Seldom Seen Estate! 1977 Lancia Beta HPE

The Beta represents Lancia’s first offering following its 1969 acquisition by Fiat. Beautifully styled, well-engineered, and much-maligned, a Beta can be an absolute blast to drive.  However, ownership is not for the faint of heart. This Lancia Beta HPE is a rare sighting in the US, is available here on craigslist for $6500, and located in Seattle Washington.

The Lancia Beta HPE (High-Performance Estate) was introduced in 1975.  It was a combination of the Lancia Berlina’s longer wheelbase and their Coupe’s front end styling. The design duties were handled by Aldo Castagno, who had designed the Lancia Fulvia.  The key objective in the design of the Lancia Beta HPE was maintaining the quality reputation of Lancia while leveraging Fiat mechanicals wherever possible.  This was accomplished in the manufacture of the Lancia Beta by using the Fiat Twin Cam 4 cylinder engine designed by Aurelio Lampredi and used in the Fiat 124 at the time.  Displacement sizes available in the Lancia HPE were 1.6L and 1.8L respectively.  The Lancia Beta HPE is a front-wheel drive.

This Beta HPE displays well.  The seller notes one repaint in a 2-stage base/clear application in the 1990s in the original color which appears to be Blue Celeste. Corrosion is not mentioned but that is a significant area of concern when considering the purchase of any Beta.  Typical areas requiring close examination are the hood lip and front fenders as well as the usual undercarriage areas such as floors and rockers.  Pay particular attention to the mounting points for the front engine cradle.

The seller doesn’t include pictures of the interior but mentions that the stitching has pulled on the front seat covers.  This is a common issue with the front seats.  Interior appointments are plastic and somewhat fragile in these cars, so pay particular attention to interior trim, as replacement bits are scarce.  The seller notes that the air conditioning needs a charge as a result of a Freon 132 conversion.  The air conditioning system tends to be a weak point in these cars. Also, pay close attention to the power windows operation as that too can be problematic.

Sadly no pictures of the engine are provided.  The DOHC engine is transversely mounted and canted back towards the firewall at approximately 20 degrees.  This provides a slightly better weight distribution.  While the design of the engine features the Fiat 124 cast iron block, the cylinder head is different in the Lancia Beta. The seller notes an upgrade to the later 2.0L.  No mention is made of fuel injection. Critical in evaluating any Lancia Beta for purchase is service history.  Of particular note is timing belt replacement which should ideally be done every 30,000 miles.  The service can be done with the engine in situ, however, access is through the passenger wheel well and space is limited.  The seller does not mention when the last time this service was performed, however, that information should be available given the seller’s long-term 30 year ownership.  The seller also does note that a duplicate title request is in process.  This Lancia Beta HPE comes with an abundance of spares, long-term ownership, and presents well.  Given its unique styling, reputation for great handling, and its high revving DOHC 4cylinder, this might just be someone’s opportunity to enter the Italian sports car market at a modest entry point.  Are you ready to care for the Lancia?

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Comments

  1. Gloin

    Maybe it’s the camera angle but that’s gotta be the most ridiculous rear bumper I’ve ever seen

    Like 2
    • SubGothius

      OTOH, at least those US-mandated 5 MPH bumpers resist body damage from other drivers parallel parking by the Braille method.

      Like 2
  2. alphasud Member

    Really cool Beta. Not showing the interior suggests it’s pretty trashed. No mention of injection mods or Weber conversion. I have been down this road with the Washington title. Takes up to 2 years to get a title. You can register it if you are a Washington resident but out of state is a no go. So this car is really only for sale to people in WA.

    Like 3
    • KEVIN L HARPER

      Depends on the state. A lot of states only require a bill of sale for a car this old some don’t even require it to be notarized.
      My state is not the easiest as it prefers a title but with a notarized bill of sell and a bond I can secure a clear title. The first couple of times you do this it is a hassle because you don’t know all the hoops that you have to jump through, but I have done it so many times now, and I am getting known by the DMV that it is pretty easy.

      Like 1
      • alphasud Member

        I live 9 miles from Washington state. As a Idaho resident I can’t buy this car on affidavit and register the car here. I have been down this road before. Maybe other states will allow but it makes the purchase more complicated. I know when I was in Colorado and I lost my title for a car they printed a new one on the spot with my registration card.

    • Araknid78

      Not that hard. Both parties show up at a licensing office. Sign an affidavit. Pay the fees and you’re done. New owner get tabs immediately (if needed) and title in the mail in a few weeks. Or, if you’re not selling it, just show up at a licensing office, sign an affidavit, pay the fees and you’ll get the title in a few weeks. Done both.

  3. Mike

    Those bumpers are a joke. Yuck

    Like 3
  4. TimeForOldWine

    a recent Harry’s Garage covered a slicker cousin of this. Video also talks a bit about the HPE, though probably in euro spec compared to this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcP5EigpHC8

  5. Duke reed

    Same styling as a corolla lift back……who had the design 1st is my question

    Like 1
  6. t-bone bob

    These are really beautiful in the flesh. Too bad the seller took suck crappy pictures

    Like 2
    • Gransedan

      And so sad that the seller chose to hold a door open with a foot.
      The interior door panels of a vehicle are on a very lengthy list of mine of objects that are never to come in contact with the bottom of my shoe.

  7. Jef Fowler

    My first Italian car was a 1975 2.0L Beta coupe. Loved it but rust was a real issue. I picked up a 1980 1.6L HPE in a lighter, non-metallic blue. The later version seemed to have less of a rust issue.

    Great design. Very classy. Lived in the UK back then so no ugly bumpers.

    Pretty sure the 1600 and 2000 motors were the only option in the UK. The 1600 was a lot nicer then the 2 liter even if you weren’t going as fast. Enjoyed being rung out.

    Harry’s Garage has a recent video on a special edition Volumex (supercharged) 2.0 coupe https://youtu.be/VcP5EigpHC8 and the Lancia 037 Group B rally car.

    Like 1
  8. Lawrence (Larry) smith

    I have a 1982 Lancia Zagato/Spider, they are great cars ,but you do need to do some engine mods, like put baffles in the oil pan, so you dont lose oil on hard cornering, the power steering parts are the same as some Audi models fairly easy to find, it looks like the windows are manual not electric which is a good thing as the electric motor & rails are very hard to find, im still looking for a drivers side one for my Zagato.Mine is a Washington car and has no rust,it dose need a respray as the paint has faded over the yrs, but with the paint being $500 a pint its going to have to wait,

    Like 1
  9. Maestro1 Member

    Lancias are generally very rewarding to their owners as a driving experience and very esoteric when it comes to parts and service in the US. If you live near a mechanic who knows these cars by all means make an offer or at least go and look at it.

  10. Lawrence (Larry) smith

    I rebuilt my engine 2.0 fuel injected, and a good book to use is Guy Crofts on tuning Fiat/Lancia engines ,Parts are availible for these engines new & used .

    Like 1
  11. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    When much younger & with pockets full of money I shopped the imports stores. Bill’s Imports had the Lancia line as well SAAB, British Leyland & whatever else of the day. I was taken by a dark green HPE, was really a cool looking car. The SAAB 99EMS was from another world in silver with black interior. Wasn’t interested in the British because I had the 68 MGB in the garage. Went down the street to Kling VW & saw a white Scirocco with black corduroy Recarro chairs & that was that.

  12. John

    Beautifully styled? In the eye of the beholder I guess. Fiat made a few cool Lancias (rally cars) but the real gems are the cars produced before Fiat entered the picture.

    Like 1
  13. Joop van den Einde

    I loved this Coupe very much. But beying 200kg heavier then my 128-3p it was in Dutch tax-system to expensive to run on liquid gas. ( Petrol was to expensive to run 30k or more a year) So I stayed my my Fiat 128-3p, and put a 1.5 with 90HP in…. But the class from the HPE I never forget, and at one day I watched one…. Was not to bad, and beying a DIY-mechanic, I got some hope… But then I took a look on the sills underneath the door….. Looked to fat, and must have had a lot of rust. It stood in a dark barn, and it was not easy to check… Better save then sorry, so I let it be…. Great engines, and the changing of the timing-belt is not that difficult, but watch the position of the auxilary cam… Check, double-check….

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