Baby Ferrari? 1976 Lancia Scorpion


Don’t get mad at me, Lancia fans, for comparing it to a Ferrari, I know the Scorpion/Montecarlo is a fine car in it’s own right; I just see one in bright red like this and think “mini 308.” Yes, folks, this is a true mid-engined Italian sports car, being sold here on eBay with an opening bid of only $3,500. And it has just been tuned up, has new brakes and runs well. Before you make plans to head down to El Paso, Texas after your winning bid, we should go over the catches. Unfortunately, there are catches. Whomever resprayed this car didn’t really believe in masking, so there’s a lot of extra red paint in places you don’t want it. There’s also what I hope is minor accident damage that hasn’t been completely repaired on three of the four corners of the car. “But Jamie,” you say, “it’s an Italian thoroughbred sports car!” And you’d be right. What this car really needs is a good inspection–are there any Barn Finds readers in El Paso that could take a look for us? And while you are at it, tell us if this dash upholstery is the elephant skin it looks like?

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  1. RayT Member

    Scorpions were really neat cars, combining the charm and driving fun of a Fiat X1-9 with a little additional space for U.S.-size humans. Would I want one now? Not sure. Putting paint, body and interior (looks like a lot of trim has deteriorated, as is so often the case with Italian cars of that era) right would take both time and money, and that ignores any drivetrain issues….

    Tuners in Italy turned out a fair quantity of hop-up pieces for the engines. Finding them now would be a “plus,” as the primitive smog controls on U.S. versions were real power thieves.

    I’d think it would be essential to go over this one VERY carefully. My experience has been that rumpled corners and cheap paint jobs are a sure sign that the car hasn’t had any TLC for far too long.

    Still, for someone willing to put in the effort involved, a mid-engine Italian sports car offers pleasure seldom found anywhere else. It’s a kind of calmed-down mass-market Stratos without the insane pricetag.

    • Mark E

      “…rumpled corners and cheap paint jobs are a sure sign…”

      Not to mention poorly fitted naugahyde dashboard covers and loose fabric sunroofs… o_0

  2. Randy Forbes

    I have a friend that has both, a Ferrari 308 GTBi (also had/sold a 308 GTSi) and a Lancia Scorpion; he claims to like driving the Lancia better! I don’t know how they compare performance-wise (acceleration AND handling) but I know the 308 (2-valve/injected) is nothing to write home about. All of these cars of his are black, btw__No Way was he going to be caught dead in a Magnum Poo Yie (Cajun, for private investigator…)!
    His true automotive love is the Lotus Elite (2nd Gen/mid-engined).

    Personally, I’m not a fan. We had one come into the shop I worked at in San Francisco, and even in 1979__when the Scorpion was barely a few years old__we had a difficult time sourcing parts for it (cam belt broke, so valves, gskt set, etc.) and honestly, the whole car was already unwinding itself then. So yes, they are particularly rare, as few survived their own engineering and construction; probably the only ones you see today either had exceptionally good care, or they broke when relatively new, and were kept in dry storage!

    As for the red example in the ebay ad: no thanks! Red overspray EVERYWHERE__tires, engine compartment, underside, and even the headrest?!?! Compared to restoring that car, I think it would be less painful to clamp your hand in the vise, then using your other hand, hit it with a K/O hammer!

  3. Grr


  4. Kevin Harper

    Neat cars but this one is basically a start over.
    To speak to the 308 vs Lancia monte. I have owned a couple of 308″s (gt4 and gtb) and I have driven a few monte’s. In stock US for the Lancia sucks. But bring the engine back to just euro standards or better yet 2 liter warmed over and it is a whole new ball game. The Lancia is a much more exciting drive than the 308, but then again so is a hot rod x1/9. I am comparing a tuned Lancia to a standard ferrari though. The biggest thing to me is the turn in on the Lancia is so much better. The other down side to the Ferrari is parts are just so damn expensive.
    Now the downside of the Lancia. Compared to a fiat either 124 or x1/9 they are a PITA to work on. A lot of the same mechanicals but the placement and access on the Lancia are horrible.
    Oh and Lancia got a lot of bad press about the brakes but by now most have been upgraded and brake exceptionally well.

    I wouldn’t mind this one for a good starting point of a build but my buy in would be 1/2 the current ask.


  5. Georgemia Member

    Good comments above. The betas are all grear cars,but I wouldn’t start with one and this kind of condition and less it was really cheap.

    I know a guy that was at Lancia dealer in the 70s, and he says the cars were great, but the support for the dealerships was basically nonexistent.

    Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can really find everything you need, and fairly quickly. It helps to be able to read Italian or French websites, however. Betaboyz in the UK has a lot of great reproduction parts and can you have excellent technical support, too

    The Lampredi twin cam four is one of the greatest four-cylinder engines in history. Parts are abundant and reasonable and the motors, as noted above, can really be turned up.

  6. Georgemia Member

    As for the dash, it should be stitched vinyl, not some complex molded and it replaceable part. It would be the least of your problems restoring this beautiful car.

  7. bcavileer

    Nothin like red paint everywhere to make me squeamish.

  8. jwaltb

    It’s a Fiat-

  9. Livermoron

    Anyone else explore the photobucket album linked in the ebay posting? I am surprised (and at the same time not, considering the condition of the car) by what is in there.

  10. John

    OK, I have a story which is only peripherally related, but …

    In the mid-eighties, I had been out to visit my parents in the mountains in Colorado. It was early February, and a snow storm came out of nowhere. I headed home to Kansas City, MO across eastern Colorado and western Kansas. It was snowing like there was to be no tomorrow. I stopped at a gas station in Limon CO to top things off, and a girl (think Christy Brinkley in a Ferrari) in a Scorpion pulled up next to me and asked if I was headed east. She said she was scared to death of the storm and wanted to know if she could follow me across KS in case she ran off the road. She followed me 424 miles across KS, including a stop for gas in Abilene, and a cup of coffee. When we got into KC, she pulled along side and waved and I could see her saying thanks. I headed off to my house, she continued east on I-70. I have so often dreamed of having to rescue her from a snow drift. Unfortunately, the Kansas DOT had done there jobs well, and the roads were in great shape. BTW, I was driving a 3/4 4X4 Chevy pickup.

    Her little Scorpion never missed a beat. Dammit.

  11. Julian

    Called a Berta Monte Carlo in the UK
    Engine and other parts ex the Fiat parts bin. 2 litre is very reliable and tunable.

    As with the Fiat 850 coupe, you need a 50 pound weight in the front to increase cornering confidence.

    Good handling in the dry but can violently understeer if pushed in the wet. A friend who was used to driving his TR5 borrowed his mother’s Monte Carlo, failed to make a bend and suffered life changing injuries.

    A pretty car, but in the Uk there was insufficient rust proofing.

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