Avoid Integrale buying risks
The Lancia Integrale evolved from the Delta HF 4WD of 1986, the year when Lancia won ten of the 11 World Rally Championship events. Appreciation for its abilities and historical significance have soared in recent years, so values have shot up and these cars have increasingly become mothballed collectors’ pieces – a shame because the Integrale is still one of the best driver’s cars ever created.
Today, later Integrales are big money but the earlier models are still relatively accessible. A non-Evo Integrale makes a lot of sense – these are also likely to become significantly more valuable as the Evos are elevated ever further beyond reach. And it’s not as though an early Integrale is a poor relation because all variations on the theme offer a compelling package – this is a car that you can buy with your heart as well as your head, even if it’s invariably the former that shouts the loudest. The experts who have helped us put this guide together are Auto Sportivo’s Antonio Damiano and Keith Turner from Auto Integrale, both of whom specialise in Integrales.
Which one to choose?
1 Lancia Delta HF Turbo 4WD Launched in 1986 with a 165bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre twin-cam four-pot. 5298 built.
2 Lancia Delta Integrale 8v Built from 1988 with blistered wheelarches housing bigger wheels and brakes. The turbo and intercooler are bigger and bonnet louvres keep it all cool. Power and torque are 185bhp and 224lb ft to give 135mph and 0-60mph in 6.2sec. 9841 built.
3 Lancia Delta Integrale 16v Launched in 1989, the 16v is lowered, with optional ABS. Power is 200bhp to give 137mph. 12,860 non-cat cars are built and 2700 with cats.
4 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione (Evo 1) On sale from 1991. Even bigger wheelarches, wider track, stronger brakes with standard ABS, and the rear wing is adjustable. It’s got 210bhp but performance matches the Integrale 16v. Including special editions, 6451 non-cat Evo Is are made plus 4650 with cats.
5 Lancia Delta Integrale Martini 5/6 Special editions to celebrate Lancia’s fifth and sixth consecutive Championship wins in 1991/1992; all are white with Martini side-stripes and white wheels. The 5 has black bonnet vents and rear spoiler; the 6 has a turquoise Alcantara interior. Numbered dash plaques; 400 Martini 5s made, 310 Martini 6s.
6 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione 2 Final model from 1993 has 16in wheels, wider tyres and standard air-conditioning. Smaller turbo reduces lag, power rises to 215bhp. Special editions include Giallo, Blue Lagos, Pearl White, Dealer Edition and Final Edition. 2481 built, all with a cat. Total Integrale production numbers 44,296 including other special editions not sold in the UK.
Bodywork and structure Plenty of Integrales have been crashed then repaired – sometimes badly. Getting an HPI check (01722 422422) is worthwhile but there’s no substitute for closely inspecting panel gaps and looking for tell-tale ripples in the structure, although even when new the shut lines could be uneven. Key areas to check for kinks and cracks are the tops of the A-, B- and D-posts and around the sunroof, if fitted.
Be particularly careful about the history of Integrales imported from Europe, where they tend not to be cherished so much. After being crashed they’re often bodged to get them back on the road, with bodyshells rarely put on a jig to get them straight.
Rust can be an issue, although it’s often the result of poor-quality accident repairs. Be sure to check the sills, inner rear wings and windscreen and sunroof surrounds. While you’re at it, take a close look at the back of the roof, the rear crossmember and the rear suspension turrets, all of which can corrode. Also inspect the front nearside chassis leg along with the jacking points, which get bombarded by salt.
New panels are unavailable but you can get most things on a used basis – at a price. Integrales aren’t being broken any more because of high values, so stock of spares is only going to dwindle even further.
Engines will take hard use in their stride, but not neglect. The most important preventative maintenance is keeping the oil topped up. If the engine is used hard, oil consumption can go up to as much as a litre every 1000 miles. Letting the level drop doesn’t just risk the engine getting hot or seizing – the oil pick-up point for the turbocharger is higher than for the sump’s, so the blower is in danger of seizing well before the engine suffers problems. Also, if the car is cornered hard and the oil level has been allowed to drop, the big end bearings will be starved of lubrication, leading to premature wear. Bearing this in mind, it’s essential to listen out for rumbling from the bottom end – a complete rebuild costs £5000.
Check for coolant leaking from the water pump and listen for a screeching noise. It costs a hefty £500 to replace the pump, so don’t dismiss the warning signs.
Transmission Even though Integrales were designed to be driven hard their five-speed gearboxes aren’t particularly tough and bearings often fail after less than 50,000 miles; the noise will make it obvious if it’s on the way out. Budget £900 for new bearings to be fitted; the work can be done in situ (unless a new clutch is also needed, a £750 job if it’s slipping). Don’t be tempted to it a used gearbox because it will probably be no better than the one you’re taking out.
Steering, suspension, brakes Even if the car hasn’t been abused it’s worth putting it onto a four-wheel alignment jig to make sure the suspension is properly set up, which makes a big difference to the handling. The suspension on these cars has generally been worked very hard, so check the bushes closely. There are eight on most Integrales; replacing them all costs £300. However, Evo models have just six bushes to be replaced, at a typical cost of £200.
There are no inherent weaknesses in Integrale suspension with the exception of the Evo 1 – feel for a vibration through your left foot which tells you that the rose-jointed anti-roll bar drop link bushes need replacing. They typically last around 5000 miles; replacing them costs around £150.
Unless you really want a particular car walk away if the suspension has been given Bilstein struts. They make the ride unbearably crashy and impose a lot of strain on the bodyshell, so it’s essential to brace it with a full roll cage. Worse still, they don’t really improve the car’s cornering ability anyway.
All Integrales were left-hand drive and that’s the way they should stay. Some right-hand drive conversions were carried out by Mike Spence Motorsport and John Whalley on a semi-official basis, but the steering racks used were Regatas that weren’t really suited to the car because they were too low-geared. Brakes are up to the job but check for juddering under load, signifying warped discs; upgraded replacements cost £120-£300, depending on the variant.
Interior and exterior trim The Alcantara trim tends to last well apart from the heavy bolsters of the Evo 2. More of a problem is damage from speakers being fitted to parcel shelves, which is why new replacement shelves are unobtainable; good used ones sell for £1000 when they do crop up. Seats can be retrimmed if necessary, but the fabric for the perforated strip in the centre of the seat can’t be sourced. Door trim panels are also extinct but they can usually be retrimmed if not too badly damaged. New carpet sets are available for around £350.
Keep it original The Integrale offers a lot of bangs for your buck, but not enough for some owners. There are quite a few modified Integrales out there and while not all of them are a liability, cars that have been left standard tend to be the least troublesome. Trying to push a lot of extra horses through the transmission – and reining them in via the braking system – can lead to all sorts of problems, which is why it’s best to keep things as Lancia intended.
‘We’re now returning these cars to standard spec having spent years modifying them,’ says Keith Turner. ‘The only cars we’re modifying are those used for rallying – significant changes affect values too much and in some overseas markets there are strict rules on modifications. In Germany, for example, the brakes and suspension must be kept as original.’
What to pay
1 Eight-valve cars are the most affordable with prices starting at £15k for a tatty but usable example. Really nice 8vs fetch up to £25k.
2 You’ll do well to buy a good Integrale 16v for less than £20k; superb ones cost up to £30k.
3 For an Evo I you’ll part with at least £40k for a really good example; for a show-stopper you can pay up to £65k.
4 Evo 2, the ultimate ’Grale, starts at £45k for a car worth owning, although the best low-mileage examples and special editions make two or three times that.
‘This is a car you buy with your heart as well as your head – even if it’s invariably the former that shouts loudest’
‘Be particularly careful about the history of cars imported from Europe, where they tend not be cherish d so much’
Some Integrales have been crashed and then poorly repaired – so it’s even more vital that usual to carry out a thorough inspection to make sure you get one that’s as straight as this 1993 Evo 2.
These four-cylinder engines thrive on hard driving and that means regular maintenance is essential – ignoring a thirst for oil will be expensively punished.
All Integrales were built with left-hand drive. Later variants had durable Alcantara interiors that respond well to a deep clean Integrale collectors prioritise Evo models, mileage and service history – in case it affects the investment potential – over real-world reliability. But for keen drivers, a well-inspected earlier car might offer the best value for money.
Owning a Lancia Delta Integrale
Antonio Damiano, Bedfordshire
Antonio runs Auto Sportivo and drives an Integrale Evo I he bought six years ago, ‘I imported the car from Switzerland, where all Integrales featured an eight-valve cylinder head to pass the emissions laws,’ he says. ‘The car was better than described so I got it for a good price, but it needed work. I had to replace the tailgate and driver’s door but the interior was like new and it was in excellent condition underneath. I had to replace the wiper arms at £250 and it took 12 weeks to get a replacement for the cracked windscreen. Mechanically, it just needed a fresh cambelt and full service, which I did myself. Parts are getting scarce and very costly, but if you know the right people you can get most things. A minor service costs £350 and a major is £500-£600; budget £1000 per year if you’re doing 3000 miles annually. The key thing is to change the lubricant every 3000 miles and keep the level topped up – an Integrale engine likes to use oil.’
James Greenwood, Oxon
James is another owner who likes to do his own maintenance, although he won’t replace a clutch or any belts because the latter needs a special tool. ‘In 2000 I decided I wanted a car with flared wheelarches – a BMW M3, Porsche 944, Clio Williams or Integrale,’ he recalls. ‘I tried a friend’s Lancia in the rain and was hooked – I went out and bought a 1992 Martini 5. Compared with some modern high-performance cars the Lancia isn’t that quick but it’s still plenty fast enough and you can deploy the power whatever the weather thanks to the four-wheel drive – when the turbo comes in at 2500rpm it’s especially satisfying. It’s small enough to park easily but it’s got a big boot and can easily transport a family of four in comfort. Because I do most of my own maintenance I reckon an annual budget of £300-£500 is all that’s needed, but parts are getting hard to find. I recently needed a new boot lock and couldn’t find one anywhere so I ended up rebuilding the original.’
Phil Charman, Derbyshire
As a child and throughout his teenage years, Phil travelled around the UK with his father to watch top-level rallying. Says Phil, ‘By the time I was 18 I’d bought my first Integrale, following in the footsteps of my dad who had recently done the same. I was a student and couldn’t afford an Evo so I bought an eight-valve model instead. That was in 2000 and I’ve still got the car, so it was a good buy.
The eight-valve cars have the power bias towards the front so it’s like an overgrown hot hatch to drive; the 16-valve models have a rear bias. The 8v also has a bigger turbo so there’s more lag but it’s more thrilling to drive. ‘My car was mothballed for a while but in 2017 I rebuilt it and now plan to do around 12,000 miles each year. Potential owners are frightened of by these cars but shouldn’t be because they’re tough and not particularly rust-prone; my car has never been garaged.
‘Running costs are very reasonable and, while some parts are hard to find, availability can be better than is often made out. I’ve budgeted around £2000-£3000 per year for maintenance for covering 12,000 miles, which is a bargain for the performance and fun that’s on offer.’
1989 Lancia Delta HF 8V
Price in UK 2018 £18,495
1989 example of Delta HF Integrale 8V finished in Monza Red. Original UK-supplied car, odometer reading of 103,000km (64000 miles).
The service book shows 10 stamps (by either main dealers or specialists). Head gasket replaced and radiator recored at 99,000km. Old MOTs back to 1996. Original 15in alloys with matching Avons. No evidence of accident damage, panelwork is perfectly straight.