In a bit of change to this week’s celebration of the 2015 Festival of Speed theme, we’re not going to celebrate a particular driver or event, but a car.
The internet is awash with lists compiled by fans and reviewers of the greatest ever rally cars. To our surprise, it appears that the Lancia Delta Integrale is rarely considered to be up there with the likes of the Mk2 Escort, Peugeot 205T16 or Audi Quattro.
Certainly, there are a number of ways to consider a given car’s greatness, but we still reckon that the case for the Delta as one of the greatest ever is a sturdy one. It won six consecutive manufacturer’s titles in the hands of three different drivers and the car that won the last was a straight evolution of the first. Peugeot (206), Citroen (Xsara and C4), Volkswagen (Polo R) and Lancia (Stratos) have won three on the bounce with the same car, but the Delta’s achievement in the face of determined competition from the likes of Toyota stands alone and might not ever be bettered.
But above the honours the car earned, it stands out as the machine which dragged rallying kicking-and-screaming from the tragic ashes of Group B and into the Nineties. Just look at the footage in this clip. See how attacks sticky tarmac and loose surfaces with the same poise, regardless of whos driving. And as for the way it negotiates hairpins …
Yep, we reckon that the Integrale deserves its place at-or-near the head of the table when it comes to decreeing which are the best rally cars ever made. As for the rest of the contenders, we’ll leave that conversation for another time!