One of Lancia’s most successful products was the Delta. It was produced from 1979 to 1994 for many different road and track applications. The car debuted at the Frankfurt motor show as a Giorgio Guigaro design. Surprisingly, this Delta would lead Lancia into its most successful rally program. But still lacked the sparkle to revive Lancia’s dynamic image dated back to the years of Fulvia and Stratos.

Given the strength of its reputation and the many iterations available, its easy to forget that the Delta HF Integrale was only on sale for six years. Six world titles in rallying producers gained in a row. It’s just part of the achievements of one of the most popular car in automotive history . The Delta HF Integrale is one of the most evocative names in modern motorsport.

Lancia’s first 4wd road car was produced way back in 1982, when a prototype 4wd Delta Turbo was displayed at the Turin Motor Show. It was considered by many to be a rather unnecessary gimmick of a car, although everyone who drove the prototype raved about it. It wasn’t put into production for another four years, however, when the ultra-light and super-powerful Group B cars were banned from world rallying. Things changed suddenly in 1986. Lancia’s WRC campaign came to a turning point when Henri Toivonen crashed and died in his Delta S4. Fearing Group B cars for too fast and powerful, the motorsport governing body decided to terminate Group B at the end of that season. From 1987, WRC would be run with Group A cars. This opened the door for Lancia’s Group A Delta HF 4WD rally car and its homologation equivalent for the road.

Due to Group A regulations, the race car was allowed very little margins of modification. As such the road going Integrales had to be packed with the same cutting-edge technology found in the Group A cars.

For the 1987 rally season, Abarth prepared a version of this car, the Delta HF 4WD, for rally racing. It was much more civilized than S4, having production based aerodynamics and construction materials, but featured a potent four wheel drive system. With the Delta HF 4WD, Lancia captured the 1987 manufacturer’s title with Juha Kankkunen taking the driver’s championship. The battle joined in the Audi 200 Quattro, Sierra RS Cosworth and Nissan 200 SX.

Lancia dominated the World Rally Championship from 1987 to 1992, as its 4wd Group A rally cars won six consecutive titles and put other manufacturers to shame. More than a decade later, Integrales still claim cult status among dedicated owners who value the pure joy of driving.

Here is a historical review of the production and the modifications of the car:

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 Fergusen viscous coupling and a Torsen rear diff.

The bulges in the wheel arches were very popular in the ’80s. The Integrale was one of the most characteristic examples of this design trend, which was used, also in the first BMW M3 and the Audi Quattro. This wheel arch bulges were used to accommodate bigger wheels and wider track on the fast versions of the cars and also to differentiate them from the humbler ones.

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-DIN and the performance to unparalleled heights: 0-100 Klm/h in 6.6 seconds, top speed 215 Klm/h.

And it didn’t take the Delta 4WD long to crash through the 5,000 unit barrier required for Group A homologation.

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.

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.

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.

Club Italia – The rarest of all special editions, the Club Italia was made with a limited run of just fifteen cars for members of the Club Italia. These cars are easily identified by the Club Italia script was written on both the front of the car and the rear wing.

Total sales of all versions of the Integrales came to 44,296; the Integrale regularly topped the sales charts for performance 4X4 cars.

When compared to the standard Delta chassis, the Integrale features larger brakes, and an updated suspension including new front springs, dampers struts. What remains identical is the proven drive train which helped the Delta HF 4WD dominate Group A rally.

The secret to the Delta’s sporting performance is its permanent four wheel drive system. It uses a Ferguson layout, having three differentials. At The rear is Torsen, or torque sensing, differential which mechanically splits the power in a linear fashion. The Torsen differential delivers instantaneous lock upon high loads and not during braking like viscous couplers. Such a differential is very expensive, any seldom seen on any 4WD production cars.

At the center of the 4WD system is a viscous coupling differential which divides the torque to the front or rear wheels. Under normal conditions, 53 percent of the power is sent to the rear wheels.Despite such a complex drive train, the engineers at Lancia still opted for optional ABS on the Integrale.

One of most famous drivers of the Lancia Delta HF integrale was Didier Auriol, he won his first World Championship event: the 1988 Tour de Corse, driving a Ford Sierra Cosworth. For 1989 he moved to the Martini Lancia team, where he remained for four seasons, driving three successive versions of the then-dominant Lancia Delta Integrale. In 1992, driving the final evolution of the car, he won six events in one season; a record until beaten by Sebastien Loeb in 2005.

33ème Tour de Corse – Rallye de France 1989 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale

58ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo 1990 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V

34ème Tour de Corse – Rallye de France 1990 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V

32º Rallye Sanremo – Rallye d’Italia 1990 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V

33º Rallye Sanremo – Rallye d’Italia 1991 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V

60ème Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo 1992 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale

36ème Tour de Corse – Rallye de France 1992 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale

39th Acropolis Rally 1992 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale

12º Rally Argentina 1992 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale

42nd 1000 Lakes Rally 1992 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale

5th Telecom Rally Australia 1992 Co-driver: Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale

The most prepared company for the transition from Group B to Group A racing was Lancia. Their determination to stay on top of field can be seen not only in the evolution of the Delta race car, but the road car as well.

From 1987 to 1992, Lancia consecutively won the Group A manufacturers championship, a record which holds to this day. Nor any came close to its 46 WRC wins during those years. Eclipsing Lancia Stratos, Audi Quattro and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, Delta HF Integrale is the greatest rally car in history. With these results, Lancia have made the Integrale one of the most successful rally cars ever – a legendary car of our time. Integrale was defined as “complete” – but the evolution of the Integrale was far from complete, as successive years saw Lancia.