Once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a car that won the Monte-Carlo Rally. This is the car that won the 1989 Monte-Carlo Rally with Biasion - Silvero. Subsequently it stayed in France with the Bruno... View car
With a sporting pedigree that its rivals could only dream of, the Lancia Delta Integrale 16v enjoys a racy reputation.
Launched in 1979, the original Lancia Delta marked the beginning of a change in fortunes for the Turin marque. On the face of it, you’d have been forgiven for dismissing the new model as nothing more than a run-of-the-mill family hatchback. It was so much more than that, though. The Delta was a generational quantum leap, both in its overall design and in its technical and aesthetic qualities.
Legendary designer Giorgetto Giugaro turned out a modern take on two-box design thinking, with a strongly geometrical shape in which trapezium forms figured heavily. This concept proved hugely advantageous in terms of compactness and habitability, offering impressive amounts of interior space in what wasn’t a particularly big car. With modern mechanicals, a classic front-drive/transverse engine set-up and all-round independent suspension, the Delta made a name for itself from the outset – so much so that it was crowned European Car of the Year in 1980.
Things got a whole lot more interesting in 1982, when a four-wheel drive prototype was exhibited at that year’s Turin Motor Show, followed by a limited run of 200 Delta S4 models in 1985. In 1986, the Delta HF 4WD production model hit the showrooms, proving an instant hit with performance-hungry buyers. Powered by a supercharged version of the 2-litre engine employed in the Lancia Thema, it pumped out 165bhp. With that kind of potential on tap, it was only a matter of time before the all-wheel drive Delta, or ‘integrali’, was to be used as a competition tool and, in 1987, the car began its period of dominance on the world rally scene. It ran away with the World Constructors Championship six years in a row between 1987 and 1992, racking up 46 outright victories, before bowing out after the 1992 Rally Sanremo.
Unveiled in 1989, the Delta Integrale 16v was ‘just’ another step up the evolutionary ladder, boasting 200bhp against the previous peak of 185bhp. More than two decades later, its reputation as a legendary driving machine is assured. Time to find out why it’s so good.
Climbing inside the Delta, its potential to scare the pants off you isn’t immediately apparent. For instance, the light and airy cabin is almost family-friendly in appearance. Even the optional Recaro seats don’t give things away. They are extremely comfortable, with an impressive range of adjustment, meaning you’re able to settle on just the right driving position.
But once you have settled behind the height adjustable steering wheel, your eyes are immediately drawn to the impressive array of analogue instruments in front of you, aggressive with black quadrants and yellow figures, with more than a whiff of the aeronautical about them. This is a car that suggests speed. After firing up the beast, the exhaust note isn’t particularly invasive, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. This definitely isn’t the school run machine it first appears.
The Delta engine’s exuberant power output means that even without particularly remarkable aerodynamics, a top speed in excess of 130mph is achievable, though not on the public highway of course. The 2-litre turbo lump offers great hunks of torque as low down as 2000rpm, with plenty of positive response even when the turbo hasn’t fully spooled up, which doesn’t take long. Plant your foot in second gear, wait half a second, then bang! You’re instantly pinned back into your seat, an intuitive sensation that only increases as you find your way up through the close ratio gearbox, with genuinely thrilling performance all the way up to the redline.
Impressive as the Delta’s mechanicals are, the quality of its chassis is what really makes you sit up and take notice. The ride is necessarily firm, but not uncomfortably so, while the steering is never less than precise and offers exceptional control over wheel reaction. The presence of a Torsen self-locking differential means the rear wheels can fully exploit the share of torque they receive from the central torque-splitting differential, while the torque destined for the front wheels allows for spine-tingling acceleration without excessive oversteer.
The Delta has margins of control that result in an awe-inspiring driving experience, in a way that make it easily accessible to almost any motorist. This alone probably goes towards explaining its continued reputation amongst marque aficionados – it really is a thoroughbred racer which can just as easily be used on a daily basis.
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