Rare Rides: A Lancia Delta HF Integrale From 1990 (Part I)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a lancia delta hf integrale from 1990 part i

Today’s Lancia is one of the company’s final unique product offerings. In the finest tradition of creating a sleeper, the good people at Lancia took their practical Delta hatchback to new planes of existence. Presenting the 1990 Lancia Delta HF Integrale.

The Delta started out as Lancia’s small family car offering. More affordable than the Beta, it also was available only in five-door hatchback guise. When it entered development in the mid Seventies, there was already a small, family car-shaped hole in Lancia’s lineup (the company lacked such an offering ever since the Fulvia Berlina bowed out in 1973). The Italians turned, suitably, to Italdesign to pen the shape of the Delta, tasking legend Giorgetto Giugiaro with its creation.

Built with handling in mind from the get-go, the Delta was fitted with a MacPherson suspension setup. It borrowed the basic engines from Fiat’s Ritmo, but Lancia’s engineers made some revisions. In order to fit with the more upscale Lancia image, carburetors were revised, the exhaust system and ignition were changed, and there was a new intake manifold. Engineering refinements combined with things like an adjustable steering wheel, split folding rear seats, and optional air conditioning to make the Delta feel more like a sophisticated Lancia and less like a Fiat.

Meanwhile, Saab assisted Lancia in the development of the heating and ventilation system, and while they were at it imparted their expertise in rustproofing. Saab, which had an interest in the Delta from the start, is credited with several improvements to the hatchback’s overall design.

Delta was not ready for production until 1979, when it debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Its initial offering saw three models, none of which were exciting: Base and mid-level versions used a 1.3-liter inline four of 74 horsepower, while a top-trim 1.5-liter version managed 84 horses. The Swedish market received the Delta after Saab assisted in its development, but could not go without a properly Swedish name on the rear. Thus, the Saab-Lancia 600 was sold only within Sweden.

The motoring press was delighted, immediately granting the Delta a European Car of The Year award in 1980. A very important model for the small company, the Delta was revised and improved almost immediately. First up were additions like trim varieties and an automatic transmission, followed by much more substantial… evolutions.

In Part II we’ll see how a very common family hatchback was transformed into something very special.

[Images: seller]

Join the conversation
6 of 21 comments
  • SilverCoupe SilverCoupe on Oct 23, 2019

    Well, its clearly a Giugiaro. This is from 1990? It looks like an upright four-door version of the 1975 Scirocco I had, with fender flairs from an Audi Quattro of that era, not that that's a bad thing.

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Oct 23, 2019

      It put me in mind of a thought: What if BMW made an M3 5-door in 1988? It'd be this.

  • Slavuta Slavuta on Oct 23, 2019

    Is something going on? It is 4th review/tv show, etc in the last 2 weeks on this car. Doug Demuro did it as well. I now want to buy it! This is cool.

    • See 2 previous
    • Trackratmk1 Trackratmk1 on Oct 25, 2019

      @Corey Lewis There is something going on. I looked into this car and the seller has had it over a year. It’s on his YT channel. Why just start promoting it now? There’s a lot of weird things that go back to this seller. Including him starting a “humble” dealership at 27y/o with a Porsche 959 and importing some Lancias from Italy on a whim. Petrolicious featured him last year but I don’t buy this ‘hard work brings good fortune’ bit that is common with all the Youtubers showing off their cars and looking for attention.

  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down. https://academic.oup.com/dh/article-abstract/42/4/548/5063004
  • Bobby D'Oppo Great sound and smooth power delivery in a heavier RWD or AWD vehicle is a nice blend, but current V8 pickup trucks deliver an unsophisticated driving experience. I think a modern full-size pickup could be very well suited to a manual transmission.In reality, old school, revvy atmo engines pair best with manual transmissions because it's so rewarding to keep them in the power band on a winding road. Modern turbo engines have flattened the torque curve and often make changing gears feel more like a chore.
  • Chuck Norton For those worried about a complex power train-What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro processors...in today's vehicles?
  • Ravenuer The Long Island Expressway.
  • Kwik_Shift A nice stretch of fairly remote road that would be great for test driving a car's potential, rally style, is Flinton Road off of Highway 41 in Ontario. Twists/turns/dips/rises. Just hope a deer doesn't jump out at you. Also Highway 60 through Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Great scenery with lots of hills.