Forget the Evo II; this might be the most hardcore road-going Delta ever made
By Cam Tait / Sunday, 13 November 2022 / Loading comments
For those of us still flying the Lancia flag long after it dropped all motorsport commitments to focus on the Ypsilon, there’s a very good chance that your gateway to this brilliantly unorthodox brand was the Delta Integrale. Brimming with the rugged appeal of a rally machine and the unconditional desirability of an Italian exotic, it’s little wonder the Delta Integrale has maintained its image as the Lancia poster child nearly 30 years after being shelved. It is, to our eyes at least, utter perfection.
But it wasn’t for Paul Koot, who, in the early 1990s, was the official importer for Lancia in the Netherlands. He thought the Delta could be even better without its rear doors and seats, and with the iconic boxy look smoothed off somewhat. This was the early 90s, after all, and the round revolution that defined 2000s car design was over the horizon. So Koot called upon Zagato to create a car with all the twin-cam, all-wheel drive charm of the Integrale, only with a completely new design that would transform the five-door hatch into a svelte coupe.
The result was this: the Hyena Zagato. It looked unlike anything Lancia produced at the time, with its ultra-curvy panels harking back to the Fulvia Zagato of the early 70s. Aluminium alloy body panels were built by hand over a steel structure, a lighter variant of the architecture used on the regular Delta. This resulted in a 50 per cent improvement in rigidity over the Delta, while the use of composite materials for the doors and bumpers helped bring the weight down. Figures vary on how much Zagato was able to save, ranging from 120kg to as much as 200kg, as claimed by the ad.
Under its sleek new skin is the same running gear as the HF Integrale Evo, meaning a 2.0-litre twin-cam four-cylinder turbo engine. In the Hyena, power was upped from 210hp to 250hp, with a 0-62mph run taking just 5.4 seconds – 0.3 seconds faster than the original Evo. The five-speed manual from the Delta was carried over, accessed through a chrome ball-top gear lever – possibly the only bit of glamour inside. Even though it had been designed (at great expense) by one of Italy’s leading design firms, the interior was utterly spartan. Most of the plastic trim was replaced with carbon fibre, while Veglia Borletti dials were swapped out for off-the-shelf gauges found in home-brewed rally cars.
A luxury car, the Hyena was not. Factor in a £74,000 price tag – or £160,000 in today’s money – and numerous back-and-forths over rights to use the Lancia name, and the Hyena became limited through circumstance rather than intention. Koot’s initial plans were to produce 600 examples of the Hyena, which shrank to 75 once the bills started to rack up. In the end, only 24 cars were delivered, making the Hyena one of the rarest cars to wear the Lancia crest.
That’s why it caught us by complete surprise to see one appear in the classifieds. And if a Hyena has ever been on your radar, this is the one to go for. It’s chassis 002, which underwent some minor modifications during the build process including additional noise insulation in the rear. No wonder the previous owners managed to cover 16,000 miles in it. Since then, it’s been fitted with a beefier Garett turbocharger, Koni sports dampers and real-time engine mapping, so it should pack an almighty punch. The price? Well, it’s POA. But there will surely be a group of wealthy Lancia diehards waiting for a Hyena to appear. Now is the time to pounce.
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