LANCIA DELTA

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Delta: a name that is a legend in motoring

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Delta: a name that is a legend in motoring
 

The Lancia Delta was created in the autumn of 1979 and was voted Car of the Year in 1980 by a panel of motoring journalists. With its up-to-date characterful body and high-performing engine, the model represented a generation leap in terms of the overall car concept and its engineering, aesthetic and quality aspects. Unsurprisingly, the car also met with immediate acclaim from the public, who found in the Delta all the excellent performance, attention to finish detail and material quality that they had come to expect from the great Lancia cars.

The pen of Giorgetto Giugiaro was responsible for the hatchback shape, conceived as a trapezoid shape with very angular outlines. Other brand-new features were front and rear shields incorporating the bumpers and produced in polyester resin reinforced with glass fibre.

The mechanical configuration was front wheel drive with a transverse engine, all round independent suspension, braking system with two crossover circuits and rack and pinion steering. Two power units were available at the launch: a 75 bhp 1.3 unit and a 85 bhp 1.5 bhp unit. Both featured a timing system with overhead camshaft driven by a toothed belt and a light alloy cylinder head.

The Delta's overall appearance was that of an elegant, compact car, just under four metres in length. The date was 1979 and the Delta, though only a medium-sized car, offered all the equipment of a top-class car as standard (power windows, for example). With its innovative styling and content typical of higher segments, Lancia had hit on a new compact car concept that immediate won both critical and public acclaim.
 

LANCIA DELTA

LANCIA DELTA

LANCIA DELTA
LANCIA DELTA


Production of the Delta began at the Lingotto plant in Turin and was then transferred to the Chivasso plant that housed one of the advanced paint shops in the world, an electronically-controlled body machining system and an automatic system to ensure absolutely uniform subunit quality. This plant was responsible for the personalised LX versions and, in 1982, a Delta GT with a 105 bhp 1.6 engine. The car was equipped with four disc brakes power-assisted by a brake servo and reached a top speed of 180 km/h.

In 1983, four years after the modelís debut, we welcomed the Delta HF Turbo, the first standard-production Lancia car equipped with a turbocharger. The engine was the same 1583 cc unit, but delivered a power output of 130 bhp that allowed a top speed of 190 bhp.

Three years later, in 1986, the model range was revived and extended by the 108 bhp Delta GT with electronic injection, the 80 bhp Turbodiesel 2.0, the HF Turbo injection (140 CV) and the HF 4WD. The latter, together with the Prisma 4WD, marked Lancia's first foray into the four wheel drive touring saloon sector. It was equipped with a 165 bhp two litre engine (208 km/h of top speed) and state-of-the-art mechanical components. The drive system consisted of a free front differential, an epicyclic central differential that distributed torque asymmetrically (56% to the front axle and 44% to the rear), a Ferguson viscous coupling applied to the central differential and a Torsen rear differential (Torsen is short for 'torque sensing'), a smart device that allowed torque to be distributed over both wheels according to the available grip, without ever allowing both half-axles to lock fully. In this way, the Delta HF 4WD was able to transfer all the engineís power effectively to the ground. The result was a car with great traction over slippery surfaces, offering excellent directional stability and road-holding at higher speeds. In later years, the four wheel drive Delta was enhanced by a long list of technical and stylistic improvements, mainly dictated by rally needs. Sporting versions of the Delta won no fewer than six world rally titles between 1987 and 1992. The Delta remained in production from 1979 to 1994 and its total production amounted to 480,000 cars.

Report & Photos: Fiat Group Automobiles