But perhaps David’s best experience in the car was to be invited to display the Integrale along with other members of Club LanciaSport and Club quattro at the Sunseeker’s Rally in southern England a few years ago. After completing a demo lap around the stadium special stage, a convoy of Integrales and quattros made its way to a spectator stage, only to pass the rally competitors coming the other way. To his amazement, the rally crews were waving and giving thumbs up, delighted to see these rally icons on the road together!
Lancia Delta HF Integrale
Back in 1979, Ital Design produced a five-door hatchback called the Delta that was based on the Fiat Strada platform. In ’86, Group B
rally cars were banned, leading to the introduction of Group A regulations as the leading source of competition cars, for which Lancia produced a four-wheel-drive Delta. Called the Delta HF 4WD, it had permanent four-wheel drive, an eight-valve 1995cc engine and Garrett turbocharger, delivering 165hp. Lancia’s works rally team snatched both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ Group A rally world titles in its first year, which would be a sign of things to come…
In late ’87 the Delta HF Integrale was born. It wore an aggressive ‘pumped-up’ look with wrap-around bumpers, angular wheel arches for upsized tires, and enough air intakes and louvers to shame a fighter jet. The same four-cylinder engine was wound up to 185hp with a larger Garrett T3 turbo. It resulted in 0-62mph in 6.6sec and a top speed of 128mph – not bad for a hatchback.
In ’89, Lancia unveiled the HF Integrale 16v. Power was up to 200hp, and was immediately recognizable by the bulged hood. Then ’91 saw the Evoluzione I. The evolution models were permitted under Group A regulations, allowing series production modifications to be incorporated into a smaller number of cars than the original 5000. The Evo I got wider wheel arches for a wider front and rear track plus 210hp. This was the last homologation Delta used by the works team, but in June ’93 the Evoluzione II was introduced with 215hp and 0-60 in 5.7sec, but was never officially rallied by the factory.
With the Delta and Integrale, Lancia dominated the WRC, winning four drivers’ titles and six constructors’ titles in a row from ’87-92: a record that remains. A recent magazine poll named the Integrale the ‘Greatest Hot Hatchback of All Time’.
WRC: a brief history
Rallying gained its enormous popularity in Europe during the ’60s when factory-entered “works” teams became involved, along with their marketing departments. This saw the gradual end of the amateur era and is best remembered for the Mini Cooper S in the mid-60s.
Following the formation of the World Rally Championship in 1973, the Ferrari-powered mid-engined Lancia Stratos took the series by storm. In ’79, the FIA allowed four-wheel drive to join the party, and the face of rallying changed forever when the Audi quattro swept the ’80 season.
The FIA then divided rally entries into Group A and Group B classes in ’83, and things got deadly serious. Group B had almost no limit on technological innovation, so the factory teams built some truly awesome machines like the Audi S1 quattro and Peugeot 205 T16. As we now all know, Group B cars were soon quicker than F1 cars of their day, with the supercharged and turbo’ed Lancia Delta S4 being timed 0-62mph in under 3sec on gravel!
Unfortunately, several fatal accidents (including ace Henri Toivonen in his S4) meant Group B was banned. With only Group A cars allowed, the 165hp Lancia Delta 4WD became the ideal package, winning the WRC title before being replaced by the HF Integrale in ’87 that continued the silverware collection.
Through constant development, the Delta in its various guises dominated WRC from ’87-92 winning four drivers’ titles and six consecutive constructors’ titles. History has proved the Integrale to be the Holy ‘Grale of rallying.
Lancia Delta Integrale Specialists
Auto Integrale, UK (auto-integrale.co.uk)
Zagato Lancia, UK (lancia.org.uk)
John Whalley, UK (whalley-integrale.uk.com)
Walkers Garage, UK (tecno2.co.uk)
Tanc Barratt, UK (tancbarratt.co.uk)
Richard Thorne Classic Cars, UK (rtcc.co.uk)
HF Il Cavalino, Italy (arcesezone.it)