The Lancia Beta Coupe was designed by much the same team that designed the Fulvia coupe some 10 years previously, headed by Aldo Castagno with Pietro Castagnero but it was dynamically better in every way. Like the Fulvia it was based on a shortend saloon chassis, 190mm wheelbase and 295mm overall reduction gave it short over hangs. Weight was reduced by over 100kg together with more powerful versions of the saloons Lampredi twin cam 1800 and 1600 engines. Steering box and cart springs of the fulvia were replaced by rack and pinion steering, with coil over MacPherson struts all round, wish bones at the front with anti-roll bars and independent at the rear with parallel transverse links and anti-roll bars, a unique design which Lancia should have patented, it worked so well that it was widely copied. These cars handled extremely well, that in road tests of the day it was shown capable of developing 0.8G of lateral force in cornering, with 175 profile tyres! It also had crushable crumple zones and reinforced doors, orthopedic designed seats, adjustable steering wheel, fade free servo assisted disc brakes. 16v 190bhp rally versions of the early 1800 coupe where pitted along side the Stratos with considerable but unspoken success almost to the point of embarrassing the Stratos. On several occasions the leading Beta was told to wait for the second place Stratos to overtake (team orders) but more often than not the leading Beta would break due to its ultimate lack of development for rallying. The Lancia Beta Coupe is a serious candidate the the title of 'Most underated car of all time', most people just seam to remmember it for the 'R' word.
They may have been dynamically better than the Fulvia but the build quality wasn't and the rate of attrition has been considerable, especially the early S1 and S2 pre face lift cars, trying to find a decent car is nigh on impossible even in Italy.
The first time I drove one of these was in 1988, a chap who lived locally heard of my interest in Lancias, he owned a 2000 Beta Coupe early S2 in Finlandia green with mustard yellow interior. (only the Italians could make that combination work!) He'd bought it new. I'd owned several Fulvias up to this point and thought they were the best thing since sliced bread. I'd also owned a few (for then) moderns a Golf GTI mk 1 with a GTI Engineering 135 pack and an MR2 amongst others. The Beta was a revelation, it would run rings around anything I'd previously driven, it could cover ground so rapidly and with so little effort, it was best on the limit, where the others would get ragged and twitchy the Beta came alive. It was relatively quiet and very comfortable. Sadly the car died some 10 months after I bought it, the chimney came off a neighbours house in a storm and landed on it. I then bought a Mk2 GTi to replace it but that was so dull I bought another Beta Coupe a later series 2 carbuettor car which is still in the garage.
This particular car is an early S2 It is a rust free car originally registered in Florence in 21/4/1977 in an unusual colour scheme of silver with green cloth. It still has a complete book pack including the service booklet. There are also a good few recipts totaling around €4000 for things like the cambelt, rear shock absorbers, gearlinkage bushes, gearbox oil changes ball joints wheel bearings brake work, rebuilt carburettor etc. etc.
Is completely rust free and original, all the factory spot welds are still visible in the wheel arches and sills and the jacking points are perfect.
Is in excellent and completely original condition carpets are as new, the seats are in good condition although the material is a little faded.
It is fitted with its original radio from 1977 a rare find from Italy, they're nearly always removed.
Engine, gearbox and drive train.
The engine is in excellent condition, compressions all in the 180's. It pulls very well with not a whiff of smoke.
The gearbox is also spot on, the week point here are the gear linkage bushes, all of which have been replaced on this car, it has also had the main engine mount replaced and all the lower wishbone ball joints and bushes have been replaced.
The most underated car of all time?
I think so.
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