1976 Lancia Beta 1800 Coupe

Even though they were one of the few Lancias to be sold new in the United States, examples of the Lancia Beta, whether it is the coupe, sedan, shooting brake HPE or open roofed Spider, are few and far between. Rust was the Beta’s nemesis and sank the company’s reputation shortly after the car’s introduction. This problem was one of the main reasons you see so few on the road today. When they were new, these were priced above a Datsun 280Z and a little bit below a BMW 320i, so this was a car that appealed to Lancia fans or those who sought something outside of the mainstream. This 1978 Beta Coupe has beaten the odds and as the seller describes, could be the very finest example you could purchase on these shores.

1976 Lancia Beta 1800 Coupe

1976 Lancia Beta Coupe. The color is the rare Marrone Parioli with Tan leather. 26K miles from new. One family owner. No rust of any kind, ever. This car was stored for about 15 years before mechanical recommissioning began about 18 months ago. Since then, $11,400 has been spent to ensure that this the finest original Beta Coupe available anywhere.

It was in the summer of 1975, at age 11, that I began to notice advertisements in my parents New Yorker magazine for a new import car: the Lancia. Billed as "The Intelligent Alternative", the Lancia Beta came in four body styles. I'm sure I asked my parents to buy one, but my father was dedicated to Peugeots and just wasn't interested. The '76 through '78 Series 1 cars are the ones to have today, as by 1979 slow sales forced Lancia to degrade the interiors with cheap vinyl and an ugly steering wheel and dash. Little over 3000 of these S1 Beta Coupes were ever delivered in the U.S. Today almost all are in wrecking yards. A stunning, original car like this is almost unheard of.

Completely outfitted with every option: they include power steering ($333), power windows ($218), air conditioning ($589), and a sunroof ($290). These options would have raised the already expensive P.O.E. list price from $7750 to an eye-poping $9180 for a 1976 automobile.

New battery, fuel lines, fuel filters, timing belt, water pump, crank seals, cam seals, thermostat, timing belt tensioner, accessory belts, front brake rotors, front brake pads, grease seals, brake hoses, shifter bushings, clutch, pressure plate, release bearing, spark plug wires, radiator fan switch, and wipers. Reconditioned rear struts. Fuel tank removed and cleaned. Reconditioned power steering rack. Head machined with new head gasket. Valves ground. Oil pan gasket replaced. New Dunlop tires. Distributor serviced. Air conditioning fully serviced and converted to R134 refrigerant...blows cold. Very rare power window switches found and installed. NOS tachometer installed (last one in the world?). Countless hours spent on the internet to find some or the rarest reconditioned and NOS parts to complete the car. EVERYTHING WORKS...even the clock. Original interior in very fine condition...no dash cracks. New Coco floor mats. The old paint has buffed out very nicely. Wheels repainted. You will likely never find another original-condition Beta Coupe like this. This car is destined to cross the receiving ramp at Concorso Italiano in the near future. The question is: will you be driving it?

Back in 2007, I was pleased to see Jeremy Clarkson drive a 1981 Lancia Beta Coupe across Botswana in Top Gear’s Africa Challenge. While the car was a constant nuisance in terms of reliability, it made the trek (albeit barely). Some may deride the Beta for being too much of a Fiat rehash, but for a design from the mid-1970s, it looks surprisingly fresh, if you don’t take into account the oversized bumpers. Values are very hard to place on Betas, since few exist and even fewer come up for sale on a regular basis. With about a week left and the reserve not yet met, I’ll be curious to see if this car sells. Considering its condition, I’d wager to guess $6,000 to $7,000 would be reasonable for such a rare piece.

-Paul

4 thoughts on “1976 Lancia Beta 1800 Coupe”

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