Lancia Delta HF Turbo | Spotted

Heard the one about the Lancia Delta as a front-drive, RHD hot hatch hero? Read on…

By Matt Bird / Thursday, 23 November 2023 / Loading comments

Never has the collective memory of a car been so dominated by the reputation of one model like the Lancia Delta. It feels almost impossible to say without tacking ‘Integrale’ on the end, as if that was the only one ever to exist. Then perhaps adding ‘Evo I’, ‘Evo II’, ‘Martini 5’, ‘Verde York’, ‘Club Italia’, ‘Edizione Finale’… you get the picture. To many, the Integrale is the Lancia Delta, and vice versa. 

With good reason, too. Four-wheel drive, turbocharged Lancia hatches famously dominated rallying for a very long time, and were adored by fast car enthusiasts for even longer – still are, in fact. It was the original hyper-hatch, it could be argued, and perfectly demonstrated why compact dimensions, turbo torque, good visibility and four-wheel drive work so well in Britain. Helped that it looked the business, too. 

But the Delta had existed for years before the four-wheel drive models were sold, as just another family hatch like the VW Golf. This being the 1980s, moreover, Lancia thought a hot hatch version of the Delta might be a good idea. With a turbo, of course, as was the style at the time. And so, in 1985, the Delta HF was born. That was for High Fidelity, like a Stratos. Power from the forced induction 1.6 was up to 130hp; not much compared to those later 2.0-litres, but enough to be getting on with in something so light. A Golf GTI Mk2 was 139hp, don’t forget. Then, in 1986, it became the Delta HF Turbo, ahead of the Delta HF 4WD assuming top-dog status and completely redefining hot hatch (and rally car) expectations. 

This lovely example is a 1989 HF Turbo; it should come as no surprise given one glance at the pics to find the ad stating it’s an award-winning car. It’s genuinely hard to imagine many cars of any description from 1989 looking this good, let alone what would have been a fairly ordinary hot hatch. The original owner, a Lancia Car Club UK member, sounds like exactly the kind of person you’d want doting on a Delta; having bought it from Bauer Millett new in August 1989, they had the rust protection applied at two years old (the good old days of build quality, eh), always serviced the car at a brand specialist, and kept every receipt. They owned the car from 1989 until 2022, and the effort invested in keeping the Delta in the best condition possible is plain to see. It’s really a credit to all that hard work.

With so few non-Integrales now left (thank heavens this was protected against the rot), the little HF Turbo is even more interesting than ever. Slightly ironic, of course, that the plain old front-drive 1.6 is now a rarer sight than the super duper homologation specials, but that’s just how Delta history has evolved. Not so long ago, cars like this might not have seemed worth saving because they weren’t Integrales. Thankfully that wasn’t going to happen here with the original owner. 

The price is POA, and it would have to be assumed that an HF Turbo this well-kept will be safely into four-wheel drive money now. Probably very good Integrale money, in fact. With the reputation of the hero model not budging an inch thanks to a glut of restomod homages, this Delta will always have niche appeal. But to anyone who gets it, what a glorious example and opportunity presents itself here. Even has the steering wheel on the correct side.


Engine: 1,585cc, four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 140@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 141@3,500rpm
CO2: N/A
Year registered: 1989
Recorded mileage: 48,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £POA

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