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Lancia Montecarlo

Lancia Montecarlo Published: 19th May 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Lancia Montecarlo
Lancia Montecarlo
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£4500-£12,000+ - Mid-engined supercar drive - Good value for money - Rare and distinctive

Lancia’s Beta Monte Carlo, to give this budget supercar its full title, is the big and faster brother to Fiat’s X1/9 and was indeed initially to be called the X1/20. The Monte of the 1970s is a glorious mix of the good and poor, something only the Italians can get away with; a pretty Pininfarina shape, decent performance, mid-engine handling, (with potentially dicky brakes) and dubious build quality. But what a car that’s rarer than a Ferrari 308, but so much cheaper to buy and run and, crucially, just as much fun.


The X1/9 always cried out for more power and on the face of it, big brother Lancia was the perfect answer although it’s not as speedy as those looks suggest. The mid-engined Monte Carlo has the balance and poise you’d expect provided that it’s not pushed too much, during cornering.

What was the initial major worry was the bad braking on the original versions prone to locking under certain circumstances such as wet roads. The brake servo was blamed, as it only worked on the front wheels; ditched for Series 2 models in favour of bigger 9.9in discs and a variable braking control device. Improved spring and damper rates encouraged more competent handling, and torque was improved by fitting a Magneti Marelli electronic ignition system.

This sporty Lancia is relatively easy to climb into, much roomier, plusher and practical than the Fiat although still not too refined for touring but the targa roof works quite well.

Best models

Lancia tried to address the numerous problems afflicting the early models by withholding the entire production for two years (1978-1980) in order to sort out the deficiencies so Series 2s, are logically the best buys although many S1have been modified by now. Stateside cars are badged Scorpions and have positively tepid 1.8 power.


We’re not kidding when we say that the Lancia is a cut price 308; excellent examples can be bought for not much more than £12,000 and half this will buy fairly tidy examples. Of the 7500 made up to 1984, around 1000 were UK cars but LHD examples remain fairly plentiful, however.

Buying advice

Given its Beta name, it’s good to know that the saloon’s dropping front subframe debacle doesn’t affect this mid-ship supercar – but is known to fracture instead. The rest of the bodywork needs careful scrutiny, especially the doors and their B post, suspension turrets and inner wings. It’s reckoned that post 1981 cars are better rustproofed though there is no hard evidence of this.

According to The Monte Hospital (www. “nothing is impossible” in terms of parts and repairs. The Midlands-based specialist says something like 200 remain with about 50 really nice ones around – although an increasing number of owners are now spending serious money (£20,000 on parts alone in some cases) on theirs to make good again.

Head gaskets can give in at around 60,000 miles so do the usual checks for this and signs of replacements. Cambelt changes are critical and don’t forget the tensioner assembly – check to see whether it’s been done.

Early cars used Fiat X1/9 hubs and these are sealed (welded) items. Leading specialists modify them, so inserts can be fitted. Importantly, the suspension geometry must be set up accurately, a job only for known Montecarlo specialists.

Or how about this one?

Beta Spider:

This four-seater with a novel part cabrio, part targa roof design (;eft) is a derivative of the lovely Beta Coupé, styled by Pininfarina and built by Zagato – what a pedigree and yours for £4000-£8000 depending upon condition!

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