Hooniverse Weekend Edition – A Lancia Beta Berlina on eBay

Welcome to another Hooniverse Weekend. I thought I would start out by cleaning up our email in-box with the tips and suggestions we receive from enthusiastic fans. And why not start with a rare and unusual Lancia that was offered here in the states for a very short time, and is now for sale on eBay. (Hat Tip to Richard Scroggs)

The Beta was the first model introduced by Lancia after the take over from rival Fiat in 1969. Before the Fiat takeover, Lancia has a distinct absence of replacement models under development. Fiat’s objective with the new Beta was to retain the quality image (and resulting price premium) of existing Lancias, while minimizing development time and production costs by using in-house Fiat technology and parts as far as possible. In contrast with the Fulvia, the Beta design was relatively inexpensive to produce with volumes significantly higher by previous models.

This particular Lancia Beta is a 1978 model with only 92,000 original miles. Like the contemporary GM mid-sized sedans, this is not a hatchback model, but a “fastback” sedan! This sedan has been treated to a myriad of work, and according to the listing:

• New alternator.
• New timing and water pump belts.
• New thermostatic sensor for electric fan.
• Rebuilt carburetor.
• Check ignition system, set points gap and timing.
• New flexible fuel lines.
• New Carter P60504 fuel pump.
• New Sumitomo HTR200 175/70HR14 tires.
• New exhaust system from the cat back
• New smog pump belt
• New stock-spec strut inserts
• Final tuning/set-up by Jaan Hjorth at EddinsMoto, since I wasn’t able to figure it out myself. He installed flexible fuel lines running through the interior of the car, rejetted the carb, verified the cam timing, and set ignition timing.
• New interior sound insulation, since the old stuff got soaked in the fuel leaking from the old rusty fuel line.
• Update: New oil pressure gauge and warning light sending units just installed, showing solid pressure.
I have records to document all work done, and some records all the way back to the car’s purchase in 1978, including the window sticker. Also comes with the Lancia factory manual and a Haynes manual.

The bidding for this particular car is up to $611.27, with an unmet reserve. So, what do you think this rare and dignified Lancia should sell for? See the eBay Listing here.

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  1. M600 Avatar

    Ooooh tasteful Italian mid-luxury motoring!

  2. Jim-Bob Avatar

    Fuel lines run through the interior? Now that's Italian engineering at it's finest! Also, am I the only one who thought this was a 4 door Chevette on first glance? The similarities in shape and color are quite striking. I imagine the reliability and performance is probably similar as well…

    1. tonyola Avatar

      I'd bet the Chevette is much more reliable. Like many '70s US-market Fiats, the American Beta used the 1,756 cc DOHC four producing around 80 hp. While I've never driven a Beta, I've driven a couple Fiats from the era and the engine provides adequate performance while giving off nice rorty sounds. It's definitely faster than a Chevette.

      1. Joe Btfsplk Avatar
        Joe Btfsplk

        Think it would hold up as a pizza delivery car? Chevette's were outstanding!

        1. tonyola Avatar

          Is a Chevette tough and durable? Sure. Is it outstanding? Er, that's going a bit too far. The Fiat/Lancias were much more drivers' cars, even if they didn't last very long.

      2. scroggzilla Avatar

        Lancia developed their own hemi cylinder head for the Fiat engine.

        1. tonyola Avatar

          Was this true of the US market cars too? I had heard that Fiat used the same 1.8L engine in 124s, 131s, Betas, and Scorpions to simplify the emission certification process. The horsepower ratings were basically the same.

    2. Jim Brennan Avatar
      Jim Brennan


  3. facelvega Avatar

    If it really is rust-free underneath, it's worth at least three grand and would be a nice drive. However, the chances that this is the case are approximately one in five hundred, and the ebay listing does little to reassure the prospective buyer on this front.
    I noticed last year that reasonably well-kept Beta Zagatos and Scorpions are trading for cheap, so it's hard to imagine spending bigger cash on the family version of the same car. The Beta is also in a weird place in the company's history– already so tremendously a Fiat, but somehow still with the smack of Lancia engineering genius that lasted through the Gamma and then disappeared. (the Delta Integrale is great, sure, but it's not really a Lancia in the old sense).

    1. tonyola Avatar

      The Beta was an interesting car. Too bad it wasn't better. A long time age I read an article in CAR magazine about how these Lancias rusted away even while sitting on dealer's lots in the UK. I understand that things were so bad, Lancia was forced to implement a buy-back program. It's interesting that even now when some Chryslers are intended to be rebadged as Lancias for Europe, the Lancia name will not be used in the UK. Imagine – the Chrysler name is seen as being easier to sell than Lancia!
      I can tell you that Fiat/Lancia also had severe rust problems in the US. I used to live in Cocoa Beach and I remember seeing Lancias that could have been no more than two years old looking like they spent years sitting in the bottom of a vat of acid. The bodies were literally crumbling away. That's what Fiat gets for using Soviet steel. My brother's '74 124 Spider also had rust appearing after two years and he lived inland.

  4. Jim Brennan Avatar
    Jim Brennan

    Hoon-nibbles is at is again…

  5. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    As it turns out, the number halfway between 6 and 18 is 'Beta', not 12. Who knew?

  6. dukeisduke Avatar

    I remember going to see the Betas at the State Fair of Texas. Back then, they put all the foreign cars, save Volkswagen, in the World Exhibits Building (now called the Centennial Building), rather than the Automobile Building, with all the weird stuff like the handmade brass goods from India. They had four models here in the US, sadly all horrible rusters.

  7. Robert Emslie Avatar
    Robert Emslie

    Geez, I think I Nice Price or Crack Piped this very same car last year. The Lancia Beta Berlinas are like high school shoegazer bands, there's just nobody who gives them a second look.

  8. Armand4 Avatar

    See that last picture, where the Beta is leading a 911 and a 2002? I took part in that very rally (this was two or three years ago) and this car was the first Beta Berlina I had ever seen. In fact, it's still the only Beta Berlina I've ever seen. How rare is the Beta Berlina? I've seen more Lambdas on the street than Beta Berlinas, despite the Lambda's 55-year head-start on rusting.
    The Beta has a justified reputation as a horrible rustbucket, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for it. It's corrupted by Fiat's influence, so it's not a "true Lancia" like a Fulvia, but it's still interesting in a very Italian way. And when I met this one on that rally, the driver seemed to be having fun and was moving along at a good clip. This thing will never be a valuable collectible, but it deserves a good home and an understanding owner– hopefully someone who will invest a little time and money to keep the tinworm at bay.
    A final note: I haven't met him, but I'm told that Jaan at EddinsMoto is an absolute genius, especially when it comes to Lancias. If he did the final tuning, I'd wager it was done well.

  9. oldcarjunkie Avatar

    I've seen exactly one of these over here and it was in the scrapyard. Interesting for sure and from what I understand decent driver's cars. The air filter housing looks very similar to the ones I had on my Lada Nivas.
    <img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/121/301152208_7b5a16ebbf.jpg&quot; width="500" height="375" alt="1978 Lancia Beta Berlina">