The Lancia Delta appeared in 1979 and this small family car’s first generation would be around until 1994, proving to be a great commercial success. Road cars always did well on the back of Lancia’s legendary rallying prowess — established in the 1960s with the Fulvia and continued in the 1970s with the Stratos — and the Delta would be no exception.
The new Delta range was initially topped with Delta HF Turbo and the rally version was the S4. But in 1986 Lancia launched the four-wheel drive Delta HF, a sports model with turbocharged 2 litre engine. The following year this evolved into the Lancia Delta HF Integrale — one of the most awesome rally cars the planet has ever seen. With more aggressive styling to highlight its competitive character, this hot hatch dominated the World Rally Championship with 46 outright victories, six successive Constructors’ Championships (1987 to 1992) and four individual Drivers’ Championships.
Lancia enthusiasts naturally wanted their share of the action, and the company was happy to oblige. In any event it was necessary to homologate the new HF Integrale model, but sales of road-going versions far exceeded the minimum requirement for racing approval. Before the series was discontinued in 1994 over 44,000 Integrales were sold — an impressive total. This is perhaps not surprising, for the HF Integrale’s rally success was reflected in the fact that this five-door hatchback was a very practical road car, with enough unique styling touches to let everyone know it was special.
Permanent 4WD coupled with a sophisticated torque splitter made for clingy roadholding, complemented by rally suspension and ultra-efficient brakes. The fuel-injected twin-cam engine made for scorching acceleration and stratospheric top speed — performance that was even better with the advent of a 16-valve version. This really was (and is) the ultimate driver’s car. Enjoy!
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Italy
FIRST MANUFACTURED: 1987 (until 1994)
ENGINE: 1,995 cc DOHC Straight Four
PERFORMANCE: Top speed of 134 mph (215 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW: Lancia liked the HF Integrale so much that it produced several special editions over the years, often celebrated with an in-car plaque these included the 5 World Rally Champion, 6 World Rally Champion, Pearl White, Blue Lagos and Edizione Finale.