The small Italian design firm Zagato certainly wasn’t known for its class and style, quite the opposite, in fact, having a reputation for coming up with ridiculous, hilarious and ugly cars, all of it unintentional. Somebody’s got to do it, I guess. This is why the 1993 Zagato Hyena was such a surprise and a success: it wasn’t ridiculous or ugly, and boy was it fast. Based on the Lancia Delta Integrale, it had the distinct honor of surpassing its inspiration in just about every way. The bumper-less design gave the car a smooth line, and it was both compact and aggressive. Looking at it, the only thing I can find wrong with it is the name, ‘Hyena’. Come on. Naming a car after a carrion-eater isn’t super glorious or far-sighted. Besides that, a real winner!
The Hyena (feels weird to say it) was powered by a 2-liter, turbocharged 16-valve four cylinder engine producing 210 horsepower. It could reach a top speed of 143 mph, and accelerate to 60 in a very impressive 5.4 seconds. Power was delivered to all four wheels through a five-speed manual transmission, and the car benefited from an all-around independent suspension.
Handling, not speed, was the 1993 Zagato Hyena‘s greatest asset; thanks to its all wheel drive chassis, massive grip and excellent direction, this car handled like it was on rails, to borrow Julia Robert’s expression from Pretty Woman (although in that case she was talking about a Lotus).