The Group A Lancia Delta Integrale could have been the marketing team’s worst nightmare: slower than its rallying predecessor, and based on a seven-year-old shopping car that was close to pensionable. But the people behind its creation had been responsible for such icons as the Stratos, 037 and Delta S4, all amazing rallying machines and delectable road cars. And so the roadgoing Delta Integrale matched its chunky, square-edged styling with a fistful of competition-bred brio, and did it all for a bargain price compared with its closest rival, the Audi Quattro.
Between 1987 and 1992, the Integrale utterly dominated its branch of motor sport, winning 46 rallies and six constructors’ championships outright. And to keep the rally car at the sharp end of the results table, the road car went through a number of iterations, each more potent than the last.
As a road car, the Integrale is a truly joyful experience. Although it was only offered in left-hand drive form it was quite a success in the UK. Just like on the rally stages, its big rivalry in the early days came in the form of the Audi quattro. Although the German competitor was significantly more expensive to buy, the Delta was smaller, quicker and much lighter on its feet. The Integrale is a true drivers’ machine, and delivers a huge amount of feel and feedback that makes them irresistible.
Steve Smith - Former rally driver turned specialist on why you’ll want one
I bought my first Delta for rallying before becoming a dealer in 1988. I bought an HF and prepared it for Group N rallying, and went to town with the preparation, including body strengthening. The end result was the most successful and reliable rally car I ever had.
In 1990, the end of the second year of competing in a Delta in motorsport, we were competing in the RAC Rally. Throughout the event we were running first in the privateer class. We ended up finishing 20th overall, first in Group N. From there, the phone started ringing, and I ended up running and preparing a number of Integrales with great success. Since then we’ve become a manufacturer of our own parts for these cars and we’re now the biggest specialist in the UK, possibly the world.
Our customers range from those wanting totally standard, original, immaculate cars – and limited editions sell from £40,000, even £70,000 for the really special ones. Not so many use them for competition these days. And while any Evo you’d be happy to own will cost from £15,000, even £30,000 for a good Evo 2, usable 8-valves start at £4000 – not many people want those; workaday 16-valves start around £6000. Obviously there are bad examples out there, and the old ones can be manky – especially with corrosion – but nothing that can’t be sorted with time, patience and money.
Some customers have the impression that Integrales cost a fortune to run. But if you buy a good car, they all just have four spark plugs, brakes and parts like any other cars, and replacements aren’t expensive. They only cost a lot if you buy badly. Deltas are no worse than any other cars. They’re getting old, and they’re not as bad as people say.
Lancia Integrale corrosion checkpoints
There are problems potential owners need to be well aware of, many of which are unique to the Integrale. The rear crossmember, for instance, is one of those peculiar items – on the Evo 2 it was strengthened by double-skinning. But water gets in, meaning the later crossmembers corroded more than the early ones. People are making replacement panels now, which makes things a little bit better.
Some are rusty, and some aren’t. I picked up a 1988 8-valve, and it’s spot-on – amazing. But the secret to maintaining a rot-free Delta is to keep it garaged regardless of the weather, as condensation builds up in the box sections, setting it off rusting from inside.
And what I see is lots of people, when going to see a car, putting too much emphasis on the number of stamps in the service book, regardless of condition. My advice is simple: go with your eyes open. You can do anything mechanically, but if you don’t have a good body to start with, you’re in trouble. Check for holes around the windscreen – if there are bubbles, it needs proper renovation by removing the screeen. The back of the roof also needs looking at – the tailgate has a piece of rubber that stops water running in when the hatch is opened. It rubs, removes the paint, and causes corrosion. Most cars have had some paintwork done now in that area.
You need to look in the wheelarches, especially around the rear. There can be lots of corrosion hidden from view. The panel behind the rear bumper can be bad, and the slam panel beneath the tailgate can corrode. The edges of the floor around the jacking points and the sills are often not nice, and the front corners of the chassis rails can be rust hot-spots.
As well as general rot, you hear about the bodyshell cracking. The later cars seem to be worse, and the section near the top of the A-post where it meets the roof rail can soon reveal cracks. Another area is in the footwell – here they just crack instead of rusting. This can also happen around the handbrake area as well. Fitting ultra-hard springs and dampers won’t do the car any favours, putting additional stresses through the shell.
Lancia Integrale engine problems
Standard engines that have never been tuned are bulletproof. We had a lot of cambelt failures a long time ago – early 16-valves used the 8-valve cambelts, and they could break at just 12,000 miles. All the cars are on modified belts now, and the service interval for this is 60,000 miles according to Lancia, but we say half that. All in, it’s £350-400.
Due to the ease of upping the boost pressure to free up a bit more power, tuned Integrales are not uncommon. In most cases, if done correctly to safe levels, there isn’t much to worry about but caution is always advised when buying. Generally the earlier 8 valve engine is stronger, and is actually a safer bet when tuning, although these are now among the rarest Integrales.
The transmission is strong too. We’ve seen all elements of it break – if you have 400-500bhp, you can break anything. But I did three years of motor sport with standard transmission and never had a problem. It’s all down to the driver – and every car has had several owners now.
How about the transmission?
The Integrale appeal
For me, it’s the motor sport aspect that makes the Integrale so special. I’d been rallying for some years before it with Escort BDAs. I wanted something different. At the start of special stages, spectators loved the Delta. They would stop and look. You get such a buzz from owning and driving one; even now, people come up to you and want to talk about Deltas, saying how wonderful they are. When the cars were new we didn’t appreciate just how good they were – they cost £25,000 at the end. When they stopped making it I ordered ten on spec, as they were the last ones. They are just special.
Lancia Delta Integrale timeline
1986: Delta HF Turbo 4WD is introduced, with Thema’s 2-litre twin-cam ‘four’ and Garrett T2.5 water-cooled turbo. 165bhp on tap, along with 210lb ft of torque. Torque split is biased 56:44 front:rear while top speed is 130mph. 0-60mph in 6.6 seconds; 5298 built.
1988: Integrale arrives, with boxy wheelarches housing bigger wheels and brakes. T3 turbo is bigger, as is the intercooler, so there are now bonnet louvres for extra cooling. With 185bhp and 224lb ft of torque, it’ll do 135mph and 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds. 9841 made.
1989: Now 16 valves and car sits closer to ground. ABS is optional and torque split is now 47:53 front:rear. Power is 200bhp, top speed 137mph and 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds. 12,860 produced.
1991: Evo 1 launched, with even bigger ’arches and wider track. There are also stronger brakes with ABS, and rear wing is adjustable. 210bhp but performance is same as previous 16-valve model.
1992: Special series of 400 with white wheel rims, Martini Racing colours along sides, black bonnet grilles and a black rear spoiler. Inside are Recaro seats, black Alcantara upholstery with red stitching, and red seat belts. Each car has a numbered silver plate on its centre console. Later that year comes another series of 310 special editions, in white with a Martini Racing strip along sides. They have Alcantara Recaro seats with red stitching, and HF logo on head restraints.
1993: Final derivative goes on sale: Evoluzione 2. Wheels are now 16in, tyres are wider and air-con is standard. Turbo is smaller to reduce lag while power rises to 215bhp. Number of Special Edition cars made to celebrate Integrale’s success: Giallo, Blue Lagos, Pearl White, Dealer Edition and Final Edition.
Lancia Delta Integrale special editions
There were many different special edition versions of the Integrale Evo throughout its life. Here’s a list of them all.
Club Italia – Based on the Evo 1, just 15 were built for members of Club Italia. Although all cars differ in slight detail, the cam covers are painted in Blue and yellow – like the famous Fanalone Fulvias
Hi Fi – Built for members of Lancia’s HiFi Club, existing to serve people who had bought a minimum of seven new Lancia models. 25 built
– Painted in a shade of Candy Red, a GM colour, unique options incude a push-button start and passenger foot brace. 179 were built, each with a numbered plaque
Martini 5 – Evo 1-based special, built to celebrate the Integrale’s fifth consecutive World Rally Championship. It’s marked out by white paint, Martini stripes, and Black Alcantara with red stitching and red seatbelts. 400 built
Gialla Ginestra – These yellow Evo 2 models featured air conditioning and a black Alcantara interior. 515 built
Lancia Club – A mix of blue and red cars built for members of the Lancia Club. Just 8 built
Verde York - Special dark green paint and beige leather interior. 580 Evo 1 models built, with an extra 22 Evo 2 models produced in 1994
Bianca Perlata – Painted Pearl white, with a thin grey coachline. 370 built
Blu Lagos – A special new colour along with a thin yellow stripe along the flank. 205 produced
Martini 6 – Special edition Martini-striped edition car to commemorate the car’s sixth (and final) World Rally Championship win. 310 built
Final Edition – This run of red cars with a stripe running down the centre of the car was among the final batch of cars to leave the factory. Upgrades include a rear strut brace. 250 built in total