Some people say that there are no “aspirational vehicles” any more. No cars that a serious motoring enthusiast can really aspire to, really want. No cars that, when you see one drive past you on the road, make you say: “I want that car! I gotta have one!”
Yeah, I guess it’s true in a way. And certainly for me, when I look at most modern cars, with their regulated, semi-egg-shaped bodies, their narrow, darkly tinted side and rear windows, and their meaningless body panel press lines, I don’t feel myself really wanting, strongly wanting, what the car makers are offering me today.
But when I see a nice clean Lancia Delta Integrale drive by me on the roads here in Japan (and I see more than just a few, especially when I go to Fuji Speedway or the classic car meet at Atami every year.), I definitely think: “I want that! I want an Integrale!”
I’ve been privileged to have had a number of excellent sports and performance cars, and I’m at that point now in my motoring career when I’m getting pretty picky about what car I’d go for next; but certainly the Delta Integrale turns my crank.
The Lancia Delta Integrale, and especially the 16v and the Evoluzione and Evoluzione-II (and the late ‘80s Delta HF and the Integrale 8v, too) really caught on in Japan, and they come up for sale now pretty consistently at the specialist used car dealers here and even at the Japanese used car auctions. Their popularity with Japanese sports car fans is no surprise, of course, since the ten-time WRC rally champion (and eleven times the winner at Monte Carlo) has the handling, braking, and power characteristics that make it a natural to conquer Japan’s twisty mountain roads while ensuring that you can pass and stay ahead of the pack on the highways here, too. And the Integrale’s all-wheel-drive system (56 percent of torque to the front wheels, 44 to the rear for the HF, changed to 47/53 front/rear for the 16v, unlike my Celica GT-4 with its 50/50 split) means that a snowy mountain road does not mean that the fun has come to an end.
And the AWD system on an Integrale guarantees that all that turbo power which the 2-liter straight-four engine is pumping out (like 212hp at a nice 5,750/rpm for an Evo-2) goes right to the road with no wheel slip or traction limitation; so you’re getting solid 0-60 times of well under six seconds with a 16v, an Evoluzione, or an Evoluzione-II
And the car is essentially compact, being based as it is on Giugiaro’s original Lancia Delta, a compact car with engine sizes ranging from 1.1 to 1.6 liters. So these cars are not road hogs; and, for what you are getting (AWD, turbo, reinforced chassis, etc.) they are not particularly heavy. A Delta HF Integrale 16v comes in at 1,300kgs kerb weight. My GT-4 was 1,380kgs and felt heavy sometimes, but my Impreza WRX STi, Version-3 weighed the same as an Integrale 16v and it felt noticeably lighter than the Celica. (Of course, it wasn’t just the lack of those 80kgs that made the difference, the Impreza had a better suspension system, and the Delta Integrale is even better still.)
So with the Integrale you’re getting the power, you’re getting that power to the road, you’re getting the handling to enjoy the road, and you’re getting the breaking to keep it all safe and happy.
But you are getting more. The Lancia Delta Integrale has something else; something that maybe, with all the rules and regulations limiting car designs now, we are never going to have again with more modern cars: The Delta has style. Indeed, it has been called a styling icon. And it is. It catches your eye. The look of it squeezes your chest with the desire to have it. Just looking at it, you feel the time of the car, the spirit of the car (the spirit of fun and achievement), and you feel the joy of performance driving just in the visual impression the cars makes. A Delta 16v, with its wider wheel flared fenders, and the bulge in the hood to give space to the 16-valve head, doesn’t just “have” style, it “is” style. Few cars give you all this.
But still we are not done with the Delta Integrale. Oh, no, no. We’re not done yet, and you’ll see why I’m thinking seriously about getting and Integrale in Japan.
You see, because the Lancia Delta is not a modern design, it can have large rear and side windows to give you good outward visibility. And you don’t have to have factory tinted windows. This is essential for safe driving, especially in low-light conditions (dusk and early morning) and at night. It you are going to drive fast and furious, which is what a Delta Integrale is for, you need to know who else and what else is on the road. If you can’t see it, you’re not going to know it’s there. As a practical reality of sports motoring, good visibility is essential.
And in terms of practical: What could be more practical among high-performance and rally machines than the five-door hatchback body of a Lancia Delta Integrale? I appreciated the practicality of my WRX STi five-door body over the three-door, sloping tailgate body of my Celica GT-4. And I appreciate the practicality of both over the two-seater roadster I am driving now. So, yeah, another plus of the Lancia Delta is practicality.
Of course, the specs on any Delta Integrale are not, most emphatically not, what you would normally associate with a “practical” car:
For the HF Integrale 8v, you are looking at 0-60 times in the mid six seconds, with the engine putting out 185ps at a nice, low 5,300rpm. This power is bumped up in the HF Integrale 16v to 200ps at 5,500rpm, and 0-60 acceleration time drops to the mid five seconds. Power keeps climbing in the later HF Integrale Evoluzione (now 210ps at 5,750rpm), and in the final version, the HF Integrale Evoluzione 2, power hits 215ps at the same 5,750rpm. The zero to sixty miles per hour times of these later two cars are the same as the HF Integrale 16v, but, from what I understand, the feel of the power curve is different: The 16v has a smaller, somewhat more responsive turbo, whereas the Evo-II turbo boost comes on harder. (I’d guess that the difference in power curve and boost feel is going to feel like the difference between my Impreza STi and my Celica GT-4.)
Now I will admit that, with some vehicles, the owning and the having are more important than the driving. This happens when you are buying a classic or high-value-retention car for your own personal wealth protection. Cars like the Lancia Delta Integrale do fall into this category because, since they are established collector’s cars, they can be expected to retain their value well into the future.
So, yes, as an investment only, and driving aside, a nice clean, low-kilometers low-miles Delta Integrale like this really beautiful 1994 HF Integrale Evoluzione-II here (with only 49,500km on it!):
or this 1990 HF Integrale 16v here (with 87,000km on it),
make good sense, and both are available in Japan now (I’m writing this in February, 2019) for export to the UK, America, Taiwan, France and other EU countries.
And this is where again, and always, in used car buying overall condition is crucial. In Europe, in Britain, cars like the Lancia Delta Integrale often lead hard lives and buying a used Integrale in the land of its birth, in Italy, does not make wise purchasing sense. But buying a used Delta Integrale from Japan does make sense. It makes very good sense. As I mentioned earlier, when I see an Integrale here on the roads is Japan, be it a 16v or an Evoluzione or an Evoluzione-II or even the rarer and older HF it is, almost invariably, in very good condition.
The Japanese owners of Delta Integrales baby their cars. Sure, they drive them, but they sure do not abuse them. The fellow in Japan who, at present, owns the Intergrale that you are going to buy, has treated that car as his treasure, his baby. When you buy a second hand Lancia Delta Integrale from Japan, you benefit from all that loving care the car has been receiving here. And you benefit as well from the fact that the climate here is generally kind to cars: mild and, except in certain northern areas (from which we do not purchase cars for our customers for export), no salt is used on the roads.
So I’m looking around in Japan for a nice used Delta Integrale, and I’m seeing cars like the two beauties above, or these two really nice 1992 HF Integrale Evoluzione units here with their eye-catching hood bulges (all for sale now, February, 2019):
And as I get on in life, I can at least say that I am not struggling financially anymore and finally a Lancia Delta Integrale is coming within my grasp. But in no way is an Integrale a rich man’s only car. They are going for reasonable prices now in Japan these days. But, yes, these days prices are climbing as more and more buyers realize that Japan is the best place to source a good example for export to the USA, to England, to the European Union, or to Taiwan, and to other countries as well. And guys, let’s be realistic, prices for good Delta Integrales are not going to be going down anytime soon, maybe never. For me, I’m thinking that I can go for one now, but in three to five years, prices may be getting beyond me. I kind of feel like I’m in a race against time to go for buying a second-hand Integrale now, or maybe be too late as they all get snapped up in Japan and exported out of the country. (To my own customers, so I’m happy about that, of course; but I still want an Integrale for myself, too.)
But putting me and my desires aside; for you, for someone who wants to export a good used Delta Integrale from Japan, you won’t make a mistake by doing so now via us here at Japan Car Direct. We’ll help you find a good unit and arrange the inspection and the necessary export documentation and the shipping. That’s the service we provide, like we did for our customer who bought this really fine 1995 Delta Integrale Evoluzione Due.
That happy customer, and our other satisfied customers who have exported clean used Lancia Delta Integrales direct from Japan, definitely found the car that they aspire to. The car that they really want.
Read more: Incredible Group B Rally auction featuring Lancia Delta S4 Stradale
Those interested in possessing Japan’s most exclusive used automobile, or any other used Japanese or European luxury model, are encouraged to consider the huge and affordable Japanese used car market and give Japan Car Direct a call.
After ordering my minivan from Mathew and the folks at JCD, I will definetely use them again. Took three months to get the van but I am on the other side of the world. Van arrived in better condition than I expected although battery was dead and gas was extremely low. Other than that, the documents were sent to me promptly and the process of registering was seamless with the supplied documents. Thank you Matt and team and I look forward to working with you in the future!
When starting my path of importing a JDM classic Land Cruiser, I spent weeks doing research before actually committing because I’d never imported anything before. I was fortunate to come across Japan Car Direct, and that’s where I met Mathew. Wow, where do I start with Mathew..... (Just kidding Chicago!) Mathew was fantastic, from spending time on Skype answering all my questions to teaching me everything I needed to know to successfully find the truck of my dreams. Well today in fact I picked up my truck at the port, and it was in even better condition than I could have seen in the pictures and from the reports provided. Guess what, just ordered another one! You are the Master Mathew. Go Hawks!
My Importing experience with Japan Car Direct was unbelievably smooth. What I feared would be a complex process became far simpler than ever imagined. From the very beginning I worked with Mathew, who provided excellent communication. I always felt informed on all costs and the vehicle’s condition. My van has arrived in the US and I couldn’t be happier. Thank you for all the help! I hope to work with JCD again soon.
Had a great experience finding and importing a classic car. Worked with Mathew Matusiak and guided me all throughout the process. Would highly recommend Japan Car Direct.
This was my first experience importing any vehicle. The team at JCD, specifically Mathew, made the process exciting and fun. The information provided from the how to video’s, the explanation of ALL the costs and even helping me choose an import broker that made the experience easy and understandable for this first time customer. Thank you for answering my every question providing guidance through my first purchase. I look forward to buying my next vehicle from you too! Patrick – North Texas
I'm giving Mathew and his crew five stars for excellent service, and for delivering what they promised. I am a first-time importer for a van I will use myself (no resale). Mathew took me through the selection process, helped steer me away from potentially bad deals, and communicated regularly once I had selected my vehicle. He took me through the export process, and recommended Armin at EasyISF to help with the import process. I was able to track my van across the ocean, and Armin helped me work through customs clearance up through the day I picked up my tiny van. Sometimes you have to trust people and this time I picked the correct people to trust; both with my funds being wired to Japan and with trusting that Mathew and his crew had my best interests in mind. I am a very satisfied customer and I strongly recommend Japan Car Direct for your import experience. They delivered exactly what they promised.
This was my first time importing a vehicle for my personal use and naturally I was leary about who to go through. After looking through a few other places and after getting in touch with a longtime customer of theirs I decided to try these guys out. I can say without a doubt I'm glad I did. They are definitely professional and know their craft when it comes to getting you your dream car. Everything from getting cars inspected and bidding was completely transparent and went smoothly. I couldn't be happier with the car I bought and I hope down the line I'll be able to purchase another using these guys!! Thanks for all you guys do!!! 11/7/19 Still have my MR2 and loving it everyday!! I'm going to Japan next month and hopefully I can find something fun for my car to bring back! Just re-read my review and I can still say my car has been nothing but great along with my experience with Yoshi and his team! Thanks again!
You made the purchase and export of my 1998 Rover Mini to Vancouver Canada so easy Thank you and I"ll be back
A few months ago I set out on my goal of importing a vehicle from Japan through an auction. After tons and TONs of research and countless emails, I decided to use Japan Car Direct as my exporter in Japan. From the beginning of my interactions with JCD, I was thoroughly impressed. My contact, Yoshi, was amazing...definitely a huge asset to the JCD team. He answered all of my questions promptly, translated dozens of auction sheets for me, and advised me of what to watch out for when looking for a vehicle. He was beyond helpful! I picked up my Kei truck at the port in Newport News a few weeks ago and couldn't be more pleased. Since then, the truck has made it to its final home in Charlottesville, VA on my farm. Yoshi and the other guys at JCD are now my go to team for more of these soon. Thanks again JCD and keep doing what you guys do! You all are the real deal.
Since a kid the FD RX7 has always been a dream car but i didn't pursue it till i graduated high school but the prices just for the shell over here in california was over 15k!! I kept looking around until I decided i would just import one. I found JCD while looking for the top 5 importers you could trust and they stood out more than all the other ones, and for a couple months of more research on their page until I ultimately decided I would go through them. Although this was my first time getting a car from Japan and having an endless amount questions spanning a couple hundred emails until it would freeze up and i had to make a new email thread .. Mathew always answered every question and helped me though every step. I didn't have all the funds in the beginning but they were very patient with it until i was fully ready, then after a month of having Matt give his thought on some of the FDs i was looking at we finally won the auction for a 94 Efini type R Fd3s. As we picked it up from Long Beach till the drive home I couldn't believe that it was here and soo much better just looking at the picture but i defiantly would recommend JCD to anyone looking to import their dream car too and and want to thank matt and the whole team with getting me my RX7.
I'd been looking to buy an RF series Honda Stepwagon to convert into a mini camper for a while but the UK prices always seemed too high. I had joined a few JDM import sites to get an idea of auction prices and costs (including Japan Car Direct) but just couldn't bring myself to take the next step, it seemed such a risk ! Finally after reading so many good reviews for JCD (and Mathew in particular) I took the plunge and contacted Mathew. After he answered my many questions regarding costs, fees etc I felt confident enough to pay the deposit and start hunting the Japanese auctions for my Steppy. My budget for the Steppy was pretty low (pathetic even !) but I felt Mat still put the same effort into replying to my questions and queries as he would have done if my budget had been into the tens of thousands. The result was I now have a very tidy Stepwagon with lower mileage than any vehicle I've ever owned, I've paid far less for it then I would have done buying in the UK and I've got a bigger budget now for the camper conversion. I wouldn't hesitate to buy through them again, and hope to do so soon.
5 star experience from start to finish. Transparent and easy process, and Mat was very patient to answer plenty of questions I had during the purchase! Can’t wait to do it again because the Japanese cars from this era are pure automotive art and these guys hold the keys to the museum!
After an initial inquiry several years ago, I still wanted to get a Japanese Delica or Hiace. Matthew was immediately in contact and helped with all the details. His videos were perfect for my search. Matthew was able to answer all of my questions and my wife and I were able to make decisions based on the great information he provided. I would recommend Japan Car Direct to anyone interested in getting the right car at the best price.
The staff at Japan Car Direct made what I thought would a a difficult process very easy. Matt explained every step thoroughly and his advice on details of cars was spot on.
I imported a van though JCD and they made the process super straightforward. They were amazing at communicating and quick to answer any of my questions. If you are looking to import a car I would highly recommended them.