Reasonably Priced! 1982 Lancia Zagato

When you look at FCA’s current brands, soon to be enhanced by their PSA merger, Lancia is the one marque that has shrunk, considerably, from the “carscape”. It’s still around, of course, but limited to a single Ypsilon model that is available in several different trim levels and only sold in Europe. But that’s not how it always was and today we have one of Lancia’s more sporting models to review. It is a 1982 Zagato, located in Scottsdale, Arizona and available, here on craigslist for $3,989. Thanks to Paul G. for this find!

The Pininfarina designed Zagato (the name “Spyder” was used in European markets) was first offered in 1975 and continued through 1982, the last year that Lancias were sold in the U.S. Looking more like a sports car, the Zagato is actually a 2+2 with a tight backseat. Total production hovered around 10K units.

The seller states, “My dad and I have had this car together and worked on it when we could but have run into a little financial hardship due to Covid-19.” Most unfortunate! This is a great looking example, with a claimed 42K miles on its odometer, and it appears to be in very strong condition. The body looks rot-free, the white finish is consistent with a nice shine and the black plastic/rubber trim has not suffered the ravages of time or the Arizona sun. The only potential scrape is the lower quarter panel, beneath the rear bumper, looks minor though. There are no images of the rear window and canvas trim so we’ll have to assume that it’s in the same condition as the rest of the exterior.

Unfortunately, there are no images of the fuel-injected, 120 HP, 2.0 liter, in-line, four-cylinder engine. The seller does state, however, “The car runs great and has brand new Michelin tires. it’s a 5-speed manual transmission that drives so smooth and perfect for cruising around“. Car magazines during the Zagato’s run were not too sanguine regarding this Lancia’s reliability or driving characteristics though the introduction of fuel injection in 1981 solved many of the operational foibles. Of course, in 1979 a Zagato was rated on the basis of being an everyday driver and that’s unlikely how this example would be used today.

The interior of the 2+2 presents very well, it is not showing signs of rips, tears, or sunshine degradation. I love Italian sportscar instrument panels, it’s the informative, no-nonsense, stark, white on black presentation that just works so beautifully. The only thing that appears to need attention is the split dash pad.

I’m not sure how hard it is to source parts for a Lancia, perhaps a reader with some experience could comment on that matter, but this car looks like a lot of fun for a reasonable price. As the seller suggests, “Just by looking at the headlights this car starts to tempt you to drive it.” What do you think, tempting enough?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    Having owned several Alfa Romeo’s I have a soft spot for all things Italian. I like the Beta and would own one given the right time. They weren’t known for their reliability back then. When I saw the car it reminded me of a Chevy Chase movie called Modern Problems. He dove a Beta coupe that proceeded to fall apart while he was driving home. Funny how you remember funny stuff like that. I hope the seller gets his asking price. Seems like a good price to me for a clean Lancia. How may Zagato’s are still out there?

    Like 3
    • SubGothius

      Only a bit over 2,000 Zagatos were imported from ’79 to ’82 (there were no ’80s), but they tend to be the survivors of the Beta range, as they were more likely to be pampered, garage-kept, only taken out in nice weather on weekends, etc.

      The other Beta variants nearly all perished when they were just cheap used cars abused as daily drivers by those without much means or inclination to maintain them vs. just disposing of them when the service estimate exceeded the car’s resale value, and being brilliant winter drivers for the time, they got ALL the salt.

      Like 1
  2. SMS

    This is the car that taught me to bring a screwdriver when expecting a car for rust. What I found with my flashlight was only a small fraction of what ended the cars life not too many years after I bought it.

    This is not a sports car. It is a small GT. Comfortable, fun to drive, and looks good. If there is no rust, impossible I think, and it runs well it will make a fun hobby car. Fairly easy to work on. Not sure what part availability is now a days.

    Like 2
    • SubGothius

      Fortunately, Lancia started galvanizing the bodyshells sometime during the ’81 production run, so some late portion of the ’81s and all of the ’82s are pretty resistant to the ol’ tinworm, tho’ after nearly 40 years it’s not impossible.

      This one’s had the front passenger fender replaced (according to a recent update to the ad), and there’s some bubbling there along the door edge I’ll need to examine closely when I drive up for a look this afternoon.

      It’ll also need a new ragtop (notice one pic has the rear window lying detached across the backseat), but I’ve already got a brand-new Robbins top I was gonna install on my ’79 (a job I’ve done twice before), as well as a new Dashcap to cover the cracks developing there. Wish me luck!

      Like 11
  3. nlpnt

    The current (aging) Ypsilon is sold more narrowly than that, I think it’s down to just Italy although it had been sold all over Europe early in its design cycle.

    It’s hard to decide which is the more zombified Stellantis brand, Lancia or Vauxhall with the latter also (long since) down to its’ historic home market but fielding a full lineup, only because they’re all Opels with a different badge. At least the Ypsilon is as different from the Fiat it’s based on as any Lexus is from its’ Toyota platform-mate.

    Like 1
    • Martin Horrocks

      You´re correct on Italy being the only market for the Yspilon, nlpnt. Car sold quite well here in Spain, but Lancia brand was withdrawn from all except the home Market last year. Badging FCA products as Chrysler and vice Versa didn´t help at all.

      Even so, and despite being a very super-annuated Fiat Grande Punto, Lancia outsold Alfa Romeo worldwide in 2019! Which is hardly good news for Alfa, who have at least tried to build decent cars in the 21st century.

      Vauxhall is kind of English humour. Never met a non-Brit yet who can pronounce the name. The same car is branded Opel in Ireland and I really don´t think Vauxhall will survive Brexit and the production shake-up which the PSA/FCA merger is going to bring. Especially as the product is very poor.

      Like 1
      • MikeH

        In 2019, while in Spain, I saw a Chrysler mini van badged as a Lancia. The only difference, at least on the exterior, was the nameplate. I said at the time—how far the great name of Lancia has fallen.

      • SubGothius

        It’s pronounced a bit like sailors pronounce “forecastle”, innit?

  4. SubGothius

    I’m driving up there from Tucson to check it over this afternoon. My ’79 Zagato just blew her head gasket last summer (due to a pinhole radiator leak I didn’t find quickly enough) and is getting pretty dogeared after the past 16 years and ~40k miles (out of ~155k total) of daily-driver duty. The price is right and within my grasp, and the location sooo convenient, that I might just treat myself to an upgrade… 🤔

    Like 12
    • Bruce

      Jim ODonnell
      Noticed on the FAN posting that you had seen one in Ponte Vedra Beach car show. I attended that same show most likely. Any chance you live in that area?

      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Yes.

    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      SubGothius:

      If you check it out, please let us know how it is. And… if you buy it, it would be interesting to do a piece on it, as in, this is how it was advertised, this is what I found and this is what it needs, etc. You could even include some pictures and I’ll write it up. You can reach me at c/o mail@barnfinds.com.

      Thx,

      JO

      Like 5
      • SubGothius

        Sounds good to me, Jim. Will be in touch. Perhaps needless to say, I did buy the car! Now just need a friend to drive me up there again to drive it back. It’s got some needs, but AFAICT nothing serious I can’t handle [knock wood].

        Like 2
      • Jim ODonnell Staff

        Great! Glad to hear you did and I’ll look forward to hearing more.

        JO

  5. Araknid78

    Very nice

  6. Lawrence (Larry) smith

    I have a 82 Zagato that ive been working on over the last few yrs, re-built the engine etc .Hope to get it on the road this spring, Ive found that the Ground wires are the most common problem with the electrics, they must be kept clean .

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      Haha yep, there’s even an adage about electrical gremlins with these cars, “If in doubt, it’s probably a bad ground; otherwise, it’s probably still a bad ground you just haven’t found yet.”

  7. Lawrence (Larry) smith

    Im also looking at buying a 79 scorpion,to restore, if the price is right, needs engine work.lol

  8. Rick

    Three of my customers had Zagatos. One was titled as a 1980. They were without a doubt the worst cars that I ever worked on.

    • SubGothius

      They kinda glutted their dealers with ’79s as a tide-over until the new Bosch FI system was ready and certified for US/Cali emissions, which finally happened late enough in ’80 they started selling for the ’81 model year. Some states would title cars by when they were bought, so that ’80 was almost certainly a late-sale ’79 if it was carbureted.

  9. alphasud Member

    I’m glad the Zagato found a new owner who is passionate about old Lancia cars. While others can say the cars were unreliable and a PIA to work on people who are passionate about the brand just smile and just accept the quirks. Many years ago when I bought my Milano all my friends gave me a hard time for the same reasons. Owning one created a bond that even to this day is still there. Would I do it again? Absolutely!

    Like 1
    • SubGothius

      Nice! My dad had a black ’87 Milano Verde as his daily driver for many years. It gave him its fair share of trouble, but nothing overwhelming or onerous, and worth every penny for the daily joy it gave him during an otherwise stressful time of his life.

      Being in Green Bay, the salt took its toll eventually, and after having the transaxle replaced with a used unit and then ultimately needing internal engine work, he took the shop’s offer to buy it from him for an in-house project.

      I hope it’s still out there somewhere, giving someone else a taste of the joy that he — and I, on the many occasions I visited home and got to drive it — had experienced from it.

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