This Lancia Delta Integrale Can Be Seen Climbing The Northern Mountain Roads Of Spain
Photography by Javier Lus
A turbocharged, manual, all-wheel-drive, Italian hatchback with exaggerated box flares. What’s not to love about the Lancia Delta Integrale? The homologated rally hero is an icon from the the golden era of rally. It’s a foreign fruit many stateside petrolheads have dreamt of owning, but have had to wait 25 years to import.
Thankfully, enthusiasts like Pablo Regueiro don’t mind sharing their Lancias with us deprived Americans. Clean and tastefully modified, Pablo’s brilliant red Integrale has been a lifelong dream come to fruition thanks to hard work and an unyielding search for the ideal machine. Here’s the speedy Spaniard’s automotive story.
Andrew Golseth: Pablo, how’d a 27-year-old grow up lusting for an old turbocharged Lancia hatchback?
Pablo Regueiro: Well, my love of cars started when I was about 5 years old. My father has always been an Italian car lover; every month, my dad would come home and bring me a toy car. They’d always be Italian cars, whether it was a Ferrari, Lancia, Maserati, etc. Whatever it was, it was Italian.
Around that time, my father bought a 1.6-liter Lancia Delta GT, i.e. the non-turbo model. I really loved that car. I remember it very fondly, especially all the great memories I have of it with my father. So as the years went on my passion for cars only grew, and I ended up studying mechanical design in school.
I started to work at races on the weekend because I loved rallying, and I got my FIA Scrutineer License some years ago, which is a qualification for checking cars for safety and eligibility at the beginning of a racing event. Since then I’ve been working here and there at rally races in the north of Spain. As for full-time work, when I finished my studies I got my dream job working for a turbocharger company here in Pamplona; we are working with BMW, PSA, and some other cool companies.
So, when I started earning some money I told my father I was going to buy a Lancia Delta Integrale. At first, he told me I was crazy because it’s a very expensive car to maintain and they’re hard to find in Spain in good condition to begin with, but I had the idea set in mind at that point. That was my moment to buy my dream car because I hadn’t yet bought a house or gotten financially tied up in other things yet—this was the best time to do something like this.
And one day I just showed up at home with the car. I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face when he saw it! (laughs)
AG: Where did you find the car? I understand that finding a good example is becoming a challenge these days.
PR: I began my search immediately as I started working. In Spain, it’s really difficult to find a good example because most of them were used in rallies or racing at some point in their lives. Most people just used them to race and didn’t really care for them like you would a nice street car. I spent many months trying to find a nice Integrale; I was honestly beginning to think it would be impossible to find a good car.
So, I decided to put out an advertisement saying that I was interested in buying a clean one, specifically stating that I preferred a red 16-valve model. Two weeks after posting the ad, a man from Santa Maria de Palautordera (next to Barcelona) called me. He talked about how he was a classic car mechanic and said he had a clean red 16-valve Integrale that had only minor issues and that he needed to sell it.
He was in a bit of a hurry—I could tell he wanted to get it out of there fast. I was a little skeptical of this urgency, but, it was a one-owner car and seemed pretty good, so I told him I’d be there in a week. I went with a friend of mine on the 600-kilometer drive to see the car, and when we arrived, of course, it was raining pretty heavily in the area. The car was parked on the street where it had been for a few months, but it was in surprisingly good condition in spite of that.
One great thing about the mechanic, he pulled the car into his garage, gave my friend and I lights, gave us everything we needed, and said, “You can look through every corner of the car, everything, by yourself.” Then he left us alone in the garage so we could thoroughly look the car over. We scrutinized it for more than an hour. That was a really wonderful thing. It showed me he had nothing to hide.
AG: That’s how all good car transactions should be handled. Now that you own this one, can you tell me a little more about it?
PR: Sure, it’s a 1990 HF Integrale 16-valve with just one owner who sold it because he was getting older—I believe he was about 70. So, I’m the second owner, which is pretty hard to do today considering this car’s age.
AG: That’s definitely a plus. Did you drive it home?
PR: No, I had it towed the 600 kilometers back to Pamplona because I didn’t want anything to break on the car in an unfamiliar place. We’d looked everything over very closely, but I still didn’t want to take the risk of driving it that far without getting it home first.
When I finally got the Lancia home, the first thing was to go over all the maintenance items. I gave it a full service including a new timing belt and all the usual fluids and brake pads, etc. This way, it gave the car a version of a new life. Sort of like starting over at square one with my ownership.
AG: Good call. I see you’ve done a few modifications; what have you changed or added to the car?
PR: When I got it, it was entirely original, but I had an idea, a vision on how I wanted it to look; I wanted a little more of the rally style. For example, I sourced a set of original 16-inch gunmetal Speedline Corse Monte Carlo wheels. I always took into account the originality of the car and tried to keep everything period-correct when selecting parts.
I installed a SCARA73 performance exhaust system, an Italian rally trademark from Abarth and Lancia specialists. I also found some Integrale “Final Edition” parts, which was the last model for the Japanese market made at the very end of the Lancia Delta’s production.
The Final Edition had a lot of unique pieces on it that were never put on any of the Delta models built beforehand. So, from a Final Edition, I installed a set of 3-centimeter-lowering springs, the rear strut bar, and a short shift kit with a carbon fiber shifter surround.
I also installed a Sparco front strut bar and an original Martini Edition MOMO steering wheel. I had the seats reupholstered to mimic the seat covers on the rally versions of the Integrale, which were dark grey cloth with the Martini logo on the seatbacks. Otherwise it’s stock, and I’m very happy with the way it is currently set up.
AG: I appreciate your restraint—so many go overboard with turbocharged cars. I take it you’re satisfied with the stock power output?
PR: Yes and now I’m happy with how the car looks too. I’m making some small mods, focused on the same period-correct discipline I’ve been doing the whole time. Otherwise, I don’t want to modify the engine at the moment. I really love driving it and it’s very difficult, for me, to utilize everything the car offers, power- and performance-wise.
With my other car (my daily driver 1.6-liter Volkswagen Golf with 120-horsepower) it’s very easy to maximize the power and performance of that car, to drive it close to its limits, as they say. With this one, the Lancia, it’s really a challenge to completely exhaust its stock capabilities. So, at the moment I’m very happy with it and don’t feel the need to modify the engine to make it any faster than it is already.
AG: It certainly looks the part, and I see that you’ve tracked the car. Is that a regular occurrence?
PR: I used to go to some classic car-specific track days, but I mainly drive it on mountain roads. Every weekend with a group of gearhead friends, we go drive the northern mountain roads of Spain; that’s plenty of fun.
It’s pretty much the weekend car, but occasionally I’ll take it out during the week. Sometimes after work my head feels like it’s about to explode, so I go to the garage, get in the Lancia, and head off to the back roads alone and use it as a sort of therapy.
AG: Nothing beats a good drive to ease and clear the mind. Do you have any favorite aspects of the car, while driving it or otherwise?
PR: My favorite thing about my Integrale is that every time I drive it I get strong feelings: I get flashbacks of all these childhood memories I have of my father in his Lancia. Having that connection to these cars is very special to me, and I’m reminded of it every time I get in my own.
On the driving aspects, the thing I love most is the way it accelerates when you leave a really tight corner. The traction is so powerful; you can feel the car pushing from everywhere. The all-wheel-drive gives you such immense feedback, making you feel so connected to the road.
It’s really, really difficult to make the wheels spin because it has so much grip. I just love how fast it can go through tight corners. That’s where it really shines.
AG: What else makes driving a Lancia Delta Integrale so special?
PR: When you drive a one, you have to focus on that, the driving. You don’t have a choice, you can’t think of anything else. You can’t think or dwell on your problems. When you drive this car, you totally disconnect from everything. The car demands your full attention. It requires everything from you and I’m happy to give it.
AG: Sounds similar to why we all love vintage cars; I know what you mean. So, do you have any big future plans involving the Lancia?
PR: Our little group of friends, since we’re a tight group and all way into cars, is planning on going to the Nürburgring later this year. I’ve never been to the ‘Ring and haven’t driven the Integrale much farther than a 300-kilometer trip, so a 1,300-kilometer expedition to the ‘Ring with friends should be a great experience!