Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evo #4 – Spark

Evo #4
1992 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evo #4
Pilots: D. Auriol / B. Occelli 
Team: Martini Racing
Race: 1st overall (A8 class) at the Monte Carlo Rally 1992
Spark - S9015 (resin)

With the Delta S4’s gruesome history and the overall banning of Group B, Lancia needed a new rally car. Fortunately, the Italian brand had one ready: the regular Delta hatchback. In fact, the S4 looked like a regular Delta exactly to promote the hatchback’s sales. Moreover, the 1986 version of the Delta was the HF 4WD, with its tried and true 2.0 liter engine and 4-wheel drive. With such a solid base, it was just a matter of tuning the engine, addressing safety issues and painting the car with war paint. The car wasn’t perfect – after all, it was basically a pedestrian car, yet it was (much) better than the competition. With that, the Delta HF 4WD won the 1987 WRC. The following year, Lancia improved the HF 4WD into the Delta Integrale, and won again. The evolution continued, and in 1989 came the Integrale 16v, bringing another championship.

Evo #4
Truth be told, the Delta won the 1987 championship because there was no competition.

The big difference between the new 16v and the previous Integrale (8v) was the engine. The Delta’s 1995 cm³ inline-4 received a new 16 valves DOHC, permitting a smoother power curve. It also got a new and stronger 6-speed gearbox and more powerful brakes. The Delta Integrale 16v totally dominated the WRC, with Lancia taking home the championship in 1989, 1990 and 1991. Moreover, Lancia’s pilots won the drivers’ championship in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1991. Despite the Integrale 16v’s dominance, Toyota’s Celica was catching up, so Lancia had to wise up. By then, Fiat, Lancia’s parent company, gave the rally team a blank check, with orders to win no matter what. There was also speculation about Lancia stretching the rules, however nothing was ever proven. Nonetheless, all manufactures were doing so, with all cars easily over the 261 kW (300 hp) Group A limit.

Evo #4
By 1989, cars like the Toyota Celica GT-Four came to the scene to challenge the Delta.

So for the 1992 championship Lancia introduced the Delta HF Integrale Evo (“Evolution”). The “Deltona” or “Super Delta”, as the Italian press called it, was an exponential evolution over the 16v. Though improvements were discreet, a lot of the car received tweaks producing meaningful results. The Evo got a stiffer body, with wider wheel arches for bigger wheels. Lancia also improved brakes, suspension and aerodynamics, and the car got a more powerful engine. With the improvements, the Evo became 5 to 6% faster than the 16v in all situations. The first race for the Evo was the Monte Carlo Rally, from January 23rd to 30th. Martini Racing arrived at Monaco with two cars, the Integrale Evo #4 and #1. Piloted by Didier Auriol and Bernard Occelli, the Evo #4 finished in first place overall. At the end of the season, the Evo brought Lancia’s  sixth consecutive championship.

Evo #4
Without of factory support, in 1993 the Evo’s best result was second place on the Acropolis Rally.

Unfortunately though, in 1993 Lancia terminated its factory involvement in the WRC. In fact, 1992 was the last year for a Lancia Factory team in rallying. The Integrale Evo continued to race nonetheless, yet in the hands of privateers, like the Jolly Club team. However, by the end of the year, with no technical improvements, it became obsolete, and retired for good. Without a doubt, by any standard, the Lancia Delta was one of the greatest rally cars of all times. It was the car with most wins in all the history of the WRC, making Lancia the most successful manufacturer. And with the success that the Delta achieved in the WRC, it’s one of the most recognizable hatchbacks ever made.

Evo #4
Though you can find very nice Deltas from Ixo, for the Evo #4 Spark is the best option.

With all that, the Delta is an important piece in a rally collection. Evo #4 here, being from Spark, is absolutely awesome in scale. Yet, the big issue with it is that it’s hard to find and always expensive 🤑. Even though I found mine for a “good” price (or so-to-speak), it was far from cheap. The alternative is HPI, which is even more expensive, and Ixo. The Ixo version is an older mold, unhappily a far cry from their excellent current rally cars. So if you want the nicest version, it’s either Spark or HPI, and both will always be rare and NOT cheap 😖. However, at least with the Spark version, what a sweet model! And for me at least, a Martini Delta from Spark was a grail 😊.

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