Lancia Hyena: the car Fiat never wanted
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The Lancia Delta Integrale is one of the most iconic models the doomed marque ever conceived, thanks to its incredible rallying lineage during a time when the only thing bigger than the World Rally Championship crowd figures was the bravery of the moustachioed men behind the wheel.
But, did you know that a coachbuilding company thought they could make it better?
The company in question is Zagato; a company who’s been in the automotive game since the 1920s, who to this day continue to put their name on hand-crafted pieces of automotive machinery worldwide. Their latest creations include collaborations with the likes of Lamborghini, Aston Martin and motorcycle manufacturer MV Augusta.
But, this piece of work from the early ’90s remains a head scratcher...
What they did was take the chassis, power, and drivetrain, from an HF Integrale, and then turn the cubic hatchback into a two-door coupe with some new bodywork.
This all came about thanks to a classic car builder and collector by the name of Paul V.J Koot. The Dutchman decided that he didn’t want an Integrale hatchback; he wanted a coupe version instead. So, he turned to coach builder Zagato who then accepted the challenge to develop the Hyena. His first prototype broke cover in 1992.
A decision was soon made to put the car into limited production, but when Fiat heard of this they made their feelings very clear. They refused to have any involvement in the project at all, declining to supply Zagato with bare chassis’ to build their new creation.
But Koot was undeterred.
Instead of having the chassis supplied by Fiat, Koot went out and privately purchased fully finished HF Integrales by himself, had them stripped to a bare shell, before sending them to Zagato in Milan to have the newly developed bodies built for final assembly.
To Zagato’s credit, the bodywork is completely handmade from aluminium and the interior featured a new dashboard, console and door skins made from carbon fibre. The use of lightweight materials meant the new Hyena weighted in at an impressive 200kg lighter than an Integrale.
They also squeezed a few extra ponies out of the engine, increasing output from 202hp to 246hp (184 kW) — achieving 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds.
Originally a run of 75 Hyena’s were planned, but only 24 were ever completed between 1992 and 1993. This could be due to a price tag of 140,000 Swiss francs ($85,800NZD) – as much as a brand new Porsche 911 Carrera at the time.
But never underestimate a niche. This Hyena finished in Verde Zagato Green, pictured in this article, sold for an incredible €161,000 ($238,247NZD) last week in Paris. It’s believed to be the only model built in this hue, and was the 15th car on the production line to be finished.
Someone clearly appreciated the work of Zagato and Koot on this project — even though the polarising looks might not have seemed too rosy to others. But that’s what makes car culture great isn’t it? Like a piece of artwork, two individuals can take two very different messages away from the experience.
Excuse me while I track down a barf bag.