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There are things in life that reach a legendary status for various reasons. The Lancia Delta Integrale, more than any other car, has reached this status partly because of its complete dominance of the rallying world for many successive years and partly because of the outraging looks of the Evoluzione models. Being a legend does not, of course, imply this car drives better than another, simply there´s a certain aura around it that makes most people fall in love with it or, to say the least, arouses their curiosity.

It is not easy for a novice to find his way through the different Delta Integrale models that were produced over a relatively long period so here´s a very brief description:

All models where based on the original Lancia Delta that was designed by Giorgio Guigiaro in 1979 who produced a remarkably time-resistant design. The chassis used was an evolution of the Fiat Ritmo´s.

The original model, launched during May 1986, was very close to a ´normal´ Delta with the addition of 4WD and a turbocharged engine. That was the Delta 4WD. It looked very close to the basic Delta but was a whole different car to drive. Its 2lt, 8 valve engine had an output of 165Bhp (150 in its ´green´ version).

Then, in November 1987, came the Integrale 8V followed, in May 1989, by the Integrale 16V. These models had wider wheel arches and modified suspension settings (although the basic geometry and layout remained the same) and more powerful engines (185Bhp for the 8V, 200Bhp for the initial 16V). Some countries, like Switzerland and Germany, would only import catalytic (green) engines. Lancia were not able (willing?) to produce a 16V catalyst equipped engine so they marketed special editions of the 16V and initial Evoluzione models in which they fitted an 8V catalytic engine (178Bhp).

In October 1991 Lancia produced the first Evoluzione model, sometimes referred to as Deltona. The car had a much wider body, different front suspension attachment points, longer suspension travel, additional air intakes, wider track, bigger front brakes with 4 pot aluminum calipers and a radiator to cool the power steering fluid among other minor changes. The Delta Evoluzione was fitted with a 16V engine that had an output of 210Bhp. The ´green´ countries still imported the Evoluzione fitted with an 8V engine and only 185Bhp. The Evoluzione I unfortunately maintained the undersized 15´ wheel but added 5 spoke hubs and a different, stronger, wheel design.

By June 1993 Lancia managed to produce a catalytic converter equipped version of the 16V engine and fitted it in the Evoluzione II . It had an output of 215Bhp, new engine management (still the excellent Magneti-Marelli IAW but running at 8MHz and using double the memory capacity compared to the previous ECU), a more sophisticated knock sensor was fitted to the engine bloc, a double ignition coil with dual outputs on each coil and contact-less ignition and, finally, 16´ wheels. This version was not used as an FIA GroupA homologation special so Lancia took the opportunity to produce a more civilized and progressive car. A smaller turbocharger was fitted, as compared to previous versions, and this resulted in less turbo lag but also less engine responsiveness in high revs. The Evoluzione II is significantly less performing than its predecessor but far more driver friendly and pleasant to drive on an everyday basis. The Evoluzione II Kat version is sometimes, wrongly, referred to as Evoluzione III.

The last Delta Integrale left the Maggiora factory in November 1994.

Comparing the initial Delta 4WD to the Evoluzione II can help you realize the stages of development the Lancia Integrale went through. Eight years on steroids added a whole 10cm to the front and rear tracks of the car. The Lancia´s width grew by some 15cm! during the same period. Note also that the Evoluzione series of the Integrale are as wide and use the same track width as current WRC class cars! Finally the 2lt engine´s output gained a whole 30% over 7 years of development evolving from the original 165Bhp to 215Bhp.

Basically all the models use the same transmission, 4WD train, engine bloc and suspension geometry. What differentiates them is mainly the engine´s output and management and of course the chassis. The Evoluzione models are the ones that display the best handling characteristics and feel more ´reassuring´ to the driver. Previous models, although very quick and impressive, have a certain savageness and unpredictability in them at the limit of grip.

The Integrale 8V in its Group A version.

Lancia is the most successful manufacturer in world rallying ever. The company has more than 74 victories on its account and 11 World Rally Championships (6 won with the Integrale, a unique figure in the WRC for any car). The Delta Integrale, all versions combined, has scored 46 WRC wins, another unique and unmatched figure. Naturally Lancia was the manufacturer best prepared to face the shift from Group B to Group A in 1987. They had a production car, at the time, which was far better suited for rallying than any other on the market. This car was the Delta 4WD. It naturally won all the main events the year Group B cars where banned (1986) and became world champion in 1987. It evolved, through the years (from 1987 to 1992) to be called Integrale then Integrale 16V and finally Integrale Evoluzione. It won 6 world rally championships far more than any other car. Lancia being the most serious manufacturer to have ever taken part in rallying the best drivers have driven for them: Kankkunen, Biasion, Auriol, Alen, Toivonen, Röhrl and even Carlos Sainz, they have all been behind Lancia steering wheels. Lancia is also the most successful team in the WRC with cars such as the Stratos - 17 WRC wins, 037 (a.k.a. Rally) - 6 WRC wins, the Delta S4 in Group B - 5 WRC wins and the Delta Integrale in Group A - 46 WRC wins. We´ll only deal with the latter in the next pages.

Lancia has been a Fiat owned company for many years now. Fiat also owns Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Innocenti and now Maserati. Their marketing strategy was to engage Ferrari in F1, Alfa Romeo in the Touring Car Championship and of course Lancia in the WRC. Another effect of Fiat´s ownership was the use of Fiat engines in the cars of all the other manufacturers. The engine that was chosen for the Integrale was the Fiat 2lt Turbo boosted inline 4. This engine, designed originally by Aurelio Lampredi (a genius who engineered Ferrari´s first engines back in 1947 and subsequently worked for FIAT/Abarth until 1982), was built around a dual camshaft head. Variations of the Lampredi engine were used, previously, in lots of Fiat and other Fiat owned cars like the Fiat 124, 125, 131, Ritmo, Lancia Beta and Delta. Check out the engine and Integrale 16V specs. The specs of the Integrale 8V are here, the Evoluzione specs here and Lancia rally car pictures here. The Lancia Delta Integrale uses a long stroke engine (bore smaller than stroke) favoring low rev torque over high rev output. This might seem to you as an atheism but, having owned both an 8V version and an Evolution II Cat (16V), I believe (and I´m not alone) that the 8 valve version of this engine is more fun to drive. This engine (the 8V) has a more ´savage´ feeling in it while under 5000rpm than the 16V versions. Remember that the 8V engine uses a larger turbocharger which introduces more lag but delivers substantial benefits in terms of driving pleasure. Of course the 16V version has more ´life´ in it above the 5000rpm mark. One last word on the Integrale´s engine. The unit has the peculiarity of using two balancing, counter rotating shafts in order to filter out vibrations that are inherent to 4 cylinder inline engines. These shafts were not used in competition engines.

Production-wise the number of cars produced by Lancia is:

1986/1987 7,665 units (4WD)

1988/1991 23,004 units (8V and 16V)

1991/1993 5,619 Evoluzione I

1993/1994 Evoluzione II 4,223

A grand total of 47,787 cars where produced.

Compare this number to the total of 7,145 Ford Escort RS Cosworth units.

When Lancia dominating rallying, with the Integrale (86-93), the rally world was a bit less sophisticated than it is nowadays. No computer controlled differentials, for instance, were used in races at that time, they were being developed then. So the Integrale was a solid car (compared to the ´fragile´ at the time Escort RS Cosworth) that managed to end most of the races it took part in.

The Delta was very remotely based on the S4 Group B car (or was it the other way around...). It´s main innovation, technically, was the use of a Torsen (which stands for Torque Sensing) rear differential. This device has extraordinary capabilities. It acts, somewhat, like a viscous coupler only its response to slide is instantaneous. It can also handle partial slip loads automatically whereas other types of mechanical differentials use fixed rates. The TorSen can therefore eliminate slip between wheels or axles for ratios of 10% up to almost 100%, by transferring the engine´s torque to the wheel that slips the less. Furthermore TorSen differentials, unlike viscous couplers which are very commonly used in 4 wheel drive cars, act differently when the car accelerates than when it brakes. In fact this is one of the main problems in 4 wheel drive cars. When the car accelerates it is very useful to be able to lock one (or all) of the differentials in case a wheel is spinning. When braking, on the other hand, if one wheel locks (due to excessive braking or loss of grip) the differential must not lock otherwise the locked wheel will greatly deteriorate the braking performance or even have the car spinning around its vertical axis. This problem was very elegantly solved by Lancia in the Integrale by the use of the TorSen differential and the braking system´s setup detailed further. Viscous couplers do lock in braking situations. In case you´re wondering why other manufacturers don´t use the TorSen the answer is: it costs more.

The Lancia Integrale 16V in its Group A version

The resemblance between the S4 and the Integrale stops at looks however. All other parts and car architecture are completely different. The Integrale sports a front, transversally mounted, 4 cylinder engine. The fact the engine is mounted transversally complicates the transmission layout for a 4 wheel drive car. It is particularly important that the shafts driving each wheel are of equal length. This is required to assure similar handling characteristics in both left and right corners. In the Integrale the problem is handled by mounting the gear box at the rear end of the engine (next to the left wheel) then using an internal axle to send back the power to the centrally mounted center differential. This, epicyclical, center differential uses a classic viscous coupler as a locking device and splits engine torque unequally between the front and rear axles.

The torque distribution between axles varies slightly between different Integrale versions. The first series of cars (Delta 4WD and Integrale 8V) use a 56/44 distribution favoring the front wheels. This undelrines the car´s front wheel drive heritage. The next series (Integrale 16V and evoluzione) use a 47/53 distribution favoring the rear wheels. The new torque distribution in 16V and evoluzione models was barely noticeable in every day driving conditions.

The Integrale´s short wheelbase, as compared to an Audi Coupé Quattro or other similarly ...
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