharger push the air directly in the intake manifold. – The reason for de-clutching the supercharger at higher revs is that it would otherwise be drawing nearly 50 brake horsepower at 7,000 RPM.

The end result is 505 brake horsepower or a ridiculous specific output of 235 brake horsepower per liter. As glamorous as a V8 or a V12, maybe not, but this is a fascinating 4-cylinder. Now from petrol to potent liquids of another kind, Martini. (upbeat music) The famous vermouth manufacturer was founded 160 years ago

Just up the road in Turin, but it was about 55 years ago when Kent Rossi started putting the name on the side of cars, starting of course with Porsche. But over the years those famous stripes have been seen on all sorts of manufacturer’s cars, everything from Lotus to Brabham to Williams to Ferrari

In Formula 1. And my favorite of course the Dry Martini powerboat team. In the WRC we had Ford with its Focus, which looked particularly cool. But there’s one manufacturer that has given Martini racing more success than any other. In the Group A era, the late eighties and early nineties,

The Delta won six championships on the bounce. The fifth and sixth of those were celebrated with special edition road cars the Martini 5 and the Martini 6. But that all seemed perhaps just a little bit wrong because there was another car that had also worn

The Martini livery and it was also a Lancia and had also won a world championship, Lato 37. Surely there should be a Martini 7 as well. And now Kimera is gonna put that right, which seems like quite an honor for such a little manufacturer. This is the Martini 7. It’s pure white paint

And the relatively simple stripes somehow elongate the look of the car. There is a new splitter at the front, but even cooler is the ability to remove the bumper at the rear like the rally cars. I love the lamp pods, obviously, but the white coated exhausts

And blue interior are right up my aesthetic strata too. Like the EVO37, it is all built by Alessandro Bonetto to exacting standards. But the 7 is not just about the looks, because it also has slightly different hardware in the shape of shorter gearing which just so happens to have been fitted

To another Martini levered car. This turbo found wonder is affectionately known as Penelope and it’s Kimera’s development vehicle with a full 505 brake horsepower, that shorter gearing, and a set of sticky Trofeo R tires. And while Ferrari has Fiorano, Kimera has Busco. (car engine roars) It’s already tight, nasty, little circuit,

That’s kind of both perfect really for a rally car. And the difference with this car is that it is got the shorter gearing of the Martini 7 car, but also it has an extra stage map. Which gives us the full 505 brake horsepower. This car, I mean, I’ve already compared it to a Ferrari F40 in a way. (car engine roars) But it’s like an F40 plus. Never let it be said that this is not the car that keeps your hands very full. I love the way you just ride that wave of- (car squeals) Boost. This car does actually have traction control which when I had it turned on, did an admirable job of keeping everything reigned in surprisingly smoothly. In fact, you could feel an added level of refinement to the whole drivetrain with the latest mapping and the different clutch.

So you’ve got a rear view mirror here as well, which is nice. Actually a camera so you can see what’s behind or you can have it as a mirror just so you can see that engine bay, which I like. Such a sort of calm, steering such beautifully, flying suspension. It’s absolutely frantic mad engine. To be honest as much as I love driving this on track because it is fun. It’s at a road car where I think this really makes the most sense. (car engine roars) I just love the way it rides those curves. It might be my favorite thing about this car actually. And it’s why I think it makes such a cool, cool road car. That rally DNA in it, that rally set. I had no idea what to expect before we came out to Italy. But what I found is something really rather wonderful. It’s a car that challenges you every step of the way. Just as a road creation of a Group B car should in my mind. It feels a little like heresy to say this but the original road going Stradoli homologation versions of Group B rally cars have always struck me as a little underwhelming. They look fantastic and I love them for what they represent, but their detuned powertrains mean they can’t really

Hold a candle to their wild competition counterparts in the driving stakes. It’s a bit of an Instagram versus reality sort of situation. This Kimera EVO37, however, sets that right. This feels like a true road car reflection of a Group B rally. (dramatic music)