CC Twofer: 1989 & 1993 Lancia Delta HF Integrale – Unlikely Pair In Disrepair

On the whole, there are fewer desperately broken or unkempt cars in Japan, but there are always exceptions. I’ve featured a few in previous posts, but this time we are talking about high-performance European exotics, which the Lancia Delta Integrale certainly qualifies. Yet that more-equal-than-others status has not prevented at least some of these precious rally machines from being left out to rot.

The first Delta I caught, a couple months ago, was this impressively augmented Evo 2. At least, I think that’s what it is, given what’s left of it. Rally cars are supposed to live fast and die young, but obviously the grim repairman forgot to finish this one.

However, it’s lost its license plates, to odds are it will not be around for too much longer. We’re probably looking at a parts car. Externally, it’s only missing its Lancia shields and a few badges, but who knows what lurks within?

The second one I found is a slightly older 16v. That one was impossible to photograph from the rear, which it turns out meshed pretty well with the first one being hard to catch from the front. But the two cars do have notable differences.

The 16v looks like it only took half the steroids that its younger sibling did. The body kit and hood augmentation, though similar, is less massive. And the Evo’s famous roof spoiler, complete with the obligatory “Martini Racing” decal (though no Evo 2 was raced with that sponsor, it seems), is absent from the 16v.

Let’s do a little historical recap. The Lancia Delta was originally launched back in 1979 as a five-door hatchback with a peaceful 1.3 or a competent 1.5 litre engine driving the front wheels. The unassuming Lancia was transformed into a world-class rally car by the introduction of an AWD drivetrain mated to a turbocharged 2-litre in the 1986 Delta HF 4WD.

The rallying bones were evident, as the HF 4WD came just one year after the mid-engined Delta S4 Group B. The S4, along with its Stradale “production” variant, was a completely different car underneath, merely decorated with a Delta-like body made for the Group B rallies, until those were banned in 1986. The HF 4WD and its subsequent descendants were front-engined, and thus much closer to a standard Delta.

In 1988, the Delta HF Integrale made it to the showrooms, as well as the proving grounds of the WRC. This initial version had the same 8-valve engine as its 4WD predecessor, albeit boosted to 185hp. The next year, a 16-valve 2-litre good for 200hp was installed. This added power required bigger wheels and from that point the fenders started to grow outwards. The hood also started to develop a bulge, as well as cooling vents.

Although the Delta was now a decade old, the HF Integrale was just getting going. The WRC victories piled on, seemingly without end. Lancia took the manufacturers crown in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992 – a feat that has yet to be bested.

The ultimate HF Integrale, also known as the Evo, was launched in 1991, powered by a 205hp version of the Fiat DOHC 2-litre. A lot of body-building had taken place between the Integrales 16v and the Evo, resulting in a very chunky-looking car, complete with a set of new 16-inch wheels, larger hips, that peculiar air-brake-like rear spoiler and new headlights.

It’s hard for me to tell how original these cars are inside, but the 16v looks pretty stock, as far as these things go. Just very, very dusty…

The Evo seems to have the proper high-back Recaros and the correct Momo steering wheel, but it’s had its fair share of ameliorations along the way. That silver radio really looks out of place. Interesting that the older car has a console, but the younger one did away with it, though that may well be only specific to this particular one. But then that Evo 2 looks like a proper rally car and makes the 16v seem almost tame by comparison.

I’m not 100% sure that this is an Evo 2 (1992-94), as I really don’t know all the minutiae of the Delta Integrale’s multiple versions. However, they do say that the Evo 2 has an aluminium gas cap, which seems to be the case here.  The “unleaded fuel” sticker also implies this is a catalytic car, so more probably an Evo2 (though there were catalytic-equipped Integrales since 1989 for certain markets) with the 215hp engine. I did check with CC’s own 6’1” and 32-inch inseam WRC encyclopedia, known to us mortals as Mr Jim Klein, and he feels this might well be, indeed, the genuine article.

Like most of you I’m sure, I’ve never had the pleasure of going sideways down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere with parting walls of spectators on either side of my speeding conveyance egging me on to go even faster despite my better judgment. Rallying is a strange and scary land to many of us. It makes for spectacular viewing, that’s for sure.

A little Youtube clip is worth a thousand words, so in the interest of brevity, have a look at the above. There are many to choose from, so I picked a short montage of the Tour de Corse 1993 – the Delta Integrale’s final WRC season. Take it away, Carlos!

After ’93, they did take it away. The HF Integrale Evo 2 was retired from the WRC, having lost to Toyota, though the halo of six consecutive WRC wins meant that road car sales continued. The rest of the Delta range, on the other hand, was replaced by a completely new (and thoroughly uninspiring) “Nuova Delta” based on the Fiat Tipo platform. The very last batch of the 1st generation HF Integrales were painted a deep shade of crimson and sold exclusively to Lancia dealers, as a sort of souvenir, in 1995.

I had a friend who, years ago, had a Delta GT i.e. – a great little car with a reasonably quick 108hp 1.6 litre DOHC engine. So these Lancias do tug at my heartstrings a bit. I was never much of a rallying fan, so they don’t excite me the way they do some of you, but they’re still rare Italian exotics in peril. Finding one of these sleeping rough half a world away from Italy cold be regarded as a stroke of luck, but finding two has given me pause to wonder about taking up unicorn breeding professionally.


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