24th January 2022

The Lancia Hyena: Handbuilt by Zagato

The Lancia Hyena is one of the rarest Italian sportscars you may never even have heard of.

Milanese coachbuilder Zagato has given us some truly spectacular designs over the years. From the striking, controversial Alfa Romeo SZ, to the more curvaceous (but just as contentious) Bentley Continental GTZ, Zagato’s design house could never be accused of conservatism. Zagato designs are often divisive, able to split opinion like a jar of yeast extract – and that’s certainly true with the Lancia Hyena.

Visionary Dutchman Paul Koot is the man responsible for the Hyena’s existence. A keen car collector, he approached Zagato with his idea for a new sportscar built around the hallowed Delta HF Integrale Evo platform. Koot’s curvaceous coupe would retain the all-weather performance and capable chassis of the rally-winner, without the boxy brutalist design of the Delta.

In 1992, Zagato delivered the concept which, in true Zagato style, looked almost exactly like the production version. Elements of the aforementioned Alfa SZ are visible in the design, which reportedly took inspiration from the Hyena’s animalistic namesake. A twin-bubble roof and distinctive swage lines are notable elements of the hand built aluminium bodywork, the construction of which helped to reduce weight by around 200kg.

Under the bonnet, a gas-flowed head and additional tuning upped power to 250bhp, boosting performance significantly, reducing the 0-60 sprint time to 5.5 seconds. Koot’s vision for a new lightweight Lancia seemed to make perfect sense – but Fiat didn’t agree. Such was the manufacturers distain for the project, it refused to supply the Delta chassis required to put the car into production as planned. Incredibly, that wasn’t enough to bring the project to a halt.

Paul Koot and Zagato decided to push on regardless, shipping a fleet of brand-new Deltas to the Netherlands, where they were disassembled and rebuilt as Hyenas. The process was, as you’d imagine, rather expensive. Of a planned run of 500 cars, only 25 examples were ever produced.

The Hyena’s marmite styling remains just as divisive today, but few would argue with its potent performance and incredible rarity. If you can find one, you’ll need in excess of £150,000 – a sum that would comfortably secure a trio of Delta Integrales. One thing’s for sure though. Pull up to a Footman James Coffee & Chrome meet in a Lancia Hyena, and its unlikely you’ll be parking next to another.

What’s your verdict on the Lancia Hyena’s striking design? Let us know in the comments below.