March 18, 2013 - The Lancia Delta Integrale: this is the car that buried the Audi Quattro, both in the World Rally Championship and on the road. Of all the hormonally-engineered mainstream metal lumped under the ‘affordable supercar’ heading, the Lancia was the most super of its generation.
Usual Modenese suspects apart, there aren’t many Italian cars that command more respect than the holy ’Grale. But the lumpy little Lancia was a hero to thousands, a genuine slayer of giants. Imagine it, a car that cost the same as a junior executive saloon that would run down a Porsche 911 on a demanding road.
Even by modern standards, it doesn’t seem to matter how extreme you get with a ’Grale Evo, how ludicrous the liberties you take on the edge of adhesion, it always seems to have a few tricks in reserve that will pull you through. Driving one is an education. Accelerate hard on the turn and it finds acceleration where lesser cars find wheelspin or a close encounter with the hedge on the other side of the road. There may be faster cars in a straight line, ones that can pull more lateral g on smooth, dry tarmac. But very few dispatch real roads and uncertain conditions with such confidence. The harder you drive the Lancia, the better it gets.
May 1986 -Birth of the Delta HF 4WD, a sports model with permanent four wheel drive: 1995 cc engine with turbocharger and overboost, delivering 165 bhp. The transmission system featured an epicyclic centre diff and torque splitter with a limited slip Ferguson viscous coupling and a Torsen rear diff.
November 1987 - Launch of the HF Integrale, a natural development of the 4WD. The new model was given a more aggressive look to highlight it's sporting personality. It retained the 1995 cc turbo engine with intercooler and overboost, twin counter-rotating balancer shafts, integrated electronic ignition injection management system with knock sensor. The power output rose to 185 bhp-DINS and the performance to unparalleled heights: 0-100 Klm/h in 6.6 seconds, top speed 215 Klm/h.
May 1989 -Launch of an even more powerful and sophisticated version: the HF Integrale 16v and even better performance from the engine with its four valves per cylinder: 200 bhp-DIN, 0-100 Klm/h in 5.7 seconds, top speed 220 Klm/h. Numerous changes to the mechanicals: hydraulic clutch, torque split mostly to the rear (for the first time), an uprated braking system with ABS, wider tyres and wheels.
October 1991 -Debut of a new phase in the career of the HF Integrale :
Evolution. Wider wheel arches because of the wider tracks. New front suspension and several improvements to the rear suspension as well. More robust braking system and steering box. The power output was up to 210 bhp and performance achieved a major leap forward in terms of driveability, roadholding and active safety.
January 1992 - To celebrate its victory in the 1991 World Rally Constructors' Championship, Lancia launched a special series of 400 Delta HF Integrale the '5' cars. The mechanicals were unchanged but the '5' was distinguished by personalised bodywork, white wheel rims, the Martini-Racing colours adorning the sides, the black bonnet grilles and the black spoiler on the back. Inside: special Recaro seats, black Alcantara upholstery with red stitching and red seat belts. Each car in this series was numbered on a silver plate on the transmission console.
November 1992 - Sixth consecutive World Rally title for the Delta W Integrale. To celebrate its 1992 victory, Lancia again launched a new special series of 310 cars. The Lancia Delta HF Integrale '6' featured white paintwork with a Martini-Racing strip along the sides. Inside, the seats were again Recaro but the red-stitched Alcantara upholstery was turquoise, with the HF logo on the head restraints. Here too, each car had a number which appeared on the aluminium plate on the transmission console.
June 1993 - Debut of the catalysed Delta HF Integrale 16v (Evolution II) with power output raised to 215 bhp. This was to be the last of the range with a number of Special Edition cars to celebrate the success of the vehicle; Gialla, Blue Lagos, Pearl White, Dealer Edition and the Final Edition. Production ceased in November 1994 and the series thus became finite.
The Sales Success Story
The Delta HF Integrale is as much a winner in world markets as it is on the rally circuit. Backed by the prestige of six world rally titles as well as the elite image of a make with Lancia's long tradition of excellence, the Integrale regularly topped the sales charts for performance 4X4 cars.
Sales volumes have always been impressive since the launch of the original Delta 4WD in 1986 which sold 1,566 units worldwide in that first year.
In 1987 the figure rose to 4,339 units with nearly half (2,035 units) being exported. And it didn't take the Delta 4WD long to crash through the 5,000 unit barrier required for Group A homologation.
In the next three seasons, 1988, 1989 and 1990, rallying was dominated by the two subsequent versions, the HF Integrale 8V and the HF Integrale 16V. Lancia had to build 10,000 units for homologation.
In the event, the company did very much better than that. In 1988 7,509 units were sold, over half of them(4,085) on the export market. The 16V appeared towards the end of 1989 and Lancia sold 7,967 Delta's, 4,785 of them in foreign markets. Again in 1990 sales topped the, 7,000 mark (7,054 units, 3,696 of them outside Italy). In all over 22,500 8 and 16 valve cars had been sold, many more than the 10,000 units required.
After a rather quieter 1991, 4,646 units sold, 2,576 of them in the home market, the Delta HF Integrale bounced back in 1992. With new engineering and an exciting new look that rocketed sales back to earlier levels: 6,992 units, including 4,952 sold in Italy. Yet again, it was more than enough for rally homologation, and it raised the total of units sold since the version was launched to 40,073. The final model of the car sold 1,996 in 1993 and a further 2,227 in 1994, of these 1,941 cars were sold on the home market of Italy. On the export side, the biggest Delta fans in all these years were Germany and Switzerland, followed by France, Spain, Britain and Japan.
Total sales of all versions of the Integrales came to 44,296.
Records show the following production totals for the "Limited Edition" models:
The HF Symbol of Lancia Competition Cars
The HF symbol, the contraction of High Fidelity, owes its origin to the Lancia Hi. Fi. Club, which draws its members from loyal Lancia clients according to strict rules of elegibility which govern membership. The Club was founded in 1960 and the HF was taken as its logo.
The transposition of the Initials H and F on certain sports cars followed in 1961, when customers started to race Flaminia Pinina Farina in Grand Turismo events.
The "consecration" came with the launch of the legendary Lancia Fulvia coupe, and it became the official logo of the Company's sports cars, starting with the 1966 Fulvia HF coupe which remained almost unbeatable on the world rallies, until the mythical Lancia Stratos appeared on the scene to dominate rallying from 1974 - 1978.
In the mean time the HF Racing Team had been founded in 1963, initially as a simple association of amateur drivers unofficially backed by Lancia, but becoming the official sporting branch of the Company in 1965.
The HF symbol was adopted again in 1983 for the Delta turbo and thereafter on the Delta 4WD and the Integrale. With the introduction of the Evolution model of the Integrale, the letters were combined with the galloping red elephant. The elephants had been on the original badges for the Fulvia HF and the Stratos, at that time there were four elephants displayed.
There are contrasting stories and legends regarding the origin of this elephant, including the simple "the elephant never forgets". We do know that in 1953 the then Managing Director of Lancia, Gianni Lancia, chose it as a good luck token for the Company's first racing appearances. The symbol of the galloping elephant apparently originates in Eastern mythology as an auspicious emblem or symbol of victory, providing the trunk is stretched forward. This is how the elephant chosen by Gianni Lancia was drawn, first in light blue and later as now in bright red.