Lancia Beta: Beautiful!

ER Classics Desktop 2022

When Fiat took over Lancia in 1969, the company had ceased to be a technical director the year after the death of technical director Antonio Fessia. Ing. Sergio Camuffo was given the task of developing the new Lancia model in the early 1970s.

What is in a name?

The company chose the name Beta for the newcomer to be launched in 1972. The choice of the name symbolized new beginnings as it paid tribute to the company's founder, Vincenzo Lancia (1881-1937), who used letters of the Greek alphabet for his early creations - such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so on. The name 'Beta' had been used before, for Lancias from 1908 and later for a 1953 bus. Lancia had previously used the first letter of the Greek alphabet, Alpha, but it was not chosen for the new Lancia from 1972 due to the clear confusion it could cause with Alfa Romeo. And only in politics is confusion a valued commodity.

In different flavors

The Beta was made in several body styles, a four-door fastback saloon (Beta berlina), four-door, three-door, sedan sedan (Beta Trevi), two-door coupé (Beta Coupé), two-door Targa (Beta Spider)

Although some of the technical staff had left the company in the difficult years before the Fiat takeover, Camuffo was able to bring together a hard core of Lancia technicians - who were tasked with getting the car into service by the end of 1972. production. Romanini did the chassis design, Zaccone Mina the engine development, with Gilio and Bencini for the testing. All this was done within a very short timeframe and the development budget was also relatively limited. These were key factors influencing the decision to use an existing power source: Fiat's four-cylinder engine with double overhead camshaft and its alloy head and cast iron block.

An optimistic calculation model

At the launch of the Beta in late 1972, Fiat chief Gianni Agnelli told journalists that Lancia production would be around 1972 units in 40.000. That was at a time when a volume of 100.000 units was needed to cover the fixed costs of developing and building the cars. Lancia's limited profitability and resulting capabilities were also evidenced by the lack of replacement models under development at the time of the Fiat acquisition. Much loved, the Lancia Fulvia was developed with little regard for its cost-effective manufacture. So it was expensive to make and expensive to sell. That didn't do sales any good.

Affordable quality

The goal of the new owner of the company with the new Beta was to maintain the quality image and margins of existing Lancias, while keeping development time and production costs to a minimum by leveraging the technology and components of the Fiat group. In the project, a well-known existing Fiat engine was modified, mounted transversely and the front wheels were driven. The gearbox was a derivative of a transmission unit subsequently produced by Fiat partner Citroën was developed. But above all, and unlike the Fulvia, the Beta design was relatively inexpensive to manufacture in volumes significantly higher than predecessor Lancia sedans.


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  1. I am now driving my 3rd HPE. In the 90s a 2000 carburetion (1982) and later a 2000 Volumex (1984). Both rusted away. Now for six months, a 1600 1978 in mint condition, from the 2nd owner in Rome, tectylated from new and not a speck of rust. Proof of purchase was still there. It stood still for years, so yes, had the head overhauled (at Wassenberg in Amsterdam, a real connoisseur of vintage Lancias) and renewed some other moving things. Special car! And you hardly see them in the Netherlands anymore.

    1978 HPE 1600 7a

  2. when I was 21 years old I saw a lancia beta coupe 1975 1800cc
    in the north district, driven for years until it fell apart
    am now 58 years old
    Bought two coupes 17 years ago
    made 1 car out of it
    is now like new, almost ten years on it
    adapted to my taste, original separate spoiler
    16-inch intergral rims below
    dark anthracite metallic color
    absolutely great
    brown leather interior first type
    the value now starts to increase a little
    because most of them no longer exist
    too bad I can't post a photo

    drive really super tight

  3. “The Beta is made in different body styles, a four-door fastback saloon (Beta berlina), four-door, three-door, sedan sedan (Beta Trevi), two-door coupé (Beta Coupé), two-door Targa (Beta Spider)”

    And in this list it is precisely the car that is missing in the picture; the Beta HPE.

  4. In the early 70s, most German, Japanese, British and also Italian competitors drove around with a driven rigid rear axle, often with leaf springs, while the drive often used corresponding old-fashioned technology. The Lampredi DOHC was the engine to beat in the 70s, 80s and 90s and was also in the Delta Integrale, Alfa 155 Q4 and my ex Abarth Ritmo. Beta, Sud and FIAT's own 127 and 128 were extremely modern and it remains a great shame about the Russian slag steel that was used in the early 70s… that did the image a lot of damage as it turns out.

  5. Very nice car! The owner is fortunate to have this gem! I drove a Delta from '92 myself, but after about 12 years it was eaten by the rust devil ... I was also not very pleased with the engine because it sometimes suddenly stopped at cold temperatures and then started very difficult ... Problem is never can be solved ... It is a pity that today this glorious brand only produces Ypsilons for the Italian market ....

  6. Lancia Beta is still a fun car to drive, which attracts a lot of attention and always provides a chat on the road. I am fortunate to have the Spyder variant and I am already looking forward to the beautiful days that will come after the cold winter, roof panel in the trunk and enjoy.

  7. Beautiful interior. Beautiful dashboard gauges, beautiful armchairs, beautiful carriage, with a unique Italian chic cut.
    I would like to drive away on the road from Rome to Naples. From Genoa to Nice. From Maubeuge to Perpignan on the Route Nationale. Or a ride on the dikes of the Maas.

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