Lancia is one of the most evocative names of the Italian motoring landscape and over the years it has been responsible for some truly great cars – Aurelia, Flavia, Stratos and the fabled Integrale. The company hasn’t had the easiest of times over the years and in the late 1960s it was taken over by Fiat and the first car that was launched under its new ownership was the Beta range. It was offered with an extensive line up of bodystyles encompassing saloon, soft-top, ‘High Performance Estate’ and coupe and with a range of punchy engines they were regarded as excellent driver’s cars in their day.
However, like many Italian manufacturers in the 1970s Lancia’s cars were plagued with rust and reliability issues and the marque’s reputation suffered serious harm in the UK market. As a result the Beta is a rare beast on the UK’s roads these days which makes it all the more amazing to discover this particular example that’s covered less than 70,000 miles during its lifetime. It’s one of the later models and is thus fitted with a 2.0-litre engine and fuel injection and it presents in a seemingly very original and solid condition.
The Beta Coupe we have here was first registered in October 1982 and while the car’s early history isn’t known according to the V5C registration document it had had two owners by the time it was sold to its third owner in 1985. He kept the car until 1995 when he sold it to his son who kept the car until 2021 when it was sold to the current custodian.
The Lancia appears to have been cherished and used sparingly racking up the majority of its mileage in the first five years of its life by which time it had covered 50,877 miles according to the MoT history. Since 1987 it has covered less than 20,000 miles and the current seller tells us that its excellent, solid condition is a result of it being garaged during that time, only being used for local trips.
There are four folders of paperwork to accompany the car but much of the paper trail seems to concern the car’s insurance. However, there are a host of MoT certificates dating from 1987 which certainly verify the car’s mileage. The on-line MoT history trail is equally impressive and since 2005 it has a virtually unblemished pass rate with an exhaust blow, a failed number plate light and misaligned washer jets being its only failures. Since 2005 it has covered less than 3,000 miles.
There are a couple of invoices relating to work that’s been carried out during its life and while there isn’t a stamped service book the way the car runs suggests it’s been maintained during its life. It has a current MoT until May 2022 and there is a V5C to accompany the car.
Overall the Lancia’s interior is in excellent condition for a car that wasn’t perhaps renowned for having the best build quality when new. The grey checked seat cloth is in good condition with no obvious rips, tears or stains but it does appear the driver’s side bolster has been restitched at some point. It’s a neat repair though and doesn’t detract from the interior ambiance.
The rear seats would appear to have only had minimal use during the car’s life while the carpets appear to be in good order, too. The front seat folding mechanisms work as they should to allow passengers access to the rear seats. In general the interior door trim panels are in good order retaining their original cloth and vinyl finish but there is a split between the two materials where they join on the driver’s door panel but it looks to be a relatively straightforward repair.
The dashboard and instruments present well and the dials appear to function correctly – some of the switches look a little worn but still work, as do the electric front windows. In general the Lancia’s interior is in good condition – no significant parts are missing or broken that we could see – and after it’s had a thorough clean and a detail it should look even more impressive.
The boot presents well and the floor under the carpet appears to be solid. There’s a vertically mounted spare wheel and a Lancia-logoed plastic tool kit with what appear to be the original tools still present.
It’s impossible to know whether this Lancia retains its original paint but it has a general patina to suggest that it’s never had any significant work. The number plates both bear the Ivor Hill Lancia and Maserati logo with an old London phone number of 01-946-7702 which could well be the original items as London phone prefixes changed from 01 to 071/081 in 1990, so they’re definitely older than that.
The current owner bought the Lancia with a view to tidying it up and keeping it but has realised that he already has too many cars and realistically it won’t get used so he has decided to sell the Beta Coupe without doing any significant remedial work on it so the next owner can properly see its condition.
There are a couple of small dents and surface imperfections to the paint, but for a Lancia of this era it’s in generally good condition. No doubt some detailing and perhaps a machine polish would restore some of the paint’s lustre. Here and there the matt black dechromed trim is peeling while one of the badges on the boot lid is missing and there is a small dent to the centre of the rear bumper. The lights appear to be in good order.
Given the Beta’s reputation for rust it’s good to be able to report that this example appears to be very solid underneath from what we could see.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine starts and idles cleanly and the seller reports that it drives very well, offering brisk performance. As this is a late model version it benefits from Bosch fuel injection and power steering. Under the bonnet everything appears to be in good order from what we could see and there were no untoward noise to be heard while it was running. The seller believes the Beta to be in good mechanical condition.
Back when the Lancia Beta was new it was lauded for its strong performance, entertaining handling and road manners. It’s a very pretty looking machine too and had it not been for its early reputation for rust we’re sure it would have been a more popular car when it was new.
These days a nice Lancia Beta Coupe is a very rare beast indeed – when was the last time you saw one on the road? This particular Beta presents as a very original example that appears to just require a little bit of tidying to make it an excellent example of the breed.
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