It's easy to understand the appeal of the Lancia Delta HF Integrale. For starters, the boisterous turbocharged tearaway was tremendously successful in the WRC - as was the preceding HF 4WD variant - and routinely fought off heavy-hitting rivals such as the Audi Quattro.
Lancia's high-performance hatch didn't just find success on the stages, though; road-going versions of the compact Italian quickly became renowned for their grip, traction, keen handling and cross-country performance.
These capabilities were in part due to the Integrale's all-wheel-drive system, which featured a viscous centre diff - while, out back, a Torsen differential made the best of the available traction.
Even in early eight-valve form, the Integrale was indisputably a quick car. The 2.0-litre turbocharged and intercooled engine produced 185hp and 224lb ft, which allowed the Delta to sprint from 0-60mph in under 6.5 seconds. All that hardware did lead to a kerb weight of 1,267kg, which was notably heavier than other performance hatches of the day, but then the Integrale was arguably in a different class from many of those front-wheel-drive alternatives.
In any case, for anyone seeking greater thrills, quicker iterations of the Integrale were soon to arrive; the first 8v version in 1987, followed by the slightly more powerful 16v in '89. The more aggressive-looking, restyled and uprated Evoluzione I landed in '91, again followed by the further upgraded Evoluzione II in 1993. There were numerous special editions, too, and even a prototype Evoluzione III.
Buying an Integrale is a not the decision of a moment, mind; for one thing, they are nowadays typically very expensive cars - although the 8v and 16v variants can often be had for more sensible money. In particular, the early 8v model shouldn't be overlooked; this purer and more easily maintained iteration of the Delta can be just as enjoyable as its bigger brothers and, in the real world, its performance is often on a par with the standard 16v offering.
Anyone considering buying a Delta should also drive one first, lest they find its feel, performance and dynamic capabilities don't match up with what they envisioned given the price - and this is particularly important if you're on a tighter budget; any comparatively modern hot hatch will often be a far more easily enjoyed car due to improved durability and lower running costs - and, for some, more entertaining due to reduced body roll, better brakes and more evocative engines.
In any case, if you've long lusted after an Integrale - and justifiably so - here's what to look out for. While this guide focuses primarily on various iterations of the Integrale, much of it also applies to the all-wheel-drive HF and HF Turbo.
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Bodywork and interior
The Delta was originally conceived as a simple front-wheel-drive family car. The higher-performance versions, with more powerful engines and all-wheel drive, would subsequently push the shell to its limits. As a result, you need to check carefully for any signs of cracking; common failure points include the corners of the windscreen, the bulkhead around the chassis leg attachments and the perimeter of the rear turrets. Chassis strengthening kits are available but will require welding and paintwork.
Many Integrales have lived a hard life. Consequently, you need to check carefully for any signs of accident damage - such as uneven panel gaps, creases in panels and ill-fitting doors. A history check is a good starting point but, if you're looking at an import, it won't flag any incidents the car has experienced prior to arriving on UK shores. Similarly, be wary of low-mileage imports that are lacking in history as they could have been clocked.
Rust can be an issue, unsurprisingly. Common points that corrosion attacks include the trailing edge of the roof, the arches, doors, turrets and windscreen pillars. Be wary of cars lathered with underseal, too, as many types do an excellent job of simply trapping moisture - hiding corrosion until an MOT tester punches a hole through the floor. Check for signs of improper jacking, too, as it's not uncommon for damage to be caused by not using the correct jacking points.
Eight-valve Integrales should have a flat bonnet, with a louvred section near the nose. Most have been done away with, though, and replaced with the bulged 16v bonnet. Bear this in mind if originality is key, as the flat bonnets are difficult to source.
Specialists such as Walkers Garage do offer repair sections for some panels but complete panels are hard to come by. However, many trim and detail parts are available off the shelf - such as door mirrors, badges and light clusters.
Interiors, some brittle plastics aside, tend to be quite hard-wearing affairs - but any major material damage to the door cards or seats will necessitate a re-trim. Otherwise, ensure that everything works and that there's no obvious damage or signs of water ingress; left unchecked, damp will exacerbate corrosion of the floorpans.
Engine and transmission
The Integrale's four-cylinder engine, be it in eight- or 16-valve configuration, should prove durable provided it is maintained properly. Murky fluids, a low oil level and signs of infrequent servicing should ring alarm bells. A good sign of engine health is if the red oil pressure warning light indicates quickly from a cold start; expect a serviceable engine to show around one bar of oil pressure at idle when warm and around three bar and up at 3,000rpm. If it's making ominous noises, walk away.
Cambelt kits, including new belts and tensioners but excluding a water pump, will cost you around £220; expect to pay upwards of £500 for a belt change at a specialist. A water pump will cost an additional £80 and should always be replaced with the belts, as it will inevitably fail after you've renewed everything else - and getting at it later down the line will be a tiresome process. Many recommend changing the belts, including the balance shaft belts, every three years or 24,000 miles; some change them every two years as a snapped belt can cause significant damage. It's worth noting that 8v failures are less common than 16v failures, due to the lower loading on the belt.
As well as looking for evidence of regular cambelt changes, it's worth checking for signs of routine servicing using high-quality components and fluids - the latter of which are essential to ensure the long life of a Lancia engine. Many engines may have also been modified; if you're not adverse to the concept, do try to ensure that the work has been properly carried out using suitable parts and appropriate tuning.
Intermittent stuttering or stalling can be caused by a failing crank position sensor. Fortunately, OEM Replacements only cost £30. If there's any question as to the health of the rest of the ignition system, though, it's worth overhauling the lot - which won't break the bank.
An annoying and perpetual squeak can be the result of an improperly tensioned ancillary belt. The tension can be adjusted manually; if the belt is found to be tired, a replacement will cost £10. A replacement pulley, on the other hand, will cost around £60. Replacement tensioner supports can also be bought for £75, should you break the original.
Besides inspecting for any signs of head gasket or oil contamination issues, look for signs of blue smoke when accelerating or decelerating. If present, it's likely that the turbocharger's seals have failed. An exchange unit or rebuild will typically cost in the region of £350-£600, depending on exact specification. It's best to budget for substantially more, though, as replacing the turbocharger requires considerable front-end work - which will likely uncover other components that require attention. For example, you may find the exhaust manifold has cracked or that cooling-related components need replacing.
An oil leak from the nose can be indicative of a failing turbocharger or a leak from the oil cooler assembly; endeavour to ascertain which is at fault. Replacing the oil cooler and its associated lines, if you wish to use original components, will cost around £600. Aftermarket alternatives are available.
Make sure the clutch engages smoothly and progressively and that the transmission is free from noise. Any problems here could require significant and costly remedial work to the Integrale's drivetrain. Issues with the differentials, including the rear Torsen differential, are rare.
There are 90-degree elbows on top of the fuel tank that, being plastic, can perish with age. When the tank is brimmed, fuel can force open the cracked elbows and flood down the side of the tank. Upgraded aluminium elbows can be had for £30 but you'll need to drop the tank to fit them.
Suspension and steering
Major problems with the Integrale's suspension and steering are rare but age-related wear and tear, such as tired bushes or shot bearings, can cause issues. Fortunately, all parts are readily available and not overly expensive; shocks can be had for around £120 a corner while complete bush kits can be had for £400. In any case, consider investing in a four-wheel alignment session - if there's no evidence of one being done in recent history - as this will ensure the Delta is dialled in properly.
It's not uncommon for Deltas to have been upgraded with aftermarket strut braces and other adjustable or uprated components; however, it's worth casting a more careful eye over cars with stiffer suspension set-ups. These will tax the already weak shell and can result in, or exacerbate, cracking of key areas. Stiffer suspension also makes the car far less capable across rougher roads and can worsen its handling and manners in certain conditions.
All Deltas are left-hand drive from the factory but a few were converted by dealers such as Lancia importer and dealer John Whalley. These used different steering racks that were not as quick as the OEM LHD rack, however, resulting in a less direct and responsive experience. If the source of the conversion cannot be confirmed as one of the reputable ones, it's probably best avoided.
Wheels, tyres and brakes
Getting tyres for an Integrale isn't a problem; decent 195/55 R15s for an 8v can be had for around £65 a corner. Do ensure that the tyres are wearing evenly, though - and check to see if the tyres match across the axles at the very least. A set of matching high-quality tyres, for one thing, is indicative of a properly maintained car.
Check both the outside and inside edge of the wheels for damage as heavy impacts can distort them significantly. Some damage can be repaired but if a replacement is required then there are several options, including reconditioned, new old stock or replica wheels. Aftermarket alternatives are also available.
Braking components such as pads, discs and ABS sensors are all readily available for the Integrale. Specialist AE Car, for example, charges £95 for a set of front discs for an Evolution and £40 for a set of pads. Ensure the handbrake functions effectively, though, as the actuating mechanism in the rear caliper can stick. The brakes are one of the least impressive aspects of many an Integrale, though, so do not be surprised or concerned if they have been uprated.
SPECIFICATION - LANCIA DELTA HF INTEGRALE 8V/16V
Engine: 1,995cc four-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed manual, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 185/200@5,300/5,500
Torque (lb ft): 224/220@3,500/3,000
Price new: £16,995/£19,625 (1989)
Price now: Upwards of £8,000 (Integrale HF 8v)