Friday, 26 October 2007

NEW review -Lancia Delta HF Integrale

Review by Adrian Walmsley for the Classic Rally Club, October 2007

This superb hardback is a welcome addition to the series of books published by Veloce Publishing in the UK about classic rally cars. Its large format (260 x 260mm) makes it very easy reading for all, including the old and frail. It comprises 208 pages with well-written and informative text and 400 superb colour illustrations of the highest quality. More importantly, this writer does not recall seeing any of the illustrations before. They include great candid shots of some of the characters who contributed so much to the success of this legendary car.

The progenitor of the Integrale, the humble Delta sedan, is covered only briefly to good effect. The formidable S4, in both rally and stradale forms is given due coverage, but the bulk of the book deals with the evolution of the car itself. There is fairly brief commentary on the various rally successes, but details of modifications from model to model are fully set out. For a change, the influence of the Abarth factory is given its due, which many writers seem to overlook entirely. As is well-known, Abarth was also absorbed into the Fiat empire, but it continued as before for several years and was critical to the success of the Integrale. There are several detailed cutaway drawings of various models, the only illustrations in black and white.

The book includes coverage of all the prototypes and limited editions, but this is limited to 2 pages on each, so there can be no suggestion the book gets bogged down in the differences in trim details. Happily, there are 6 pages on the glorious Hyena. All the rally results are listed from 1972 with the Fulvia to 1999. The actual cars, and what they each achieved, are also listed by registration and, where available, chassis number. The full technical details of each model are set out clearly and the seasons, with the different cars, are covered, not in absolute detail, but more in the nature of a readable overview.
The photographs include many great action shots, but also detailed pictures of relevant parts of the cars, including the interiors. In all this is a very readable book of high quality. It should not, however, be confused in any way with the excellent one by that Lancia authority, Nigel Trow, where absolute detail is given to each event and where the bulk of the photos are in black and white, there being a small colour section in the middle. The books virtually comprise the same number of pages, but are very different in approach. The latter is a book to which you would go in order to settle disputes about fine detail in any of the events. Blaettel and Wagner’s is a book you would go to constantly for sheer pleasure.

An unexpected pleasure is to find recollections by Ninni Russo and Juha Kankkunen. This includes humourous and telling candid pictures of the people.
That the book is a must for Lancisti goes without saying, but it is also a great read for anyone with interest in Abarth or Fiat, or indeed for any Italian car fan or rally enthusiast. It is highly recommended. This book is excellent value having regard to its content and quality.