I’m not anti-technology. I say that because a month ago I came up with a fat list of sweet used rides you could buy for the same price as a new Ford Focus RS, and I’m about to suggest another one - the Lancia Delta HF Integrale.
I realise the Focus is pretty awesome. Okay, way awesome. I’ve had a little bit of seat time in one and thoroughly enjoyed it, but the whole time I still couldn’t shake some feeling of disappointment.
Same thing happened to me last weekend after putting 700 miles on a brand new Ford Fusion. It had plenty of power and seemed to handle OK, but it just didn’t have any soul. Everything was automated, right down to the lane assist that would tug the wheel a bit if I slowly drifted to the edge of the road.
Sure, I could turn most of those functions off, and I did. But I still didn’t feel like I was driving the actual car, you know? I think that’s the same sensation I get with the Focus, even though it has a proper manual gearbox. Every time I select one of the driving modes, I’m reminded that I’m talking not to the car, but the car’s interpreter.
Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to this Delta HF Integrale, currently selling on eBay in Florida for a reserve-not-met price of $12,675, or just a touch over £10,000. Its gas pedal is connected to the engine via cable; power goes to all four wheels via mechanical bits, and the driving mode depends entirely upon the current song on the radio, and whether or not the driver had an extra cup of coffee during breakfast.
Lets take a look at this example. Per the seller it’s showing only 39,249 miles and is in excellent overall condition. Those of you who catch my occasional found in the classifieds articles know how much I love to thrash sellers for stupid ads, but this time I have nothing to offer.
The auction is filled with pictures of everything you’d want to see, right down to close-ups of interior controls and suspension bits. The description is thorough without being overindulgent in lame marketing speak. There aren’t multiple rows of exclamation points or promises of heightened sexual attraction for persons behind the wheel. CTzens, if you want to sell a car on the internet, this is how you do it.
And what a car to sell! Apologies to the rest of the world for fanboying out here, but we never got the Delta in America. It seems everyone else right now in this neck of the world is charging themselves up over imported R32 Skylines, so nice Deltas are harder to come by. And this is a full-on HF Integrale 16V, which means 200 turbocharged horses shoving that chunky styling through the air, working all four wheels to nab 60mph in about five and a half seconds.
The seller says this one has an upgraded exhaust and adjustable Koni struts, but suspects some other mods because it’s “by far the quickest Integrale” they’ve ever had.
I love how understated the exterior is on this car. There are no wings or spoilers off the back, no Martini-inspired graphics, no oversized wheels. And another import rarity for us in the States - like all Integrales it’s a left-hand drive car. I’m not snobbish or anything when it comes to left or right-hand drive, but not being able to see oncoming traffic because you’re stuck on the wrong side of the car is a complete buzzkill. Anyone who’s driven a classic left-hand drive American muscle car on the streets north of London will attest to that.
Yes, a new Ford Focus RS would literally and figuratively drive rings around this Delta. But for its current bid price I’d have it every day of the week over the Ford. Looking up the seller’s website it’s listed for $28,000 or about £22,000, and I’d still have it over the RS at that price. Why? For a fun car like this, I don’t need active blindspot automated mirror dimming seat control assist to get from point A to point B.
Nor do I want such things in my fun car. When I step the rear out in an exquisite drift, I want to take full credit for it. When I clip a perfect apex, I want to know it was because of my mad skill and not computer-controlled adjustments. Not that such driving isn’t superbly entertaining - it absolutely is. But the Delta HF Integrale has soul, and to me, that still matters a bit more than technology.