Years ago, in the days before penicillin, the little Giugiaro-designed Lancia Delta, a square-sided, five-door, front-wheel drive family hatchback of neat detail and adequate dynamic abilities, won the 1980 European Car of the Year award.
It's fair to say that those not in the know saw no obvious clue in this simple car to the humdinger of a thing we now know later evolutions of it became. Despite the firm's considerable successes in rallying at the time, and the fact that Fiats and Lancias of this period were always happily susceptible to a bit of aftermarket tuning.
Indeed here we are, 38 years later, pawing over an ad for one of its later variants, some of us almost priapic in the discovery that this wonderfully charismatic little thing can still be bought - at least in this earliest, and some would say unmolested - form, for a not ridiculous sum of cash.
You see this early Delta HF Integrale 8v, plucked from our classifieds, is on offer for £18,495, whereas a later Evo model could easily set you back two or three times as much.
True, it's not as quick as an Evo, nor is it quite as deliberately eye-catching or demonstrably purposeful, but its relative simplicity is still tantalising, and its performance still thrilling.
Under the bonnet is that delightful 185hp 2.0-litre twin-cam four, with a Garrett T3 turbo enlarging its lungs. It endowed the Integrale with 0 to 60mph performance of 6.6 seconds, a time that still seems outstandingly good today, and felt little short of rocket science back then. Indeed if you take one out now and wring it by its neck it still sounds ace, emitting an intoxicatingly zingy rasp as it approaches the red line. It corners beautifully, too, with lucid and responsive steering, high levels of four-wheel drive grip and a chassis balance that is a lesson in fluidity and neutrality.
True, its interior looks a little dated - no, it looks very dated - and the switchgear's pretty unappetising, but the Momo steering wheel's great and the Alcantara trim is a neat touch. Sitting on the left to drive it does give it a whiff of the exotic, and we haven't even mentioned the phenomenal rallying success yet!
This Monza Red example's an original UK car, too, rather than a later import, and has only 64,000 miles on the clock (okay, okay, 103,000 kms). It's unmodded, offers a service history and a stack of old MOTs, as well as a full catalogue of recent work and overhauls done. I think it would be possible to spend a great deal more and have a great deal less fun.
SPECIFICATION: LANCIA DELTA HF INTEGRALE 8V
Engine: Front 2.0-litre twin-cam inline turbocharged four
Transmission: Five-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 185
Torque (lb ft): 224
0-60mph: 6.6 seconds
Top speed: 135mph