Why you’d want a Lancia Delta Integrale
When the four-wheel-drive Group A homologation Delta HF 4WD was introduced in 1986, there was little to distinguish it from regular Deltas other than the twin bonnet-mounted air scoops. This was a compact, four-door shopping car, with huge fun potential.
Lancia did the job properly, with sophisticated equipment such as the Torsen rear differential that, at the time, was F1 technology. As the car was developed, its looks became much more aggressive (and dated), but that performance and handling package was so alluring, who cared what it looked like?
Its results in the World Rally Championship say it all: the HF Turbo 4WD won in 1987 (GpA and GpN), the Integrale in 1988, the 16v in ’89, ’90 and ’91, the Evo in ’92. Lancia’s six manufacturers’ titles on the trot remains a record.
The car’s nature as a homologation special (albeit one built in far greater quantities than regulations required) meant that there were frequent spec changes, but that doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with the product in its earlier incarnations.
All are superb driving machines that are guaranteed to bring a grin to the face of any red-blooded driver – and the fuel consumption, though on the high side when driven hard, was no worse than period rivals.
Always left-hand drive – there were RHD conversions, but most had undesirably low-geared steering – they sold in small numbers in the UK. Most were brought in from Europe, though the best imports now come from Japan. Beware Swiss pre-Evo IIs, which had catalysed eight-valve engines. In recent years, the import trend has reversed, because continental values have hardened and many are going back.
Modifications are a big issue: the best advice is to find a standard car. Their values are definitely stronger, but it is hard to track down stock earlier examples. If you really want to win on track days, go for one that has been done properly and hasn’t been abused. Every tweak has a knock-on effect, overstressing the next component in line – and if that’s something critical such as a cambelt (or the body), you could be lining up for some serious damage, and bills.
Check the shell thoroughly for crash damage (chassis legs underneath, front panel, roof) as well as for cracks and rust. Above all, though, look for a cherished car with a full service history from a reputable specialist. Then go out and use it: they don’t like sitting idle!
Images: Tony Baker
Lancia Delta Integrale: what to look for
See above for trouble spots
Check engine oil level and for leaks; pressure should be 1bar at tickover when hot on a 16v unit, or slightly lower for an 8v. Listen for big-end clatter; weak performance may be worn cam lobes and could mean a full rebuild. Cambelt must be replaced every 24,000 miles on 16v, less if little-used; 36,000 miles on 8v.
Many owners modify, but lower and/or stiffer suspension overstresses shell for road use. Bushes suffer, notably the Evo’s rose-jointed anti-roll bar links.
Abused ’boxes lose synchro on second and third and may strip teeth if fed too much power; 16v gearbox gave extra rear bias, and takes more of a pounding.
Several wheel spec changes took place, notably from four- to five-stud fixings on Evos, so they’re not easily swapped. Check for kerbing and uneven tyre wear.
At first, Lancia put only 44% of the power to the Torsen rear diff; later it took 53% and is still bombproof as long as the unit doesn’t run dry.
Superb Recaro seats were fitted on all models, with a range of Alcantara trim materials on most; worn bolsters are common but can usually be retrimmed.
Check that instruments and switchgear work: poor earths are often at fault, but senders for some components are now NLA, inc low engine oil and Evo speedo.
Lancia Delta Integrale: on the road
An Integrale is a precision instrument that must be maintained properly. On the road, it should feel taut, responsive and fast, but safe. Check that modded cars have been done properly: for example, high-lift cams will knock out a 16v cambelt in 20,000 miles or less, so fit a wide-belt kit from deltaparts.co.uk.
Correct tensioning is vital – a slack belt will do more damage if it jumps than a tight one breaking. Overboosting will blow the head gasket if a competition one is not fitted.
White smoke indicates a tired turbo and oil leaks, clattering and poor performance a worn engine. Motors consume c0.5litre oil/1000 miles and, if not topped up, can seize the turbo and wreck engine bearings.
Fully synthetic 10w40 oil, or 10w60 for worn units and track days, is vital. A roughness may indicate incorrect timing, or that balancer shafts have been disconnected or removed. Their bearings wear and are NLA, making a proper repair costly. “It’s perfectly OK without them,” says Deltaparts’ Martin Crabtree.
Gearboxes and diffs cope with the standard spec, though excess power can strip teeth in the ’box; 16v gearboxes have a tendency for the diff pins to come loose and destroy the crownwheel, so listen for nasty noises. A clutch change is a major job: budget at least £500 if it’s slipping.
Rattles and clonks indicate worn suspension bushes: uprating the springs and dampers really requires a rollcage, or a full set of shell stiffening panels, otherwise it will hasten the body cracking and losing its integrity. The brakes should be well up to the job in standard form: if not, the calipers or the rear compensator may be sticking.
Lancia Delta Integrale price guide
Show/rebuilt Evo £60,000+
Average Evo £35-60,000
Average 16v/8v £30,000/£20,000
Lancia Delta Integrale history
1979 Giugiaro-styled Delta hatchback launched
1986 May: HF 4WD, with 8v engine (5298 built)
1987 Nov: HF Integrale, 185bhp, 224lb ft, larger turbo, improved cooling, extended arches, perforated bonnet (no scoops); 9841 made
1989 Apr: 16v, 200bhp, 47:53 torque split, bulged bonnet, revised suspension and ’box, 1in lower ride height, 0-60mph in 5.8 secs, 134mph, optional ABS and sunroof (12,860 produced)
1991 Nov: Evo, 210bhp, 2in wider track, stiffer suspension, uprated brakes, front strut brace, bigger arches/bulge, adjustable rear spoiler
1992 Jan: ‘5’ Special Edition trim option, 400 built; Nov: ‘6’ SE trim offered (310 produced)
1993 Evo II: catalysed exhaust, water-cooled turbo, air-con, 16in alloys, vents on front arches
1994 Nov: production ends. Specials inc Final Edition: black Recaros, push-button start (250)
The owner’s view
“My Evo II was 11 years old with 123,000km when I bought it – now it’s 19 years old with 156,000km and it’s worth more than I paid for it!” remarks owner Steve Pilgrim. “I’ve had some big bills, one when the clutch seized because I made the mistake of not using it all winter, another for a full suspension rebuild with new bushes and dampers, but it’s garaged and looked after, so the car hasn’t needed a lot of welding or any major components.
“I’ve kept it original and just love driving it – there really is something magical about them. With values now, though, I’m scared to park it where it might get damaged, but apart from that – and the fact that I get 25mpg driving sensibly – it’s still a very usable five-door hatchback.”
The bulky quattro was at a disadvantage against the nimble Delta, but fought back with the 2.2 ‘five’ and then the superb twin-cam 220bhp 20-valve, but build numbers were tiny against the Lancia. Becoming very collectable.
Sold 1987-’91 • No. built 11,452 • Mpg 18-25 • 0-60mph 6.3 secs • Top speed 135-141mph • Price new £34,995 (1990) • Price now £25,000+
TOYOTA CELICA GT-FOUR ST165/185
Aerodynamics gave the Celica a higher top speed and it was more refined with better cornering on tarmac, but it was much dearer and lagged behind the Delta as a driving machine. A bargain, if you can find one.
Sold 1986-’93 • No built 26,350 • Mpg 22-32 • 0-60mph 7.5 secs • Top speed 136-140mph • Price new £24,777 • (1992) • Price now £5000+
Lancia Delta Integrale: the Classic & Sports Car verdict
With a complex, often thrashed and crashed homologation special, the adage ‘Buy the best, forget the rest’ is more appropriate than ever – and it’s far more important than finding a particular Special Edition.
Look for cherished cars with full history, lots of bills and evidence of regular, sympathetic use – and check that the condition really does match the history.
- Quickest and most rewarding back-road driver’s car of its day
- Still stunningly fast and fun cross-country
- Practical family classic
- Appreciating value
- Parts availability poor
- Many abused examples
- Complex and expensive to put right
Lancia Delta Integrale specifications
- Sold/number built 1986-’94/44,296
- Construction steel monocoque
- Engine transverse, iron-block, alloy-head dohc 8/16-valve 1995cc ‘four’, with Weber electronic injection, Garrett T3 turbo with intercooler; 165bhp @ 5250rpm-215bhp @ 5750rpm; 210lb ft @ 2750rpm-231lb ft @ 2500rpm
- Transmission five-speed manual, driving all four wheels via Ferguson epicyclic centre differential and Torsen rear diff
- Suspension: front MacPherson struts rear MacPherson struts, transverse and longitudinal links; anti-roll bar f/r
- Steering power-assisted rack and pinion, 2.8 turns l-l Brakes diagonally split discs, f 10.1in (257mm) vented, r 8.9in (226mm), with servo
- Length 12ft 9in (3886mm)
- Width 5ft 4in-5ft 10in (1626-1778mm)
- Height 4ft 6in-4ft 5in (1372-1346mm)
- Wheelbase 8ft 1in (2464mm)
- Weight 2740lb (1243kg)
- Mpg 18-26
- 0-60mph 6.6-5.7 secs
- Top speed 127-135mph
- Price new £23,249 (1992)