Nicest in the US? 1976 Lancia Beta Coupe

“One of the nicest in the county” is how the seller of this 1976 Lancia Beta Coupe describes this car, and I don’t know if maybe they aren’t right, as they say in Noblesville, Indiana where this beautiful car is located. The seller has it listed on eBay and there are five days left on the auction with a current bid price of just over $1,100. Whether you pronounce it “Lan-cia” or “Lonchia”, this is one sexy Italian car.

That is one beautiful, interesting profile. It really looks like a nice example, maybe one of the nicest in the country. It seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Lancia’s new owner, Fiat, was looking for a replacement for the aging Fulvia. The Beta went on sale for the 1972 model year in sedan form and the Beta Coupe came a year later. I think that it’s a spot-on design. Lancia came back to the US in 1975 but they only lasted here for a few years, pulling out again in 1982. This car really looks great, but the seller mentions that there “are a couple spots of paint bubbling highlighted in the photos.”

There’s more than a little VW Scirocco in this car from this angle. And, luckily, being an ultra-reliable Italian car you’ll never be sitting on the side of the road with the hood open! Well, I can’t guarantee that, of course, but the seller says that it could “possibly need a battery in the near future, and the fuel pump is loud (hear it in the video). Was just driven on a 200 mile trip and performed great.” Man, that’s a great sound, isn’t it?!

Here’s what’s behind that sound, or in front of the exhaust that’s making that sound. In any case, this is Lancia’s 1.8L twin-cam four-cylinder with 86 hp. If it runs as well as it sounds, this would be one fun car to own, 86 hp or not.

Sporty. The seller mentions some cracks on the top of the dash under the cover but other than that, and some typical wear on the seats and a little project to fix the driver’s door where the upholstery has pulled away from the inside door handle, it looks nice inside. The back seat probably isn’t Michael Jordan-approved, I’m guessing. It looks tight back there, but the seats look perfect. This whole car looks very nice to me. Hagerty lists a #3 good condition car as being valued at $4,400. That’s a pretty cheap entry into a somewhat exotic and certainly sporty collector car.

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Comments

  1. Maurader

    Awesome looking Italian. But with a 0 to 60 time at 12.3 seconds, I wonder how well it could keep up with modern traffic.

  2. Francisco

    What does a fuel pump sound like?

    • Andy

      Ideally, we would never know. But then I’ve never had an Italian car.

      • Klharper

        Well it is a German Bosch pump and it sounds the same as a VW or BMW when they are going bad.

  3. chad

    had the ’81 or ’82 in silver. Interior was crisp & european for this american @ the time. A nice ride but din’t last in eastern MA.

  4. Steve M

    Very nice car……I like most Italian cars, there is just something special about them.

  5. Adam T45 Staff

    These are a truly fantastic little car, and for me they really tick all the boxes. However, (and isn’t there always a “however”?) the bubbles make me more than a little nervous. At this stage of the game, Fiat, Lancia and Alfa were sourcing their steel from Soviet Russia. The quality of the steel was not great (to be diplomatic). If the car has lasted this long without major rust, then that’s a fairly positive sign. I would be giving it a thorough inspection before purchase to make sure that it is structurally sound. Way too many Italian vehicles from this era proved to be biodegradable.

    • KenMax

      I agree totally, Adam, and you are correct about the Russian steel. I had a 1979 2 litre 5 speed coupe and before I bought it from a friend he promised me ALL the rust had been cut out and professionally repaired. He was telling me the truth, but the joke was you needed to wear swimming attire if you took it out in the rain! :-) I enjoyed it as a 2nd car, but would not have trusted it as a daily drive.

  6. SubGothius

    Note this coupe has had its stock carbureted 1800 engine replaced with a fuel-injected 2-liter from an ’81-82 Beta — a significant upgrade in performance, reliability, and all-around drivability. If that sounds good to you, but you prefer the earlier-style interior and trim, this offers the best of both worlds.

    A Lancia Beta is one of the most surprisingly “modern” classics you can still buy and maintain affordably, equipped with a DOHC transverse FWD powertrain with a 5-speed, 4-wheel disc brakes, rack’n’pinion power steering, and a fully independent strut-based suspension with an elegantly simple multilink rear (cleverly, the antiroll bar does double duty as a trailing link) — all features you can find in many an econobox these days, but few cars had any of that, let alone all of that, when the Beta debuted in 1972, nor many more when the platform retired a dozen years later. The Beta was the first mass-production car to implement that engineering template in full, which effectively became industry standard decades later — truly a car ahead of its time.

    • Warren Laffey

      Hi SubGothius Im in Scottsdale looking at a Beta Zagato. I got the impression you have one and can give me some insight. Warrenlaffey@icloud.com

  7. Classix Steel

    I had the 78 beta in my youth for two years and it was a great car! I will restate to watch out for rust as when they get the cancer it can be bad. Mine was bought on the cheap from a GI years ago whose parents originally had new but were New Yorkers originally! I had the spots on inner doors cut out
    and repaired with metal where the rust was coming from the inside out of salt that can down the outside windows to get inside! The motor mounts and inner suspension due to torque of the five speed was also giving issues along some slight cancer from road splash was fixed by a machine shop back in the day which also beefed it up too.

    The leather was sweet and design as well as the four wheel disc brakes and even lights in doors that lit up to alert drivers of you were exiting the car.

    If one can get a non cancerous model they are super sweet Italian sports car with fun driving and performance too!

    • SubGothius

      This appears to be a non-sunroof model, which eliminates a major source of rust — not due to the sunroof itself or its seals, but due to owners failing to keep the drain channels clear of debris; those run down the pillars, so any water retention there can rot them out.

  8. Classix Steel

    Fyi
    The zegato is the cool convert Lancia !

  9. Bruce Combs

    I have a service manual for this car.

  10. Metoo

    Lot of ground clearance on it. I like.

    • SubGothius

      Stock US-market springs made them ride high to bring the headlights up to DOT minimum-height regulations. Swapping with stock Euro springs would lower the ride height by about 1″, or Beta Boyz offer lowering springs to go a bit lower.

      • giorgtd

        Yup, the stance is off, maybe not for the US DOT, but for the original design and anyone with eyes. I’d go back to the Euro spec ride height as job 1.

  11. ulm210

    Maybe 10 years ago I was up on X-mas Eve assembling and wrapping presents. For some reason I was watching the Game Show Network and old reruns of Lets Make a Deal were on. One of the grand prizes was a Lancia Beta. In another episode the grand prize was a Porsche 924… when was the last time a game show gave away an Italian or German car?

    • Rich

      At least once a year and usually more on The Price is Right. During “Dream Car Week “ there’s some amazing giveaways. The last DCW featured Alfa Romeo, Porsche, BMW and Fiat as well as Jags, Minis & Land Rovers. My favorite week(!) hands down. The BMW is sometimes the bonus spin prize to boot.

  12. DRV

    I’ve seen one better at mid Ohio 5 years ago.
    Rare in any condition..

  13. SAM61

    I’ve lived in Noblesville for 25 yrs…never saw this on the road. Cool car! The interior and video/sound have me sold. I might have to check it out.

  14. Fran

    I like the car! My friend got one with a blown engine for 300$ back in 1982 never did anything with it. Video is funny the last part where it never was able to catch up to the minivan until the minivan put on the brakes! Lol

  15. aboyandhisdog Tom Member

    Beautiful color combination! Back in ’76 our Fiat dealer also sold Lancia. I was torn between the Beta or the 124 Sport. I bought the Fiat – figured it would be more reliable and easier to service. Lol…bought the Fiat for reliability!

    • Rex Kahrs Member

      Yeah, Scotty mentions this is an “Ultra-reliable” Italian car. Isn’t that an oxymoron? I only have questions.

      • Francisco

        Scotty was being facetious.

  16. PAPERBKWRITER

    Shifting@ 5k rpm will kill that thing.

    • SubGothius

      Nah, these have a Fiat-derived Lampredi twincam that loves high revs; revving it out is called an “Italian tune-up” for a reason. Redline is 6500 RPM, so 5k is easily in the safe zone. I rev mine to redline ALL the time, and it’s got over 150k miles on it total, had it for the past dozen-plus years and 35k miles myself.

      Guy I know who’s restored several Betas drove one cross-country behind another car driven by a buddy with a lead foot, which meant he had to keep the Beta around 5k for over a thousand miles just to keep up; he swears the Beta ran a LOT better after that trip.

  17. David Miraglia

    A must on my want list…

  18. johnye

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancia_Beta

    “quote”

    scrap dealer Hallett metals in Crewkerne, Somerset had crushed the last of the affected cars. In fact, by 1983 Series 2 cars outnumbered Series 1 models by a large percentage. Deliveries to Hallett Metals were handled mainly by transport company Abbey Hill. Before being crushed (flattened), the engine and gearboxes would be removed and placed in a separate container and no parts were to be removed or resold to the public. In the UK

  19. olddavidp

    These retailed for around $12k when new in 1981. Cadillac Coupe deVille money. One year later there were no takers at $3500. I know from experience. I was put firmly into the trick bag by a wholesaler that convinced me of the value of a 10k mile Italian car that looked absolutely new. The car would have had to have a gold bar in the glovebox to be worth $2000. Plus, the best mechanic I ever knew could not keep it on the road. It wouldn’t pass emissions with 9700 miles on it! The ensuing litigation was the only money we ever saw from that pig. I was young and all the older guys thought I was out of my depth. They were right on this one car.

  20. Wolf Beardigan

    I bought a new one in 76, same dark red, and met my wife to be! It was a lot of fun. Kids came along and traded for an Alfetta sedan which was a lot more fun.

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