Specification

   
  • Parent company Fiat Group
  • Manufacturer Lancia
  • Production 1979-1999, 2008 -
  • Body style(s) 3 and 5-door hatchback
  • Class Small family car
  • Successor None

The history of the Lancia Delta

   

The Lancia Delta is a small family car produced by Italian automaker Lancia with the first generation being produced between 1979 and 1994, the second generation running from 1993 until 1999, and the third generation Delta entering production in 2008. It was first shown in Frankfurt Motor Show in 1979. The Delta is best known for its World Rally Championship career in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it dominated rallying. Lancia offered road-going versions of these competition cars the Lancia Delta HF4WD and Integrale.
The first Delta was a five-door hatchback designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and released in 1979. For a period of time, it was also sold in Sweden by Saab Automobile, badged as the Saab 600. Saab assisted with some areas of the car's design and as a result the Delta was better suited for colder climates. Key competitors were the Volkswagen Golf, Opel Astra/Kadett and Ford Escort. For a few years after its launch, the Delta was one of the most contemporarily styled cars of its class in Europe and was voted Car of the Year in 1980.
While the majority of Delta models were ordinary small family cars, the most famous model was the Delta HF Integrale, a four-wheel drive hot hatch with a powerful turbocharged petrol engine. A tweaked version of the HF dominated the World Rally Championship, scoring 46 WRC victories overall and winning the Constructors Championship a record six times in a row from 1987 to 1992, in addition to Drivers' Championship titles for Juha Kankkunen (1987 and 1991) and Miki Biasion (1988 and 1989).
The Lancia Delta S4, which the works team ran immediately prior to the HF 4WD and Integrale models' world championship careers from the season-ending 1985 RAC Rally until the end of the 1986 season, while sharing the same name and appearance, was a Group B race car designed specifically for rallying, and was entirely different from the commercial Delta in terms of construction and performance.
In 1986, the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile, the World Rally Championship governing body, decided to scrap plans for a proposed Group S as well as cancelling Group B. It ruled that Group B cars were too fast and, as a consequence, too dangerous. It is arguable that Lancia was one of the more far-sighted manufacturers at the time, as it was already developing the Delta HF 4X4 production car using experience gained from the development of the S4 rally car.
Superseding the Delta HF Turbo as the flagship of the Delta range S4 excepted the HF 4WD had a lot to live up to. The HF Turbo was no slouch and its handling was praiseworthy for a front-wheel drive car.
The Delta range was first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1980 and remained virtually unchanged until 1986, when small changes were made to the cars' body shape, the engines updated and the four-wheel drive model introduced.
One of the features of the Delta HF 4WD is the under-statement of the body styling. There is very little to distinguish the car from the earlier 'Turbo i.e.' apart from the four-headlight system, fog lamps mounted in the front spoiler, discreet 4WD badging on the rear hatch, small side skirts and two raised air intakes on the bonnet. The later car is therefore virtually indistinguishable from the 1600 cc HF Turbo i.e.
In the Delta HF 4X4, Lancia opted for a four-wheel drive system with an in-built torque-splitting action to ensure that the available power was going to the wheels with the most traction at any given time, thus ensuring the most efficient use of the available power and torque.
Three differentials are at the heart of the system. Drive to the front wheels is linked through a free-floating differential; drive to the rear wheels is transmitted via a 56/44 front/rear torque-splitting Ferguson viscous-coupling-controlled epicyclic central differential. At the rear wheels is a Torsen (torque sensing) rear differential.
The Torsen differential is a true 'intelligent' differential in the way it distributes torque. It divides the torque between the wheels according to the available grip, and does so without ever locking fully: maximum lockup is 70%.
Standard differentials are either free-floating or self-locking. Free-floating systems are good at differentiating between wheel speeds on bends, but always supply the same amount of torque to both wheels. In this situation, however, there is a risk that the wheel with the lighter load (on an incline, for example) or less grip, will lose traction. To counteract this possibility, totally self-locking differentials ensure that both wheels rotate at the same speed but in doing this, prevent free differentiation in cornering, to the detriment of handling and stability.
The basic suspension layout of the Delta 4WD remains the same as in the rest of the two-wheel drive Delta range: MacPherson struttype independent suspension with dual-rate dampers and helicoidal springs, with the struts and springs set slightly off-centre.
There are a few more subtle changes, though, with the suspension mounting points to the body shell, now better insulated by incorporating flexible rubber links to provide improved isolation. Progressive rebound bumpers have also been adopted, while the damper rates, front and rear toe-in and the relative angle between springs and dampers have all been altered. The steering retains the rack and pinion mechanism of the rest of the Delta range, but in this application it is power-assisted. Steering effort has been reduced further by fitting thrust bearings of the ball, rather than roller type. Additional steering sensitivity has also been obtained by adjusting the angle of incidence of the steering rack.
Lancia designed the HF Integrale to incorporate the advanced technical features of the Delta HF 4WD. The result is a stylish, luxurious yet utterly practical five door hatchback with impeccable road manners, but capable of a blistering 0100 km/h (062 mph) acceleration in just 6.6 seconds and a maximum speed of 133 mph (214 km/h).
At the heart of the 8-valve HF Integrale is a 2-litre 4-cylinder fuel injected twin cam engine, fitted with contra-rotating balancing shafts. This version incorporated the following improvements over the HF 4WD: New valves, valve seats and water pump, larger water and oil radiators, more powerful cooling fan and bigger air cleaner. A larger capacity Garrett T3 turbocharger with improved air flow and bigger inter-cooler to aid volumetric efficiency, together with revised settings for the electronic injection/ignition control unit and a knock sensor, boost power output to 185 bhp (DIN) (136 kW) at 5300 rpm and maximum torque of 31 mkgf (304 Nm, 224 lbfft) at 3500 rpm.
The HF Integrale transmission systems incorporates permanent 4-wheel drive, a front transversely mounted engine and five-speed gearbox. An epicyclic centre differential normally splits the torque 56 per cent to the front axle, 44 per cent to the rear. However a noiseless, fully automatic Ferguson viscous coupling balances the torque split to give the optimal division between front and rear axles depending on road conditions and tyre grip. The Torsen rear differential further divides the torque delivered to each rear wheel according to grip available. By using the interaction between a worm screw and helical gear (movement is transmitted from screw to gear only) the Torsen system ensures that the wheel with less weight or grip receives less torque and therefore maintains traction. A free floating front differential completes the system to ensure maximum traction even at speed on adverse road surfaces. A shorter final drive ratio (3.111 instead of 2.944 on the HF 4WD) is used to match the larger 6.5x15 wheels to give 24 mph/1000 rpm (39 km/h per 1000 rpm) in fifth gear.
Both braking and suspension were uprated to match the HF Integrale's increased performance. The ventilated front discs were increased in diameter to 284 mm (11.2 in), improved friction coefficient pads were fitted to the rear brakes. A larger brake master cylinder and servo lessened pedal effort for quicker response and reduced the risk of overheating in even the most demanding situations. The all round independent suspension features new front springs, dampers and front struts.
To match the mechanical improvements and higher performance, Lancia gave the HF Integrale a new, more purposeful look while retaining all the practical advantages of the five door body shell. Immediately noticeable are the rounded, bulged wheel arches housing the wider section 195/55 VR tyres on 15-inch 6J alloy wheels. A new bonnet incorporated air louvres while the restyled bumpers wrapped around to meet the wheel arches at front and rear. The front bumper, now wider, incorporates air intakes to assist engine cooling, and houses rectangular auxiliary driving lights, that complement the twin circular headlights. The side skirts are faired into the wheel arches at front and rear and carry "Delta HF Integrale" badges to complement those on grille and rear hatch. The twin rear view mirrors are finished in body colour.
In 1988, Lancia gained 10 victories out of 11 rallies and the world title, won well before the end of the season. The 8 valve Delta had won, ahead of every rival in every continent, demonstrating its unrivalled performance, reliability and durability. But Lancia did not let this lull them into complacency, the 16 valve HF Integrale was being developed and was to run alongside its stablemate during the 1989 season. The new car was identifiable from its predecessor by the raised centre of the bonnet to accommodate the new 16 valve engine. The other exterior changes visible were; wider wheels and tyres and new identity badges front and rear. The 16 valve integrale was published in 1989 Geneva Motorshow.
The torque split was changed to 47% front and 53% rear, this gave the car better handling characteristics, on tarmac, where the Ford Cosworths were beginning to show their potential. Both the 8 and 16 valve cars were in use by the Works Team during the 1989 season, the 16 valve made its successful debut on the Sanremo Rally with Miki Biasion, at this time the new livery of the 16 valve cars was red; however, the colour reverted to white for the 1990 season as red was found to be less incisive than white in photographs and on television.
The turbocharged 2-litre Lancia 16v engine is already a powerful, refined performer, but was further developed for the Integrale 16v. Generating 200 bhp (149 kW) at 5500 rpm, it can take the car to a maximum speed of 137 mph (220 km/h) and get it from 0100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 5.5  seconds. Larger injectors provide higher power output and efficient exploitation of the fuel feed at high engine speeds. The response of a Garrett T3 turbocharger is immediate, thanks to the reduced inertia of the turbine. A highly efficient intercooler provides the driver with more power and greater reliability. The new over-boost system uses a proportional electrovalve, to give a lift to engine torque: 220 lbfft (298 Nm) at 3000 rpm. All these improvements make the road-going version of the Integrale 16v a spirited, reliable and inherently safe car. The exuberant 16-valve engine, however, retains commendable refinement, thanks to the inclusion of two counter-rotating balancer shafts, eliminating vibration to give superb smoothness. The engine can also run on unleaded fuel without modification.
The Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v uses a dual circuit braking system with each axle separate, which is safer because directional stability is maintained by each axle. The optional four-channel, second generation ABS system is mounted on this circuit. Designed specifically for four-wheel drive, it ensures safe braking on all surfaces and in any situation, in the minimum distance, to maintain directional stability. In emergency braking, the electronic control unit uses two sensors, detecting transverse and longditudinal accelerations to deliver braking pulses appropriate to each side of the vehicle. Loss of control over ground with uneven grip can thus be prevented. The sensors are situated at the car's centre of gravity, near the gear lever. System efficiency is assured by electronic self diagnosis carried out automatically after starting the engine
The Integrale based Hyena was built in collaboration between the Lancia importer for The Netherlands Paul Koot and Zagato. The Hyena was designed in 1990 by Marco Pedracini (Zagato), and introduced at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1992. The Hyena was based on the Delta Integrale floorpan structure, but with a 2-door coupe body. Integrales were stripped down in Holland and then sent to Zagato in Italy to have the new composite/alloy body fitted. They were then sent back to Holland for final assembly. All of this made the Hyena very expensive to build and they were sold for around $75,000. The Hyena weighed around 200 kilograms (440 lb) less than original Integrale and had around 250 brake horsepower (190 kW) and could accelerate from 0100 km in 5.4 seconds.
The successor to the original Delta, the 'Nuova Delta', was introduced in 1993 based on the Fiat Tipo platform. The Nuova Delta was targeted at customers more interested in comfort and convenience than overall performance and power.
The Nuova Delta was offered with engine versions up to 193 PS (142 kW; 190 hp), but without four-wheel drive. Until 1995 only five-door hatchback body styles was offered, when the three-door was introduced under the name HPE. In 1996 two 1.8-litre engines were introduced (one with variable valve timing) and the naturally-aspirated 2.0 was discontinued.
The Delta was dropped from Lancia's lineup in 1999.
In September 2006 Lancia officially announced the revival of the Delta name, with new cars to be built on the Fiat C platform.

Type 1980s 1990s 2000s
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Supermini   A112* Y10* Y Ypsilon
Small family car Delta I Delta II   Delta III
Large family car Beta   Prisma Dedra Lybra  
Beta Trevi      
Executive car Gamma Thema Kappa Thesis
Mini MPV       Musa
Large MPV     Zeta Phedra
Racing
car
  037 Delta S4      
  LC1 LC2      

Lancia for sale

   
Lancia Beta
1978 West Midlands
GBP6,495
Trade sale Views: 3509
Lancia Beta
1977 Lisbon
GBP6,000
Private sale Views: 1667
Lancia B20-2500GT
1954 Piedmont
POA
Trade sale Views: 4057
Lancia Flaminia
1963 London
POA
Trade sale Views: 3968
Lancia Flavia
1964 London
GBP4,000
Private sale Views: 8957
Lancia Aurelia
1951 Veneto
GBP37,000
Private sale Views: 2460