The undying popularity of the legendary Lancia Delta Integrale has reportedly moved executives at parent company Fiat Chrysler to call for the development of a new model.
Introduced in the early 1980s as a hugely modified and rally-ready version of the regular Delta, the Integrale dominated the dirt for years, winning six WRC Constructor Championships in a row from 1987 to 1992.
Unsurprisingly, the Integrale badge also dominated the hearts and minds of motoring enthusiasts, with road-going versions notching up nearly 45,000 sales before its retirement in 1994.
It’s that enduring ‘virtual’ success that has reportedly inspired highly-placed Fiat Chrysler executives to petition CEO Sergio Marchionne for a new model.
The Lancia brand as a whole is nearing the end of the road, with Marchionne making no secret of plans to wind down the Italian brand, which will turn 110 next year.
According to the UK’s Autocar, insiders at Fiat Chrysler have revealed that although there is little desire to make any significant investment in rebuilding the Lancia brand, it is hoped that Marchionne will see wisdom in capitalising on the Integrale’s massive brand cachet among enthusiasts.
It is more likely however that Marchionne will view any Lancia-related project as little more than a distraction from the bigger goal of relaunching Alfa Romeo as a top-shelf premium brand, among other key targets in Fiat Chrysler’s recently revealed five-year business strategy.
The Delta Integrale is not the only model to have been the focus of hopes for a rebirth, with a stunning 'New Stratos' prototype revealed in 2010.
Developed by wealthy enthusiast Michael Stoschek and legendary styling house Pininfarina, the Ferrari 430-based prototype drew praise from all quarters, including former Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo.
With around 40 expressions of interest from would-be buyers, it was hoped that management would consent to a limited production run of the reborn Stratos.
But, despite di Montezemolo's positive response, it was ultimately decided that Ferrari would not support - and in fact would actively block - any efforts to put the car into production.