1979 Lancia Beta Zagato Spider

For an innovative company as Lancia, it was unfortunate that their short chapter in the US ended with the oft maligned Beta. This wasn't a terrible car, but it was the first Lancia to be developed under Fiat ownership and was designed down to a price, in comparison to earlier, better engineered Lancias. The Beta also got a bad rap from the alarming rate at which the car would succomb to rust, evening prompting a buyback campaign in the United Kingdom. In 1982, Lancia pulled out of the US market; their last car marketed being the Zagato Spider. While not a full convertible, the Zagato featured a roll hoop with targa roof panel and folding rear portion. Under 10,000 were produced, leaving this to be a rather uncommon Italian classic. This Zagato Spider for sale in Phoenix is being offered by the Arizona Chapter President of the Fiat Lancia Club.

1979 Lancia Beta Zagato

Lancia Martini Racing themed livery in removable vinyl on four coats new paint (Aug 2010). Factory original type and color-sanded, buffed flat. Wheels refinished in silver metallic. Engine bay performance modifications include: 10-1 Pistons at .040 over, 40/80 Aquati cam, larger Weber 34mm DATR 2 barreled carb (brand new from box – not refurbished), lightened flywheel, 1” racing cam belt, 105 amp alternator, results similar to European spec yielding about 120HP vs original 90, 82 version 180 degree thermostat and lower fan temp switch, upgraded A/C on custom 4 row radiator, new compressor, much bigger condenser, new evaporator, 134a conversion, 3 electric fans (2 A/C and one engine).

Tightened suspension using all new “Beta Boys” bushes. New modern leather bucket seats. Much better for tall drivers over the originals. History: World wide production (1978-1982): 9390. Body styled by Pinninfarina, but built at Zagato factory. This is one of 2076 (828.BS1 FL) manufactured for the US market. Arizona car since new. 65,000 miles. Purchased new in Tucson, currently in Phoenix. Performance rebuild started in 2006 (at 50,000 miles). I have a highly complete and mostly “restored” Lancia Beta Zagato I have decided to pass on to a good home. These are very practical collectibles and I think a good investment.

As drivers and show cars they are more fun than most people realize. According to a book I have, there were only some 2700 of all variants of this model shipped to the US and not a great many more made worldwide. This example has a new paint job I would put up against any show car of the same model. The pictures do not do it justice, it really should be seen in person. There is over $12K of documented upgrades on the vehicle all since 2006. It went back and forth across the desert on a road rally and also to CA for Monterey car week so is well checked out.

Most recently I changed the radiator/ fan back to original from the modified ones using a brand new full copper core and did an AC a charge before summer. It has new tires and an impossibly rare new turn signal cluster. I have access to a set of the original seats separate sale if desired. I have driven 6 or seven of these and this is the tightest suspension of the lot. The engine is also the strongest in the lower registers. In fact the torque is so good it could really use longer legs in the gearing. Runs about 42 -4400 rpm at 75/80 and feels like it could go the same speed with less revs. This is an AZ car with no rust, that was a real problem with these. I have a 4” thick book of documentation from prior owners including original purchase in Arizona. Much more I could tell, but you just need to see it if that is at all possible. Don’t buy another one without considering this one strongly.

I also have two others including a parts car so I can give you +/- on other year variations and why this is the best if you call me to discuss. The car is just back from another 600 mile tour with other Lancias in northern AZ. So it is well checked out again, but it is 33 years old so there is always something left to do. Items I would mention to work on are a small header pipe exhaust leak, fixed once but a recent bump brought it back; electrical draw when cold, fine if you run it every few days but I keep it on a trickle charger anyway. It needs couple fixes on the interior including a new dash cover and a full hyde food treatment and other details I could mention but nothing serious.

That said, this is now only just 15K on a new engine rebuilt, total suspension and shock bushing upgrade, electrical, ac and cooling upgrades, etc, etc. You won’t find a better example to keep and use long term. I am an active member and current president on the AZ chapter of the Fiat Lancia Club. I have several collectible cars (to many now which is my reason for selling) but the Zagato is the one I take most in the summer and for distance trips. Also used for last minute car meets where I need something that looks good and I can start up right away. This car has been displayed on the Lawn at Concorso Italiano and numerous shows around phoenix gaining “best Lancia” at Belezzze di Italia last Feb.

This Zagato Spider is arguably one of the best Betas I've seen and the asking price of $6,400 seems reasonable considering the ownership history, description and work done to it. The Martini decal certainly isn't too overstated and adds a bit of interest to this car. Any classic Italian car purchase is a risk, but the owner of this Beta has taken out a lot of the guesswork.


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