992 Lancia Hyena Zagato – Believed to be the Only Hyena Presently in the United States

You could be forgiven for not immediately recognizing the striking coupé that stands before you. Smooth and streamlined, subtle and refined, its shape is unlike any of its contemporaries, both beautiful and purposeful in equal measure. Look a little closer and there are clues to the car’s seemingly extraterrestrial origins: its Lancia badging; the Italian firm’s famous Elefantino Rosso logo, emblematic of the marque’s extraordinary rally dominance; and the lines that whisper, rather than shout, of the legendary Fulvia Sport Zagato coupé. Still, only true cognoscenti will know the name. One of the rarest and most special road-going automobiles to ever bear a Lancia crest, the Hyena Zagato combined coachbuilt beauty with one of the most evocative, characterful, and successful drivetrains ever to grace the World Rally Championship.

The Lancia Hyena Zagato owes its existence to Paul Koot, a collector and the Italian firm’s official Dutch importer—a man with an eye for beauty and a head for business. Koot’s interests reached beyond his dealership, Lusso Service Holland, and in the early 1990s, he found himself restoring a fabled Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato. The project led him to visit Elio Zagato, and the topic of conversation soon turned to the small, affordable Zagato-bodied coupés of the company’s past. From that meeting came a striking two-door study from Zagato’s Marco Pedracini—a beautiful modern reimagining of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Zagato ‘Coda Tonda’ of the early 1960s. Koot immediately realized the potential of combining Pedracini’s stylish, aerodynamic coupé with the raw performance of the Lancia Delta HF Integrale, and a legend was born.

Work began immediately on a concept, which was shown for the first time at the comparatively minor Brussels Motor Show in 1992. The car was a hit, and by the time the event hall doors had closed, some 12 orders had been placed, taking the project from dream to reality and firing the starting pistol on series production. Conceived to compete with the Fiat Coupé, Koot and Zagato targeted a run of some 600 Hyenas, each to be sold through Lancia’s existing dealer network—an area in which Koot had unique expertise. But while the Italian giant wasn’t opposed to the idea, it also had no appetite to invest heavily in the project. Rather than integrate production, Koot was forced to use road-ready Integrale Evoluziones as the basis for the Hyena Zagato, sharply increasing overall costs and pushing the final ticket price to a dizzying $75,000—a full $10,000 more than an Acura NSX.

Though eye-wateringly expensive, the car more than lived up to its billing when the first prototype was shown at the 1993 Paris Motor Show. After being prepared as rolling chassis in the Netherlands, the cars were sent to Turin, where they were fully rebodied by Zagato. A lightweight steel structure was installed, which was then fitted with aluminum body panels, with composites used for the doors and bumpers to help save weight. The rear seats were gone, as were the rear doors, while the interior was completely revised, a sea of fine leather and lightweight carbon fiber echoing the spartan competition-inspired cabin of the contemporary Alfa Romeo SZ. The final design was significantly more stiff, compact, and slippery than the original Integrale, not to mention some 440 pounds lighter.

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