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Final Year: 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato

Lancia was an Italian automaker whose first car came out in 1909. They became part of Fiat in 1969 with only one Lancia product still in production today. Lancia never had a big presence in the US, with its last foray to these shores being between 1975-82. The Lancia Zagato, a Targa-type automobile, was the last model offered in America before they pulled up stakes for good. This 1982 Zagato looks to be in good condition with low miles for its age and is located in Sacramento, California. It’s available here on Facebook Marketplace for $5,450.

The Lancia Beta (Type 828) was an entry-level luxury car built by Lancia from 1972-84. It came in several body styles, including the 2-door Targa (Beta Spyder), like the seller’s car. Lancia products would pop into the U.S. market from time to time, the most recent being as of 1975. The automaker’s biggest challenge was the lack of a dealer network to persuade U.S. buyers to partake of their wares. The Spyder was sold here as the Lancia Zagato from 1979. It was offered with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that was good for 87 hp. The cars were beset with quality problems that prevented them from bringing any cars at all to the U.S. for 1980. Toward the end of the U.S. run, the Zagato’s gained fuel injection over carburetion which raised output to 108 hp. 1982 was the last year for Lancia in the U.S.

This ’82 Zagato is part of Lancia’s last U.S. hurrah. The seller doesn’t say a lot about the car other than it runs well and looks great. Body and paint look good and the interior is fine although there may be a crack in the dash. The photos supplied do support this being a good car. At under 52,000 miles, the car has been used sparingly over the years. Estimates are that only 2,100 Zagato’s were imported to the U.S. across all model years, so this car is a rare territory today given the likely survival rate. Rust apparently was the downfall of many of these cars, so a corrosion-free example like this appears to be a good find.

Hagerty entertains that $30,000 is the potential resale value on a Concours ’82 Zagato. That’s all well and good, but where would you take one of these cars to get worked on since they haven’t been in the U.S. for nearly 40 years? Your local Fiat dealer perhaps? Fair condition is pegged at $8,000, so if the seller’s car is as nice as it looks and runs just as good, a bargain may be here in the making.


  1. skloon

    Had one of these bought it new in 85- the engine spun a bearing at 30000km and the seats were falling apart at that time too- in 89

    Like 3
    • SubGothius

      Speaking of seat splits (albeit not in evidence here), the factory used a linen thread to sew up the upholstery, so it works as a “mechanical fuse” that fails before the fine glove-grade leather tears, much cheaper and easier for an upholstery shop to fix than replacing a torn leather panel.

      Like 0
  2. Randy Member

    It was posted 11 weeks ago.

    Like 3
  3. alphasud Member

    Who would work on a Lancia? I would as well as any competent Indy shop. These are not that difficult but maybe I say that because I worked on Saab and Alfa’s for a living. Definitely get rid of those ugly US spec bumpers.

    Like 2
    • CJinSD

      I ran a shop as recently as two years ago. Mechanics who want to be bothered with anything pre-OBD-II are thin on the ground. The owner kept trying to institute a policy to just reject cars earlier than 1996, but we still wound up working on a number of them. Generally speaking, it was an incredibly unproductive use of time for our mechanics and the customers still thought they were paying too much. This was at a top-rated shop with work booked close to two weeks in advance.

      When I was in college, I worked at a new car dealership that handled Saabs at the same location where Oldsmobiles and Hondas were sold. This was shortly before the GM buyout of Saab. We sold something like seventy Oldsmobiles and Hondas a month, and five to ten Saabs. The service shop was split in half. Hondas and Oldsmobiles were on one side, and Saabs were on the other. Saabs spent more time being repaired than fifteen times as many Oldsmobiles and Hondas, and believe me when I say that the Oldsmobiles were far from perfect too. There were also two local Saab specialists, since it was a college town. I don’t know where all the Saabs needing repairs came from, considering there can’t have been another dealer within an eighty mile radius. Anyway, if your standard for easy to work on is pre-Chevy Malibu-Saab, you’re not speaking the same language as 99% of current independent mechanics and customers accustomed to cars that are on their third owners before they need anything other than fluids and brake pads.

      Like 1
  4. SubGothius

    Mileage shown may not be actual. That 120 MPH speedo is from a ’79-only gauge cluster; by ’81-82 (there were no ’80s imported) they got the newly Fed-mandated 85 MPH speedo with the 55 circled. Not to make any accusations here, as the 120 MPH speedo is a popular swap when one can be salvaged from a ’79, but it’s something to clarify with the seller, presuming they did the swap or know who did it before them.

    That said, at least they started galvanizing the bodyshells sometime during the ’81 production run, so these late Zagatos are the least likely Betas to suffer any significant rust, and these FI models are the ones to have, with the best power, drivability, and reliability. The FI system is standard Bosch L-Jetronic, same as many other Euro models of the era and fairly simple to troubleshoot, or your local Euro specialist shop that deals with this vintage generally should be able to figure out any issues.

    As for the dash, Accu-Form makes a blow-molded dashcap, and/or Covercraft has the pattern to made a fabric or carpet DashMat cover (may need to inquire for a special order, wasn’t listed on their site anymore last I checked). The seat leather is quite nice glove-grade hide and responds very well to treatment with mink oil (the liquid, not the boot paste), which should return these somewhat tired-looking hides to nearly their original buttery-soft hand.

    Like 3
  5. Stan Marks

    Is it me, or does this look like a 1970s-80s BMW?

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      Perhaps a bit, with the quad-round headlights and slight shark-nose, albeit the latter not as rakish as most BMWs of the era (closer to an E30 3-series perhaps), and the lights are in-plane rather than the outers staggered back from the inners.

      Your comment also just led me to notice this has the recessed ’79/’81 grille, whereas the ’82s got a flush stainless-framed split grille similar to the Delta, so unless a PO swapped grilles, this is probably an ’81, not an ’82 as listed. No matter really, the specs are otherwise identical.

      Like 0
  6. Chris from Cincinnati

    I owned one of these new and had it for about 3 years. Loved it. Spunky fun car. I loved that I could stop at a light and drop down the convertible section behind the targa band. (just don’t try it when it’s cold or the window will crack).

    It only too a few seconds to pop off the black rigid plastic targa top and you could do it while in the car and drop it into the back seat.

    The Lancia Zagato was sexy but never without it’s mechanical issues. Mine overheated in heavy highway stop and go traffic.

    Still – I would love one again.

    Like 0
  7. chrlsful

    shoulders down? its my same yr Beta Coupe. Nice rig…great company (for 63 yrs) innovative solid more rally wins than any other co. Helped get Mr Porsche outta jail’n building (I believe) his cars. European sensibilities. Nothing like our boys just gettin home from W,DC. But this was just an election and that was a war (better leave the political). Yeah great co/guy. Came up w/ the ‘V” six’n other stuff I wish I knew offa da topa my head. Like Y they died soon after bought by Fiat. Was that when Fiat was bigger than GM? Was it ever? See what I mean?

    Like 0

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