Car of 1979: Lancia Delta
Lancia had been generally thought of as the Italian BMW before the Beta’s rusting reputation put paid to that. In 1979, the Fiat-owned company bounced back with a winner, the Delta, which was voted European Car of the Year 1980.
Despite their similarity to the Strada/Ritmo, Deltas looked and felt relatively upmarket, with allindependent suspension and 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre engines much breathed on by Lancia engineers with a different inlet manifold and twin carbs.
All this was of little consequence because, to most of us, the word ‘Delta’ means one thing: the amazing Integrale, with its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and permanent four-wheel drive. The result was a unique blend of performance and communicative handling.
The Integrale didn’t join the range until 1987, of course. In 1979, though, all you had was the standard Delta. Minus rust, of course.