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Lancia Delta Integrale

Published: 4th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Fancy owning a motorsport legend? Paul Davies looks at true classics that made their names on rally stages and race tracks, and still provide fine drives today

Nottingham, November 1985, before the start of the Lombard RAC Rally, and the first time I’d seen Henri Toivonen for twelve months. I wished the Finnish star good luck, he headed for the British forests and I got on a ‘plane to a sports car race in Malaysia. Henri went on to score his second RAC victory, this time in Lancia’s newly homologated Delta S4. He repeated the win on the following Monte Carlo, and died when he crashed in Corsica in May.

Henri’s accident wasn’t the cause, but it hastened the end of the wonderful Group B era of rally supercars.

The four-wheel-drive, 450bhp, mid-engine, turbocharged S4 existed for just over a year, but like the Peugeot 205 T16, the Audi Sport Quattro and the MG Metro 6R4, it was just too bloody fast. But it wasn’t the end of the Delta rally car; in first HF and then Integrale form the car was to win the next six consecutive world championships for the famous Lancia name.

However the Lancia that won from 1987 to 1992 was very different from the S4. To kill of excess speed, new Group A rules demanded it would be a mildly modified version of the production car. Lancia added fourwheel- drive to the top model Delta HF Turbo of 1984-85, and increased the front-mounted engine’s capacity from 1.6-litre to 2.0 litres, to give 165bhp in production trim and the maximum permitted 300bhp in rally tune. Like Mitsubishi and Porsche, Lancia used twin, counterrotating balance shafts to smooth out vibrations in the hard worked four-cylinder engine.

As Lancia steamrollered onwards to win 46 world rallies, hot hatch fans benefited from a series of evermore capable and more powerful production cars developed solely to keep the Italian team winning. Juha Kankkunen (‘87 and ‘91) and Miki Biasion (‘88 and ‘89) were Drivers’ champions in the Delta.

The HF 4WD of 1987 gave way to the Integrale 8v (eight valve) in ‘88, adding a useful 20bhp in the process, and the following year four valves per cylinder pushed the power output of the 1995cc Integrale 16v to a heady 200bhp.

‘Evolution 1’ and ‘Evo 2’ models of ‘91 and ‘92 upped power to 215bhp for the on-sale version, whilst rally car output far exceeded that of the banned S4! At the same time water injected intercooling, engine mapping electronics and the operation of the three 4WD differentials (mechanical front and rear, viscous centre) became ever more clever. Yet another rule change effectively outlawed the Integrale for 1993, and road car production ceased that year when a new generation Fiat-based Delta appeared.

The Integrale was not just a limited production special: some 44,000-plus cars were made in its sevenyear life - all of them left hand drive, although many RHD conversions were undertaken (it’s not as nice to drive though). Now Integrales are a sought after alternative to the Sierra Cosworths of the era, and considered by many to be a more engaging drive than the high-tech Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Evos that were to follow.

Lancia Delta Integrale Summary

Production

All models (HF 4WD, Integrale): 44,296

Technical

Engine: Transverse, front-mounted, four-cylinder, in-line, with cast iron block and aluminium cylinder head. 1995cc. Single belt driven overhead camshaft (8-valve), or twin camshaft (16v). Garrett turbocharger.
Power: 165bhp (HF 4WD) to 215bhp (16v Evo 2).
Gearbox: 5 speed.
Drive: Four wheels with torque splitting, viscous central differential.
Suspension: Independent all round with struts and coil springs.
Brakes: Disc all round with ABS.
Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion.

Claim to fame

Winner of six Manufacturers and four Drivers titles in World Rally Championship between 1987-92. 46 WRC victories.

Famous names

Henri Toivonen, Markku Alen, Juha Kankkunen, Miki Biasion, Alessandro Fiorio, Russell Brookes, Pentti Airikkala, Bruno Saby, Mikael Ericsson, Per Eklund, Jorde Recalde, Didier Auriol. (Steve Smith and Rodney Barrett both drove Integrales on the 2000 RAC Rally, the final appearance on a World Championship Rally).

Where to buy

Go to a specialist such as John Whalley Ltd (http://www.whalleyintegrale.uk.com), Richard Thorne (http://www.rtcc.co.uk), or Walkers Garage (http://www.walkers-garage.co.uk) for the pick of the crop and the best imports. Otherwise scan the classifieds carefully, and get an expert to have a look at any buy.

What to look for

If it's RHD, check it's been done properly. If it's an import, ensure it's all legal, and with taxes paid. Cam belts need changing at 36,000 miles (8-valve) and 24,000 miles (16-valve), clutches take a pounding; if it's stiff then consider if a replacement is required. Suspension bushes wear causing knocks. Excessive smoke from the exhaust when hot could mean worn valve guides or a turbo on the way out.

What to pay

Prices vary wildly depending on condition and model but £4000 should buy a nice HF4WD or Integrale 8-valve, although expect to pay up to £8000 for a decent 16-valve and even more for an Evo model. Various special edition models were made and these command a premium.

Clubs

Lancia Motor Club: http://www.lanciamotorclub.co.uk
Independent site: http://www.hfintegrale.co.uk

Classic sport

It’s not (yet) eligible for historic rallying, but makes an excellent (and wildly different) track day machine.

Maintenance, tuning and sport

Most spares readily available from specialists. Turbo engines can be tweaked to in excess of 400bhp, but race-standard preparation is needed.

Competitive Rating: 8



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