Heavy Metal Affliction - 1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Evolution 1
The late 1980s and early 1990s were a golden age for automobiles. It was the age of the Ferrari Testarosssa, the Lamborghini Countach, or the Porsche 930 poster on your wall. It was the age of shows like Miami Vice and the Dukes of Hazzard where, depending on your taste, you could get your fill of horsepower through rabbit ears. The racing was furious and developments in technology made for huge gains in a cars potential.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in the past entirely, and who can deny the excitement of cars like the LaFerrari or the Porsche 919 create? It was different though; I want to use the word visceral. The only nanny a car had was ABS, the coming of AWD to passenger cars was a thing, and more than 200 horsepower in a hot hatch was nearly unheard of.
Thanks to the glory days of the World Rally Championship (WRC) – and the cars of the ill-fated but spectacular Group B and its evolution, Group A – we got cars like the Toyota Celica All-Trac, the Subaru WRX, the Audi Quattro, and many more. There was also a Fiat subsidiary called Lancia, and what they did in WRC with their car the Delta Integrale left a mark that has yet to be topped.
I joke with Kevin Flynn – Gamertag Comrade Flynn – that his 1991 Lancia Delta Integrale Evolution 1 is the best looking wide-body Volkswagen Rabbit I have seen. It’s a shameful joke when you consider the Integrale’s accomplishments though. First produced in 1979 and sold in Sweden as the Saab-Lancia 600, it was dubbed the European Car of the Year at the time.
Later versions, like the one you see here, went on to win the WRC Constructor’s Championship a record six times in a row, collecting 46 victories along the way and driver’s championships for drivers Juha Kankkunen and Miki Biason four of those years. It was the age of homologation rules, one of the greatest things to happen to production cars that has since ceased.
It’s like when stock car racing used to race production cars: you could watch these cars win on Sunday and go buy one on Monday. Look in the rear compartment of Flynn’s Integrale Evolution 1 and you will see the bottle that held water to spray down the radiator for racing. That’s how close to the real race car these production models were.
“The WRC cars were always sort of the forbidden fruit for us Americans,” Flynn said. He has wanted one for years to fill the driver-focused category in his garage. He has owned a wide range of cars, including a 2005 Noble M400 on down to several V8s and a good selection of imports. At present he has just the right balance of everything: a 2003 Lamborghini Murcielago (LP640 Conversion), a 2011 BMW 335is, a 2016 Ford Focus RS, a 1994 Toyota Supra Turbo, and now the Integrale Evolution 1.
Each of these cars ticks a box. The Lambo is a naturally-aspirated V12 road lord, the BMW (his wife’s car) is a perfect daily or track car, the Focus RS is perfect at the limit and represents Ford doing something awesome in an age where enthusiasts cars are rare, and the Supra is that bit of import “unobtainium” that delivers turbo lag like only a car from its age can. Flynn says it best: “I really love cars that take different methods towards the goal of going fast.“
I met Flynn through the Avants car club when I saw a post from him saying he won the auction to buy the Integrale from BringaTrailer.com. As he mentioned, you just don’t see these cars, even here in Seattle where exotics are fairly commonplace. When he bit on the idea of being featured in Heavy Metal Affliction, I knew seeing and driving his Integrale would soon be in the books.
Call him lucky and you would be right, but Flynn isn’t some trust funder out plundering the rare car market. He got his start back in college when after a night of drinking with friends he created the Peanut Butter and Jelly time video. The Lambo’s license plate reads “PBJTYME” honoring what gave him his seed money to start his own business.
Having the right partner makes this garage possible too. Flynn met his wife through Yahoo! chatrooms years ago, and their first date was to play racing games. They make all the car buying decisions together, she comes to all his track days – about one a month – and she in fact pushed the button on buying the Integrale. Relationship advice from Flynn makes sense to me: “It’s really important to get a partner that shares your passions.”
Being the “Peanut Butter and Jelly Time guy” means being featured in Heavy Metal Affliction isn’t Flynn’s first dab at internet fame. There is another interesting story that got him noticed. When he ordered his Focus RS, delivery was scheduled, then delayed, then delayed again and he was left wondering where his RS was.
Of course he was anxious to get his car, and wondering what was happening, so he posted his story on Reddit. Next thing you know there was a story on Jalopnik. Within an hour of that story going out, the Ford VP of Communications called him, the car was found soon after and delivered. As a reminder of that nuanced delivery ordeal, that car’s license plate reads “FOUNDIT.”
In today’s era with WRC cars turning 600 hp into 0-60 times in less than two seconds, the six second 0-60 time of the Integrale may make it seem slow. Flynn recently drove a Camaro ZL1 and it was so fast he could even feel it. In his words, “I’d rather drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow.”
Not that the Integrale is slow by any means, it’s acceleration is only a second off the Countach or the 930 Turbo of the same period, and the big difference is you can fling the Integrale into a gravel corner at that speed and it will sling its way where you point it. Flynn told me with the budget he had they could have bought one entry-level new super car or a unique set of older ones. I don’t think anyone would question that he and his wife made the right choices.