Heading for home

Lovely little Panda in Como

We enjoyed our visit to Villa d'Este, and had seen what we wanted to see. 

We needed to be in Strasbourg by the evening, so our thoughts turned to the Deltas.

By this time our small group had all begun to feel our Lancia Deltas were somehow

running this trip themselves, and we were just their passengers. The best places we had seen, and the people

we had met, had mostly been controlled by one of our cars needing something!

We returned to the car park, and Bobby's red car needed attention, a front tyre was losing air and the power steering was leaking badly.

The steering rack only leaked on full left lock, so that could be avoided, and the tyre could presently be driven on, so we got away with that.

John's white Evo smelled of fuel, after much sniffing we fitted a new rubber hose to the visible fuel return section.

We checked all the fluids, topped up Bob's steering and were ready to proceed. We had been out-Italianed in the parking stakes, so had a squeeze to get away. Before leaving we met many cheerful and enthusiastic people, who loved the Deltas and shared their own experiences with us. As this was a BMW sponsored event, many folk were returning to Germany in their own -reliable!- native classic cars.

Lancia Deltas at Lake Como
Integrale Evo1 windscreen wash

A very nice young man

cleaning our windows

We headed for the nearest gas station, all urban fuel outlets in Italy are self serve on a Sunday with air hoses locked away, we filled up with gasoline,

but had to keep looking for air.

We reached the border with Switzerland, and passed through the ancient, cold-war looking Italian border post. Once on Swiss land around the first corner was a smart BP station, with soap, water, a shop, and air. We filled the front tyre and bought some San Pellegrino.

While in the garage shop we met Elo, founder of the London Motor Museum, he'd been at the show with his wife and daughters, touring in a motor caravan. We had a happy and interesting meeting with Elo and his lovely family, and parted promising to keep in touch. 

Our dilemma here was that we needed to get the hammer down to reach Strasbourg, but Bobby's front tyre was now losing air quicker, and if we fitted the spare wheel we'd be limited to 60km per hr. We carried on with the original tyre.

The Deltas sang through Switzerland, the sun was shining and we enjoyed the bright, well organised scenery. As we approached the Alpine foothills we had fun in the tunnels when the increasing traffic allowed.

Bobby's tyre was getting softer, so we pulled in to a countryside lay-by, and fitted the spare. A local motorist approached and told us there was a long delay at the Gotthard tunnel, and we would be better to take the old road over the top.

He said we would be likely to find a village garage open who would fix our puncture.

So we turned off the highway and started the Alpine climb, the traffic was leisurely which suited Bobby's spare wheel limitations. We passed several promising village garages, but all were ferme.

Integrale spare blowout

The result of going too fast on an old space saver spare wheel

The evening was approaching and we were no nearer a solution, all this stopping and talking was wasting time! 

We turned onto a village filling station forecourt looking for a puncture solution. The shop had puncture repair canisters, so we bought one.

The instructions said the tyre should be changed and repaired properly after 50km, and speed was limited also, so ruining the tyre and limiting the speed wasn't much of an advantage over using the spare. I've used this stuff in the past, and it put the wheel well out of balance as it hardened.

We put the punctured wheel on the ground and poured water on it to check the rim for a leak, it bubbled around the valve, John moved the valve and it bubbled more, so the valve stem was leaking, and as no spray would fix that, we decided to carry on with the spare fitted.

We began the climb up the Alps to the Gotthard pass, John in the white Evo broke away and set off at speed to enjoy the curves. We 2 remainers passed a promising local garage where a man was working, but John had gone ahead now so we couldn't stop without him.

We met John 2 minutes later, he'd had brake fade on a sharp bend and had to take an escape route, after exchanging hand gestures we all returned downhill to the garage we'd spotted. 

Lancia integrale with spare wheel

That looks like a senior citizen

giving some kind of puncture lecture

We drove down the other side of the mountain, enjoying the wonderful snowscapes, the gradient eased as we entered France, the fields turned green again, and eventually we reached our Strasbourg overnight stop just before the day ended.

Staying at a city centre hotel, we parked in the underground facility opposite. This car park was well lit and freshly painted, we went to bed. 

You'll remember we were all agreed that the Deltas were in charge of this trip.

The gentleman in his garage was the owner, working late on a Sunday renovating his Hi-Lux pickup. He had a tyre machine and a new valve, and was happy to help. The garage owner spoke most European languages, John was able to enjoy speaking German with him.

We had another happy and productive meeting, and the Deltas had made another new friend.

With the tyre fixed, we headed North again at our pre-puncture pace.

We crossed the Alps at the dramatic Gotthard pass, although it was the end of May there was still deep snow up there. We were on a mission by then, and used that as an excuse to make some headway through the busy tourist traffic.

A really helpful gentleman.

We were so taken with the Swiss Alps area, we were all set to move out there. Until the weather was mentioned! It snows in Winter..a lot.

Integrales underground

Call me old fashioned, but 'wet rooms' seem a recipe for lifting tiles and rotting floors! After using the on suite 'wet room' and having a substantial pastry based breakfast we went for the cars. We all smelt fuel as we approached the Deltas, we checked the fluid levels, then moved the cars a bit to inspect what they had left on the lovely clean floor overnight.

A variety of fluids were there, water, power steering, engine oil, and gasoline. Most leaks had already been managed, but the fuel leak from DYR Evo was a worry.

We proceeded with caution, in rural France the fumes became too much for John, so we pulled into a motorway services. We got out the tools and carefully removed the water header tank, and sure enough the fuel feed pipe had rubbed a hole in itself on the bottom of the tank. I had done the leaking fuel return pipe on the red car just before we left uk, so I had bought pipe and clips with us on the journey. I asked a forecourt fuel pump servicing van driver if he had a hacksaw I could borrow, to cut the bonded end off the fuel pipe, 'Non!', so we had to use a file edge to cut through the metal pipe.

France Integrale breakdown

Tool box out, cigs out too.

Delta on site maintenance

Very hot water.

Integrale fluid leaks

Senior citizen..'It'll be ok'

Sensible young men..'It bloody won't!'

Delta fuel pipe repair

Senior citizen checking the work

The fuel pipe repair was done safely and everything put back in place, a quick check over and we were back on the road

We continued across France on their quiet, well maintained highways,

stopping now and then for fuel and food. The cars ran well, with only minor niggles, but we were all at top awareness for any sudden noise or smell.

John had said you can smell a problem before you see it, that's true.

The Sanef tolling tags were great, we sailed through the toll stations easily,

the drag racing novelty had worn off, as we thought more about the Deltas

getting us home than about making noise!

Bobby and Max's red car driver's window wouldn't lower, it's a sunroof car so some heat could escape. Bob put the back window down, it was funny to see him driving along with his arm out of the back window! In our blue car the roof lining was keeping the tops of our heads warm, having been unstuck by the open window motoring.

The blue sky of the South was darkening with cloud as we approached the coast, we hoped it wasn't a sign of trouble to come. We cut through the traffic and made it to the Calais terminal with time to spare. Our first 2 cars went through the check-in fine, the last car was held back and when the card came out it was a later letter for a later train, bugger!

We stopped in the terminal for a coffee and I took the later ticket, we went to the queue and were told it was too early. We went around again, and as we approached the check I was in the middle car, they asked for my ticket, with a local style shrug we all shot through, same at the next point, then up to the final gate for the train.

Lancia Deltas in Eurotunnel

We finally got to the train

line-up, and could begin to relax.

We smelt the sea, and saw the clouds we knew well,

but we all began to feel a bit sad that our trip was nearly over.

Never wanting to waste good fixing time, some interior trim issues were addressed on the train, and we reached UK all still in one piece. The drive North on M40 and M6 was surprisingly quiet for a Bank holiday Monday night. The drive featured heavy rain, our blue car rear wiper getting stuck under the rear spoiler, which had been adjusted to stop catching the roof edge, and our voltmeter suddenly swinging up and down in completely random way!

We were home with the cars locked away by midnight. We were reluctant to leave the Deltas, and fussed around them, remembering our adventure.

Each car had revealed its character, Red Rooster was the challenging teenager, DYR, 'Dire' was the white car, cheerless and problematical, and our car 'Bambi', because of its mild manners and Bambi coloured interior.

We were so proud of our Lancias, they had really looked after us, and they did know what to do. We were the passengers in our Integrale's own adventure.