RE: PH Heroes: Lancia Delta Integrale – PistonHeads

14 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on RE: PH Heroes: Lancia Delta Integrale – PistonHeads
Lancia Delta

PH Heroes: Lancia Delta Integrale

Lancia may be gone but the all-conquering Delta Integrale will never be forgotten, writes Ollie Stallwood

If you were a rally fan during the late eighties, you could be forgiven for thinking you had become trapped in a motoring equivalent of Groundhog Day. Every time you switched on the television or slipped a videotape into the VCR, it seemed that – bar a change of scenery – you would always see the same little car winning. It was a boxy Italian hatchback at that, and you could have sworn it had been designed at some point during the end of the previous decade. And you’d be right.

It was the Lancia Delta Integrale, a Giorgio Giugiaro-penned five-door that had arrived in 1979. And here it was, swatting away all-comers on the world’s rally stages as if it were invincible, ultimately taking six world titles in as many years and becoming the most successful rally car of all time.

Lancia Delta

The road car, meanwhile, just got madder and badder as time went on too, with even early eight-valve versions blitzing 0-60mph in 6.4 seconds – and people called the Golf GTI a hot hatch. But obviously it wasn’t all straight-line speed – the rally success proved that. The car’s 2.0-litre 8V, and later 16V engine drove the wheels through a far more sophisticated four-wheel drive system than the Audi Quattro’s.

It consisted of a centrally mounted epicyclic torque converter and Ferguson viscous joint, with a Torsen-type rear differential. Its party trick, which had been tried and tested by car journos and salesmen a number of times, was that on a day when it was pouring with rain you could wind the engine up to maximum revs, drop the clutch, and experience no wheelspin at all, just immense forward thrust.

The Delta just worked, and sagely Lancia decided against binning it for a newer model, instead tweaking and building on its excellence, ultimately giving the car a 15-year shelf-life. The road car had started life as the eight-valve Delta HF 4WD with 150bhp then 165bhp. This became the 185bhp Integrale 8V (’88 to ’89), of which 7475 were built, and then Lancia created the 16V version (’89 to ’91) which pushed out 200bhp. Then came the Evo (’91 to ’94) which had a healthy 210bhp.

Interestingly, despite its humble beginnings, left-hand drive only layout, and the fact that Lancia left these shores a long time ago, the Integrale is now as Exotic and desirable as some second-hand Ferraris.

The ride is not soft by any means but the Integrale just accelerates, brakes, and turns impeccably, unfazed by undulations and 100 per cent focused on getting you down the road as quickly and with as little fuss as possible. Even newer performance cars would become unsettled and flustered where this 16-year-old Lancia feels absolutely spot-on. It turns in with razor-sharp precision and there is so much grip and steering feel that you simply feed in more power and blast off down the road in search of another bend.

Lancia Delta
Lancia Delta
Lancia Delta
Lancia Delta
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