Lancia S4

1/24 Lancia S4 by Paul Adams

Today’s World Rally Championship is a sophisticated, smooth running, well organised and oiled machine, pitching man and machine against the roughest, toughest terrain the world has to offer. The drivers are international stars, helping the manufacturers propel their products around thousands of miles of special stage, from, amongst others, Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Italy, France, Greece and Great Britain.

The WRC is marketing man’s dream because in today’s championship the teams have to use mass production cars, like the Ford Focus, Citroen C4 and the Subaru Impreza. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. Walk into your local Ford dealer and buy a car that looks like the one that Marcus Gronholm drives to win rallies. In the mid 1980’s, things were very different. The manufacturers realised the marketing potential of championship, but the rules allowed the teams to build what amounted to one-off specials. Only 200 identical cars had to be built for homologation, thus allowing the teams to plough vast sums of money into rapidly developing the cars. Rules permitted a variety of engine configurations, four wheel drive and power output was unlimited. And so was born the mighty Peugeot 205T16, Audi’s 650bhp S1 Quattro, MG’s 6R4 (a 400bhp mini Metro!), Ford’s beautiful RS200 and Lancia’s 037 and S4.

Throughout 1984, 85 and 86, the teams staged monumental battles elevating the popularity of the sport to new heights. The cars were spectacularly fast and the pace of development was furious. The cars sprouted huge down-force inducing wings and spoilers in an attempt to harness the enormous horsepower on tap.  Unfortunately the sports organisers failed to keep up with developments. Safety was seemingly a side issue and as interest grew, so did spectator attendance. Witness any video from the time and you will see the rally drivers dancing their cars between walls of spectators lining the stages, barely able to see the road ahead. Inevitably accidents occurred. Ari Vatanen just survived a huge crash in the Peugeot, which left him out of the sport for 2 years. Portugal in 1986, saw 37 spectators mowed down and 3 killed by an RS200 driven by local driver Joachim Santos. As a result, Audi withdrew from the sport. During the ’86 Tour de Corse, the sports most talented driver, Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto, were killed while leading the rally. Rather eerily, Attillio Bettaga was killed, one year earlier, on the same date, in the same event, driving the No 4 Lancia 037. Toivonen’s car was also No 4. There were other GpB deaths that year too. F1 star turned rally driver, Marc Surer lost his Co- driver in a fiery crash in a local event after a collision with a tree. 

The sports governing body, FISA, had to act, and within hours of Toivonen’s death, Group B was banned for the 1987 season on, and the cars were resigned to museums.

GRPB models

To make models of the GrpB cars has always presented problems. Surprisingly, only two of the cars listed above have been kitted by the large manufacturers. Tamiya did an early 1985 Peugeot 205 and Hasegawa produced a nice kit of the 1984/85 Lancia 037.  All other kit offerings have been in resin, low in quality and generally expensive and/or hard to obtain. There have been a few highlights. Modellers of Japan did a number of high quality kits as have Czech manufacturer Reji Models, which have now become collector’s items, and therefore investments, rather than buildable kits. Some `garage’ manufacturers have been producing copies of Modellers kits, which is how I came by my latest project, the Lancia S4. This transkit uses the Hasegawa 037 kit and builds up off of that kit’s chassis. It’s not 100% accurate, but who’s counting?

What’s in the box?

The kit has two decal options, the regular factory Martini colours, and those of the Jolly Club, a satellite team, in Totip colours of white, green and orange. I chose the Martini option as this will allow me to replicate the car that Toivonen crashed on the 1986 Tour De Corse. Morbid I know, but how many aircraft have you built that a pilot lost his life in?

The kit contains a resin bodyshell, decals, cockpit, exhaust, radiators, turbo, supercharger, wheels, tyres, air intakes, smoke coloured clear plastic for the windows, and vac formed windscreen and a resin centre piece for the rear wing.

build it!

As is now customary, I started with the bodyshell. There’s always plenty of cleaning up to do, so seams, flash and air holes were filled and sanded. I test fitted the shell onto the Hasegawa chassis. Four holes need to be drilled out inside the shell to correspond with the mounting points on the chassis, which simply need shortening 2mm to fit. Following a thorough wash, the shell was primed with Halfords white primer, and after two days of drying, wet sanded with 1200 grit paper.  On this particular project (started 18 months ago) I decided to use Halfords reliable Appliance Gloss White. I applied my usual 4 coats, two of which were `wet’, heavier coats. A week of drying was allowed before polishing commenced. I used 1500 grit wet and dry and gently sanded back the finish. Tamiya’s compounds brought back the shine, ready for the decals.

I planned to clearcoat the decals and so to achieve a realistic finish I applied the Martini stripes and a couple of the large Lancia badges. The sponsors markings on the real machine are not under any clearcoat, just the stripes. Considering these were `garage’ decals, they fitted very well and had a nice, crisp finish with good colour saturation. The bonnet decal came in two parts, with one part containing the blue stripes with the red section, and the other just the blue striping. This made application much easier over the curves of the wing and bonnet. The rear decals had to go over the wheel arch and proved a little problematic, but with patience and Microsol, the decal laid down very well. I then attempted to highlight the panel lines with a black artist pen, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I’d forgotten to re-scribe the lines before painting!! I’ll get the hang of this modelling thing one day!

I allowed another week of drying for the decals, just to ensure no moisture was trapped beneath, and during the spring bank holiday weekend I applied 4 coats of Halfords clear lacquer. Clearing over decals is always a scary experience and so I gingerly applied a mist coat and waited for a reaction. After 30 minutes everything seemed ok. I applied 3 wet coats and sat back to admire my achievement. Nothing went wrong! Further polishing with Tamiya compounds left a pleasing finish.

  I masked up the windows surrounds and door cills and sprayed these using decanted Halford’s matt black via my airbrush. That just leaves the inside of the bodyshell to be painted matt black too.

With the chassis and bodywork mainly complete, I turned to painting and decaling the cockpit. The resin replacement forms the floor and rear firewall, and nicely cast it is too. Using my references, I found that the Lancia features a carbon Kevlar finished floor and most of this is covered with a protective heat shield covering which is laid beneath the seats and on the firewall, so that the crew aren’t exposed to too much heat from the engine compartment.

After priming I sprayed Halfords Satin black, a good base for carbon decaling. As 60% of the cockpit would be covered with Bare Metal Foil, I only needed to decal the footwell and surrounding sills with Scale Motorsports carbon Kevlar decals. I cut up small pieces of Tamiya Tape to form templates for each carbon decal and applied them gradually over a few days. I was pleased with the resultant authentic look. The real interior has a semi-flat look, so I left decals without any further finishing.

I then applied the heat shielding using BMF. The same technique is employed as if decaling, forming templates, but using paper and or measuring individual pieces. The transmission hump proved difficult. I was trying to achieve some natural looking creases but ended with the `incompetent modeller look’ instead! Nevertheless, it should look fine once hidden partially by the smoked windows.



The kit doesn’t provide seats, instead using the examples from the Hasegawa kit. These look to be fairly accurate representation of the mid eighties Sparco seat used by Lancia. After priming I sprayed the backs of the seats with Halfords satin black once more and applied the same CK that I used on the floor. This time though I airbrushed 2 coats of 2 part clear on. This would then allow me to mask off the CK area and spray the fabric area of the seat. For this I mixed a gloss dark blue from Tamiya acrylics, airbrushing this on with two wet coats. Onto this I could apply the drivers name decals and seat manufacturer markings.  I then airbrushed the entire seat with acrylic flat varnish form Hannants to matt everything down.

Next up was the seat belt harness. I use Studio 27’s sets, which allows you to complete two seats. Each set comes with pre-cut adhesive backed webbing, only needing to be cut into suitable lengths. A fret of buckles and adjusters help complete the look and various stickers are use to add the manufacturer’s logos. These were added to the seats with the odd drop of glue to hold everything down. The seats were fixed into place using blutak, allowing adjustment, if needed later.

My enthusiasm for this project was flagging after the Christmas break, so to obtain further motivation, I broke out the rally videos and a couple beers for a few hours and managed to rediscover the faith!

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Next up were the wheels, brakes, suspension and steering parts. The wheels and tyres were resin and after cleaning up received a coat of primer to check for flaws. These were my first set of resin tyres and posed a problem unique to me. What colour should they be? Black? Slightly grey? After a scratching my head a checking the references again…and wasting more time, I sprayed them with Halfords satin black and they looked perfect, black with a nice sheen to indicate they were fresh slick racing rubber. The real machine ran with aero spats over the wheels and so my model was suitably adorned. The `Pirelli’ markings come from the Hasegawa kit. Once these were fitted over the discs, (covering up more painting!) the chassis sat on all fours for the first time, a milestone in any car model project. 

With the chassis painting complete, I began painting and fitting the engine and resin parts, which helped make up the substantial looking engine bay. I quickly realised that once rear radiator ducting, bodyshell and smoked rear screen were fitted, most of the detail would be obscured. So, in an attempt to speed up the completion of the model, I carried out rudimentary painting and added some washes and detail where I felt appropriate. The twin radiators are partly visible and so these were plumbed in and detail painted. The engine was given and coat of Alclad Aluminium as were the other parts to be a dull silver finish (Pic 1,2). The exhausts were more visible and were airbrushed with Alclad Polished Aluminium followed with weathering via Humbrol Gunmetal, a little Tamiya clear orange and some purplish heat staining via Testors purple RC paint thinned with cellulose thinners (Pic 3). When later test fitting another radiator which cools the engine, I discovered it didn’t fit in the position originally intended. I cured this by attaching it directly inside the bodyshell, which worked a treat. I wish I had of sussed this earlier as it would have saved a huge amount of time! The radiator ducting was in resin once more and required some trimming to fit inside the shell. Simply painted satin black and glued in place it covered most of my painting as expected. The engine bay is not particularly accurate, but detailed enough for this kind of kerbside build (Pic 4).

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The bodyshell had long since been adorned with the Martini striping but was in need of the remaining sponsors decals to really complete the look. The transkit provided the main sponsor logos but needed white underlays to achieve the white parts. Fearing a fiddly job and with time now of the essence, I decided to use the markings from the new Profil 24 kit of Toivonen’s Lancia. Printed by Cartograph these proved ideal and saved a large amount of time and effort. A replacement sheet has been obtained direct from the manufacturer. A few minor markings came from the Hasegawa sheet as some proved too big for the `garage’ produced transkit (Pic 5,6).

The grilles provided a small headache. The Lancia has eight, some of which can be fitted from the inside of the shell. Tamiya’s gauze material was used. I attempted to utilize the same stuff for the others, those mainly being on the `bonnet’ and rear hatch. After fiddling around for hours and realising I couldn’t cut a clean angled edge with Tamiya’s gauze I purchased some etched gauze from Hiroboy’s website. This proved to be even worse, too thick and too hard to cut because of that and it was out of scale. I was fortunate to find some Crazy Modeller etched gauze on the Media Mix Hobby site and within days I had the perfect material. Once cut into shape and airbrushed Humbrol satin black, it matched the Tamiya gauze very well (Pic 7,8). 

The transkit uses the headlamps from the Hasegawa 037. These were airbushed Alclad Polished Aluminium and after some fiddling with the sockets on the shell, went into place nicely. The inner two lamps are covered with round etch covers, painted white, with Profil 24 `Siem’ logos. The vac formed windscreen was trimmed, polished up and glued into place with white glue and left overnight to dry.

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The inner surfaces of the shell received a brush painted coat of Humbrol satin black, more corner cutting, but as little of it would be visible later on, it would look fine.

The resin dash provided more excitement. I couldn’t find any consisted finishes to it, seemingly Lancia changing the spec as the car evolved. I plumped for a satin black finish, adding gloss black dial surrounds and red and white switches in keeping with the factory look. The piece also has the various fluid bottles that are mounted beneath the front cowl. These were spayed flat white, masked, and the surrounding area painted Alclad Aluminium. The bottle tops were picked out with Humbrol Flat back. I used the dash decals from the Profil kit with a drop of gloss varnish added for the glass. The dash top was finished off with Tamiya flat black. The whole unit is held in place with Tamiya tape and blutak! (Pic 9,10)

With the chassis complete, I could get to the excitement of mounting the bodyshell. This was short lived when I realised it just didn’t fit as well as my earlier tests. Following some last minute trimming inside the body, it when on ok, though still very tight. When I next attempt this type of build I will leave the body until last, that way I can trim away without fear of undoing any work I’ve done elsewhere, like the paint! The works Lancia’s ran with smoked rear and side glass, or what was likely to be Perspex. I’m unsure if this was to keep prying eyes from seeing the technical aspects of the car at the time or just the Italians adding some style to the thing. I suspect the latter! Whatever the case, it now looks pimped! The windows were fitted using Kristal Klear and I added photo etch fasteners using the same (Pic 11,12).

Toward the end of any model I draw up a `to do’ list. The Lancia’s list contained 28 points. These can be actual parts to be fitted or areas that require further attention or touch ups. I called this months report to a close with 15 still to do. I’ve still two weeks to complete the car before I head off to the Modelsport show on  April 6th.

Last month I managed to break the back of the project and just leave myself some last detail touches to complete.

The bodyshell was nicely in place and so were the windscreen, rear, rear ¾ windows, but not the door windows. These once again were smoked, but with small openings to allow some cool air into the crew cabin. This involved cutting a perfectly rectangular hole, which would then line up with the clear outer openings that are borrowed from the Hasegawa kit windows. Easy huh? A couple of possible hazards lay ahead. I had no more of the smoked acetate left, so one mistake would mean disaster for the windows I had ready. Also, the outer opening had to be cut from the Hasegawa windows and then trimmed, cleaned up and polished. No pressure then…

The transkit contained some paper template for the side windows including the location for the hole. Laying each window over the template, I used Tamiya masking tape to create the area, which was to be cut out. The rest of the window was masked up for protection. The acetate was about 15thou thick, and so required several careful passes with the knife, guided by a steel ruler, to cut through. I made two slips but fortunately these are out of sight! The outer openings were cut roughly from the Hasegawa windows using a razor saw. Fine sand papers were then used to trim and clean up the edges. After fitting them to the smoked acetate, I realised that the outer openings needed to be smoke colour too as they just looked stuck on! A few coats of Tamiya smoke later (brushed on) and they look much more realistic. [13]

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The rear wing was next up, but first it needed a `Lancia Martini ‘ logo on the rear face. More advertising space! The wing was carefully positioned, glued into place with white glue, and adorned with more etch fasteners. [14]

The front of the car has a rubbing strip of sorts, which presumably would act as an aero aide on tarmac events. The transkit included this yellowish acetate strip, which needed to be cut to size and shaped to fit. I had enough for three attempts. I got it just about right on the second, though, the strip refused to be held in place with white glue, or superglue! A thin strip of double- sided tape cured that problem. More etch boltheads were added together with some on around the headlamp area to represent the fixings for nighttime lights. I fashioned some hinges for the front access hatch using 20thou card, fuse wire and some etch boltheads. These was painted chrome silver and glued in place.[15]

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The transkit instructions suggested using the Hasegawa kit wipers, which after cleaning up and painting were too big! I purchased some coloured etch examples by Modellers of Japan via These were carefully bent to shape with my `Bug’ tool and once in place are simply superb. The Hasegawa kit rear view mirrors were used though, I only needed to add steady bars using fuse wire, painted Humbrol satin black, for them to look accurate.

The side repeaters and rear lights were painted using Tamiya enamel clear paints and fitted. The rear lights have a rubber gasket preventing leaks into the electrics. I made these from some discarded rubber backing from some old photo etch fasteners, simply using the light as a template. These gaskets are just visible on the model. The final touch was to add the rear hatch hinges and aerial. The hinges were shaped from the Hasegawa kit, and a small hole drilled through accepted a tiny loop of fuse wire to represent retaining wires for the long bolt fasteners. The aerial base and aerial came from Sakatsu.[16]

Finally after two years of occasional input, my model was complete. All that was left was to clean off some fingerprints and set up the lights and camera for the photographs. Overall I am happy with the end result. I regret not realising that my time would have been better spent not trying to recreate the engine area, and just build it curbside. I have learnt that in some cases, leaving the body to last is a better route to go, as I should have done on my resin Honda build from last year. The hobby is about constant education and challenges. I’ve certainly had that this last 12 months! [16.17.18]

2 Replies to “Lancia S4”

  1. The build looks great. Were can I find that trans-kit? I did not notice any info in the text.
    Thanks for any info,

  2. Hi James,
    I’m glad you liked the build. Unfortunatley the TK was a limited run, so it’s not available anymore. Profil24 do a full resin kit for the same car which is much more accurate than this example. Happy Modelling

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