The first of this new breed was the 182bhp Integrale 8v but, emboldened by the model’s continuing success in rallies, Lancia replaced it in 1989 with the 16-valve version, producing 197bhp and with a revised torque split in favour of the rear wheels. It also sat 20mm lower and had larger wheels all round.
Then in 1991 came the first of the even wider-bodied and wider-wheeled Evoluzione versions. First out was the 207bhp Evo 1, followed in 1993 by the almost identical Evo 2, although it had 16in as opposed to 15in alloy wheels and, to counter the drag of its catalytic converter, 212bhp. Both spawned a host of special editions.
Integrales were never cheap to run when new, but now that most are pushing 30, you can throw in a refurb bill, too. Not only that but there are also rogues out there. For example, for a long time, they were bought by people who tried to pass 8vs off as 16vs, and Evo 1s as Evo 2s. Others bodged right-hand-drive conversions, although, saying that, even a proper conversion is not as quick or direct as the pukka lefthand-drive set-up.
There’s a good market for Japanese imports, even though it can be hard to check the car’s service history. Going in the other direction, Germany and the US are busily hoovering up our best cars and, in the process, driving prices higher still. So if you want one, don’t hang around.
How to get one in your garage
An expert’s view
Steve Shaw, service manager, Walkers Garage: “I’ve been working on Integrales ever since the model first went rallying. I’ve owned two or three, although I admit I bought them to sell. There’s nothing like an Integrale to drive. When they’re good, they’re very good, but I have to say that when they’re bad, they’re horrible! Regular servicing is the key to keeping an Integrale sweet. Do that and things like the engine and transmission will be reliable. You can expect to find some rust, cracks in the body and tired suspension bushes, but get those sorted and with export demand very strong, you can expect to get your money back, plus some.”
■ Engine: Look for oil leaks from the upper sump gasket. Beware camshaft failure, especially exhaust cam lobes worn down by metal filings in the oil bath. Cambelt and water pump are best changed every three years. Exhaust smoke could be the turbo but more likely caused by worn valve guides. In cars that have been standing for long periods, the rubber fuel pump mount dissolves and blocks the pump.
■ Transmission: Check for leaks from the rear diff and epicyclic gear noise from the front diff. Old fluid in the viscous coupling can cause engagement problems. Fifth gear’s brass synchro cones wear and third gear can simply break.