Alas, this reporter still hasn’t had a chance to drive a real live Integrale in anger. I can remember traveling through Europe when I was 19 and being interested in two things, girls and cars. The Ford Escorts in England seemed a hell of a lot sportier than the ones at home, and the girls had bad teeth. The femme fatales in the south of France were a lot more joli, as were their Peugeot 206 hatchbacks. But when I got to southern Italy, I became absolutely smitten with the Integrale. Then I got robbed, met an Italian and stayed there for two years—but that’s another story altogether. After returning to the States I had the privilege of riding along with Prince Jean-Pierre Richielmi in his Integrale during a practice session for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
When I met Nikolay Kamenov at European Concours in Denver it was immediately after seeing his bright red HF. The Martini Racing logo on the rear spoiler stuck out like a little Italian ragazza holding an umbrella at an F1 race. With a little persuasion I might be able to get a little wheel time on the legendary car or at least find out how the hell you get one in the country.
It turns out that Mr. Kamenov, a resident of Vail, Colorado, bought the car from its original owner in Japan in 2009 and had it shipped to Canada. The minimum age of a car to be considered collectible there is 15 as opposed to 25 in the U.S.
“Then I drove the car into the States and the fun began,” Kamenov says. “After months of unsuccessfully trying to register the car I finally found the right guy in Florida who somehow managed to title the car in exchange for a hefty amount of cash.”
Somehow the vision of an ex-mobster in witness protection with a serious inside connect at the Florida DMV springs to my mind. He continues: “After that I only had to try a couple of DMVs in Colorado to get the title in my name. The only thing is that the car has to be registered in a county that does not require an emissions test since it was made without a catalytic converter.”
Kamenov, who is Hungarian, lives in Vail where an emissions test is not required. But he is not necessarily a man of outlandish means. “I’ve been in love with the car ever since I was eight years old when I saw it at a rally race,” he says. “I wasn’t going to stop trying [to own one] even if it meant I’d be in debt for the next five years.”
Apparently there are seven Delta Integrales here in the U.S. The others aren’t near the same spec as Kamenov’s EVO. And chances are they’re here on tourist visas. And while the goal of owning and driving an Integrale on American soil is one that we should all strive for, one aspect that isn’t so appealing is walking into your local NAPA after a spirited driving session then and asking, “Excuse me, do you have a helical gear for a Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione?”
Parts and mechanics could definitely be a challenge. Your local Fiat guy may be able to help you out with the basics. Either way, it still may not be deterrent to ownership, especially when you see what these Italian phenoms can do.
1993 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione
Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive
2.0-liter I4, dohc, 16-valve, turbocharged
Five-speed manual, center viscous couplers, Torsen rear differential
Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs and hydraulic dampers, antiroll bar (f), independent rear, double transverse arms, longitudinal arm coil springs and hydraulic dampers, antiroll bar (r)
Floating single-piston calipers, 284mm rotors (f), floating single-piston calipers, 227mm rotors (r)
Length/width/height (in.): 153.5/66.3/53.7
Wheelbase: 97.6 in.
Curb Weight: 2,778 lb
Peak Power: 200 hp @ 5750 rpm
Peak Torque: 224 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
0-62 mph: 5.7 sec.
Top Speed: 137 mph