Used car buying guide: Lancia Delta HF Integrale
Integrale prices are on the way up, but there are still bargain models for the canny buyer
The Integrale may be a rally icon but a bad one is just awful. We show you how to avoid the traps
Better late than never, they say, and with prices of the legendary Lancia Delta HF Integrale of 1986-95 heading skywards, you could say the ‘elephant’ has well and truly bolted. But do not despair. Take your courage in both hands and buy an Integrale at auction and you might bag a tidy example of the less revered eight-valve version for around £15,000, as one bidder did as recently as last October.
True, it had been converted from the standard left-hand drive to right-hand drive, although by well-regarded specialist John Whalley. Also in its favour was a mileage of just 56,000, a good service record, with work done by respected Integrale specialists, and a full body restoration in 2008. The auction house rated it as being in very good condition.
The point is, there are still tidy Integrales out there for everyman money – reassuring when the only prices you seem to see these days are north of £40,000 for clean Evo 2 versions and as much as £150,000 for the very best last-of-line cars.
The model appeared first in 1986 in standard-bodied HF 4WD form, featuring a viscous centre diff and a Torsen rear diff and powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 162bhp. Off road, competition versions were claiming all the silverware so, on a roll, Lancia upgraded the model in 1987, naming it the Integrale and giving it a wider body, a wider track and flared arches housing larger wheels. With its smattering of air vents, it looked on point, straight out of the box.
The first of this new breed was the 182bhp Integrale 8v but, emboldened by the model’s continuing success in rallies, Lancia replaced it in 1989 with the 16-valve version, producing 197bhp and with a revised torque split in favour of the rear wheels. It also sat 20mm lower and had larger wheels all round.
Then in 1991 came the first of the even wider-bodied and wider-wheeled Evoluzione versions. First out was the 207bhp Evo 1, followed in 1993 by the almost identical Evo 2, although it had 16in as opposed to 15in alloy wheels and, to counter the drag of its catalytic converter, 212bhp. Both spawned a host of special editions.
Integrales were never cheap to run when new, but now that most are pushing 30, you can throw in a refurb bill, too. Not only that but there are also rogues out there. For example, for a long time, they were bought by people who tried to pass 8vs off as 16vs, and Evo 1s as Evo 2s. Others bodged right-hand-drive conversions, although, saying that, even a proper conversion is not as quick or direct as the pukka lefthand-drive set-up.
There’s a good market for Japanese imports, even though it can be hard to check the car’s service history. Going in the other direction, Germany and the US are busily hoovering up our best cars and, in the process, driving prices higher still. So if you want one, don’t hang around.
How to get one in your garage
An expert’s view
Steve Shaw, service manager, Walkers Garage: “I’ve been working on Integrales ever since the model first went rallying. I’ve owned two or three, although I admit I bought them to sell. There’s nothing like an Integrale to drive. When they’re good, they’re very good, but I have to say that when they’re bad, they’re horrible! Regular servicing is the key to keeping an Integrale sweet. Do that and things like the engine and transmission will be reliable. You can expect to find some rust, cracks in the body and tired suspension bushes, but get those sorted and with export demand very strong, you can expect to get your money back, plus some.”
■ Engine: Look for oil leaks from the upper sump gasket. Beware camshaft failure, especially exhaust cam lobes worn down by metal filings in the oil bath. Cambelt and water pump are best changed every three years. Exhaust smoke could be the turbo but more likely caused by worn valve guides. In cars that have been standing for long periods, the rubber fuel pump mount dissolves and blocks the pump.
■ Transmission: Check for leaks from the rear diff and epicyclic gear noise from the front diff. Old fluid in the viscous coupling can cause engagement problems. Fifth gear’s brass synchro cones wear and third gear can simply break.
■ Suspension: Tired front wishbone bushes will cause uneven front tyre wear. Most have been upgraded to Powerflex bushes. Evo brakes squeal but it’s almost impossible to cure.
■ Body: Look for rust around the front and rear screens, the top of the rear strut mounts, where the front inner wings meet the front cross member, and at the back of the roof. Check for stress cracks at the top of the A-pillar under the windscreen rubber, and down by the bottom of the doors – although this last check might mean partial removal of the bodykit.
■ Interior: Trim can crack around the radio and clock where screws have been over-tightened. The parcel shelf is likely to be broken but new ones are available.
Also worth knowing
FCA Heritage has launched a new range of parts for classic vehicles with the remanufacturing of the front and rear bumpers for the Delta HF Integrale and Evo. They are cast using the original equipment, including dies salvaged from the Turin factory. Just 250 for each version will be available.
How much to spend
£14,000-£19,999: Early HF 4WD and 8v cars, a few converted to right-hand drive.
£20,000-£24,999: Some modified cars, including a 16v converted to look like an Evo 1 for £21,000. Also a tidy, rust-free 1990-reg 16v for £24,950.
£25,000-£29,999: Includes a Japan-import 16v for £27,950.
£30,000-£44,999: Evo 1s and 2s start here, such as a 1994-reg Evo 2 with 80,000 miles for £39,995.
£45,000-£150,000: The best Evos, up to £150,000 for an Evo 2 Final Edition.
One we found
Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8V, 1988/E-reg, 64,000 miles, £19,995: It was imported from Germany in 1998 and, the seller claims, is in excellent condition and has always been garaged. Lots of service history and workshop invoices. Cambelt and water pump were changed in 2018.