The cars we loved.
It’s been said that good things come in small packages. In the case of the Zagato built Lancia Hyena, good things come in smaller packages in smaller numbers. Designed in 1990 by Marco Pedracini of Zagato, the Hyena was first shown at the Brussles Motor show in 1992. Although based on the 4 door Delta HF Integrale floorpan, it had none of the Lancia’s boxy 80’s inspired lines. Instead the curvaceous and sleek 2 door coupe resembled a tightly wound predator ready to pounce (hence the Hyena name).
The concept car caused quite a stir at the show, prompting its creators to hasten plans for its production. Lead by Dutch car restorer and collector Paul Koot an agreement was hatched between Lancia and Zagato to build up to 500 of the limited edition cars. Fresh off of the high of its striking Alfa SZ coupe, this would an opportunity for coachbuilder Zagato to re-establish itself in the high end car business. Previous designs from Zagato were often out there, prompting extreme reactions. The SZ and now the Hyena found the company on a more agreeable design streak.
The Hyena started life as a completed HF shipped from a Lancia factory in Holland to Italy to be stripped down by Zagato. Once the body was removed the frame was shortened, and a all-new alloy/composite body was fitted to what essentially would become a smaller, lighter spawn of the Integrale. The interiors were custom, but with components from the Integrale. The dash was straight forward and had a twin bow wrap around design that looked like a odd variation of the twin pod designs seen in some Mustangs and early Corvettes. With its white face dials, it looked more like a straightforward race car than an expensive GT for public road use. The more angular layout in the Integrale was not as easy to read, but seemed more complete.
The Hyena would retain everything that made the Integrale legendary including its all-wheel drive system (slightly biased to the rear wheels) and fully independent suspension. The 205/45 16 ZR tires fitted to the Hyena were slightly lower profile than the Integrale and made the Hyena appear lower to the ground and made for a tight fit look in the Hyena’s wheel wells. An uprated 2.0 litre turbocharged engine was tuned to produce 253hp (or more) and was mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox.
Weighing in at 2534 lbs, the Hyena was over 400 pounds less than the Integrale, allowing a higher top speed to be reached more quickly. The Hyena was able to reach 60 mph in as little as 5 seconds and continue all the way to 144 mph (some accounts claims 155mph). One thing was for certain, performance in general was supercar like. Strong brakes, precise steering and considerable grip were noted by few media outlets that were able to test one.
The manufacturing process was a complicated one that no doubt contributed to the $75,000 price tag of the Hyena when new. Like the limited edition Alfa Romeo SZ, the design was striking if not polarizing. The price was in Porsche and entry level Ferrari territory and as such may have been at a disadvantage. As a Lancia the Hyena lacked the pedigree of the more established exotics (or as a Zagato for that matter).
Possibly for reasons mentioned above, the agreement between Zagato and Lancia fell apart after only 24 or so cars were made during a time that spanned late 1992 to early 1993. The giant Fiat Group which owned Lancia, probably felt the Hyena was too close to products from its Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo subsidies and not as profitable due to the high expense of its production. Oddly most of the completed cars went to Japanese collectors while the rest were scattered around Europe. None made it to North America initially, making the Hyena a very much sought after item to collectors.