Lancia Delta Integrale Review - Toybox

By: John Bowe with Guy Allen, Photography by: Alastair Brook

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If ever there was a car that could punch well above its weight, it's Lancia's rally-bred Delta Integrale Evoluzione

This may be the very definition of a unique car and certainly sits close to the top of the desirability scale for any dedicated rally fan. It’s a 1991 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione 1, which means it’s a road-legal homologation version of Lancia’s final generation of great competition cars.

You don’t have to look too far to discover that Lancia was once the pre-eminent name in world rally. The list of manufacturer titles goes into the double figures and it was the maker to be reckoned with in the infamous Group B days. That was when the cars weighed around 900 kilos and were putting out an astonishing 700 horsepower.

lancia-delta-integrale-2.jpg

Inevitably the rules changed as the cars became too fast and the casualties among both competitors and spectators became impossible to sustain. Instead the regulations turned to a formula that was much closer to the road cars you and I could buy, though we’re still talking four-wheel-drive and turbocharged engines.

| Read next: 1972 Lancia Stratos review

For Lancia, this meant turning to the existing Delta platform and making it a winner. In many respects you could regard it as a fore-runner to the Subaru WRX and its competitors, such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo series.

lancia-delta-integrale-rear.jpgLancia’s family hatch sprouted big flares for fat rally tyres

Getting back to this car, what Lancia did was take its hatchback and gradually turn it into a fire-breather – particularly compared to what else was available in the market at the time. So, in 1991 you got a 16-valve four-cylinder engine, with turbo, claiming an impressive 210 horses (157kW) and driving all four paws through a five-speed transmission.

As you might expect this ultimate version of the road car looked much more muscular than the family hatches it came from, with lots of flares and bumps in the bodywork. It was also running a very different stance, a very upmarket cabin, and big (for the time) 17-inch wheels.

lancia-delta-integrale-wheel.jpgSpiderweb like alloy wheels and low profile hoops for grip and go

They were built in left-hand-drive and only for a brief period through 1991 and 1992. In fact, they were always a rare car, more so in Australia.

There is a great local connection. Three-time Australian rally champion Greg Carr used a predecessor to this to win his final title in 1989.

lancia-delta-integrale-engine-2.jpgHi-tech turbo four has grunt galore

This example is from Dutton Garage in Melbourne and is part of their huge collection, which is like a lolly shop for adults. It’s in very good condition, particularly for its age.

The Lancia is firm to drive and has very communicative steering. I’m not going to flog someone else’s performance car on the street, but it definitely qualifies as something different and there’s no question it was a very quick car for its time. Even now, it has plenty of power to keep you entertained. When you go somewhere with it, most people don’t know what it is, but petrol-heads do and they go all weak at the knees. If you get that whole oddball European thing, you’ll love it.

lancia-delta-integrale-dash-2.jpgComfy cockpit with lots of dials to keep you in touch with its performance

LANCIA DELTA INTEGRALE

BODY: 5dr hatch
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine
POWER/TORQUE: 157kW/304Nm
PERFORMANCE
0-100KM/H: 6.1secs
TOP SPEED: 221km/h
TRANSMISSION: 5-sp Man
BRAKES: Discs F & R
PRICE: $120,000

 

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