What is it?
It’s a Lancia Hyena – essentially a Delta HF Integrale Evo 1 sporting purposeful fastback coupé bodywork designed by none other than Zagato, the history-steeped design house from Milan.
In light of the Delta’s extraordinary success on the world rallying stage, Zagato’s then-designer Marco Pedracini reportedly felt obliged to spice up the hatchback’s styling in a manner more befitting of its sporting prowess. With such a rich heritage, the quintessential Zagato design cues were plentiful. Double-bubble roof, anyone?
Is the Hyena’s beauty skin-deep?
Absolutely not. Since its inception over 100 years ago, lightness has always been a pillar around which Zagato operates. The Hyena does not stray from the trend. Its sleek, poised and purposeful body is crafted entirely from aluminium. Throw in an interior festooned with carbon-fibre, and you’ve got a dry weight of just 1,150kg – around 200kg lighter than the production Delta HF Integrale Evo 1.
Sounds like a recipe for commercial success – was it?
Not quite. Zagato suggested to Lancia that 500 Hyenas could be built and sold, but a complicated and expensive build process ultimately put the Fiat Group off and just 24 examples were completed with the assistance of the Dutch Lancia importer Paul Koot.
Could you tell us about the early history of this particular Hyena?
An English banker after an exciting yet comfortable car in which to travel between his English and Italian residences originally acquired this Hyena, the second of just 24 built. Prior to taking delivery, a number of thoughtful modifications were made to the car with a view to increasing engine power to 300bhp, including installing a gas-flowed cylinder head and a tubular exhaust manifold.
“It’s also worth noting that this is the only Lancia Hyena of the 24 produced homologated with the Delta HF Integrale’s original rear seats.”
In light of its increased performance and long-distance requirements, cross-drilled brakes were also fitted in addition to a larger 90-litre competition fuel tank (good for a 450-mile range) and an upgraded stereo system. It’s also worth nothing that this is the only Hyena homologated with the Delta’s original rear seats.
Number 002 changed hands in October of 2004, the car’s second owner picking up where the first left off and promptly making some changes. Mavcorse Preparazione Sportive in Milan was entrusted with carrying out the work, which included refinishing the Zagato coachwork in the stunning dual-layer shade of black (the original shade of the Delta donor car) and adding a layer of noise-reducing Teknofibra insulation beneath the interior.
A French collector acquired this Hyena in 2012, further enhancing the car’s already impressive performance with a Garrett GT28 turbocharger, Koni Yellow sports dampers, real-time engine mapping and an adjustable twin-piston pop-off valve, among others. He retained the car until 2018, which is when we had the privilege of selling it to its current owner United Kingdom-based owner. During his four-year tenure as 002’s owner, he has re-registered the car in the UK and enjoyed using it in the manner in which its former owners clearly intended. The odometer currently reads 26,200km.
So, with all these modifications, what’s this Lancia Hyena like to drive?
The Hyena has one of those Jekyll-and-Hyde characters – civilised and comfortable, but with the palpable underlying sense that there’s potent performance waiting to be deployed. If the bespoke OMP Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel and swathe of glossy carbon-fibre which surrounds the cosy yet surprisingly airy cabin doesn’t signal the car’s sporting intentions, then a sustained shove on the throttle pedal most definitely will. The turbo boost is urgent and catapults the car forward with astonishing gusto.
The Hyena’s crash Zagato diet combined with this example’s increased power output means the power-to-weight ratio is comparable to a 991-generation Porsche 911 Carrera S. It’s no slouch when the going gets twisty, either – the short wheelbase and incredibly direct steering as a result of the sportier Koni dampers make this car a joy to thread through corners, especially medium-speed sweepers. All the while there is nothing to suggest that this wouldn’t make for a perfectly happy long-distance loper – visibility is great, the seats are supple and comfortable, the stereo works a treat and the air-conditioning is not as asthmatic as you’d expect of an Italian sports car of this era.
What is there in the way of documentation?
A fantastic history file accompanies this Hyena, comprising everything from the car’s factory Certificate of Origin, spare key and original Lancia user manuals to period photos of the car when it was displayed at Zagato’s Milan headquarters and copies of the model’s press correspondence. There is also a wealth of invoices documenting the extensive modifications made to the car and the fastidious maintenance bestowed upon it over the years, right up to the present day.
Sell it me in a sentence…
The idiosyncratic and ultra-rare Hyena embodies the very best of two Italian automotive history’s greatest names, Lancia and Zagato, and this thoughtfully enhanced example is arguably among the ultimate Delta HF Integrales from a performance driving perspective – a glorious 1990s what-might-have-been.