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It’s certainly no secret that most of us here at ViaRETRO hold classic Lancias in very high regard. Both Søren and Claus have previously owned Fulvias, and while I have yet to put a Lancia in my garage, I’m convinced that day will come. While I’m open-minded about which specific Lancia that may be, I’ll admit that there are of course a few select models which crop up in my dreams more often than others.

While many dyed-in-wool Lancista insist that real Lancias stem from before the FIAT takeover, I’m personally not too concerned about this. Sure there’s a character and ingenuity to those pre-’69 Lancias which perhaps faded a little under FIAT’s rule, but remember that the glorious Stratos came to be under FIAT, and that’s probably all the proof that will ever be required in proving that there was indeed something rather special about Lancia even post-’69.

It wasn’t just the illustrious Stratos though. Both the Beta and the troublesome Gamma are interesting and desirable models in their own right. So much so that we’ve written about both on several occasions here in ViaRETRO, such as when Claus wrote about the broad Beta family or when Søren fell for an early Gamma Coupé which he met at Cars ‘n’ Coffee just north of Copenhagen. I love them all, but ever since childhood it’s been the sexy little mid-engined Montecarlo which has always held a special place in my heart. In fact, we’ve even featured a Montecarlo as a Prime Find previously, and this will be the first time in ViaRETRO history that a given model has the privilege of being featured twice. That really says it all…

The last Montecarlo we featured as a Prime Find was a left hand drive car for sale privately in Italy, but this time it’s a right hand drive UK-market car which will be up for auction with Brightwells at their Leominster auction on this coming Wednesday the 28th of November.

So what, you ask, makes this particular Montecarlo so special? Well in short; the colour and the estimate. It’s a 1978 car making it one of the very last series 1 cars – strictly speaking I should therefore call it by its full name: Beta Montecarlo. It wasn’t until the series 2 cars were relaunched in 1980 that they dropped the Beta name to be called just Montecarlo. Time has however turned this Beta Montecarlo into a little bit of a series 1 / series 2 cocktail, as it has at some point during its life lost the distinctive solid panelled buttresses in favour of the later glazed buttresses of the series 2 cars. It also has a split front grill from a series 2 car, but luckily though, it still retains the other features which are unique to the series 1 cars such as the pretty Vitaloni door mirrors, the funky two-spoke alloy wheels and even the stock two-spoke steering wheel.

In my opinion though, the single most appealing feature has to be the utterly delicious colour of this Beta Montecarlo – the rare and ever so handsome pale pastel blue. The Montecarlo looks nothing short of fabulous in this shade! Which only makes reading the auction description all the more mind boggling, as they kick off with the following words: “Paint it red and call it a Ferrari. Who would know?”, which frankly has to be the single most ridiculous thing anyone could possibly do to this striking Italian Pininfarina beauty. Yet another resale red Italian sportscar is probably the last thing this world needs, and ruining an excellent example of a rare Lancia would be the only thing achieved. Here are a few pictures of the pale pastel blue 1978 Lancia Beta Montecarlo which we have borrowed from Brightwells’ online catalogue:

If only I had more money, more garage space and fewer classic car projects, I would be delighted to be the person to save this Beta Montecarlo from such a devastating destiny. In my ownership, it would live on in all its pale blue splendour. However, I will sadly have to leave that pleasure up to someone else – perhaps even one of our ViaRETRO readers? The estimate has been set at £ 9,000 – £11,000, which I suppose reflects the Lancia not presenting in perfectly factory correct condition. Even so, to my mind it still seems like a very reasonable estimate considering what’s on offer – a rare Pininfarina-designed, Lampredi twincam mid-engined Lancia in a gorgeous colour. I for one will be very interested to see where the bidding goes on this one…

For more details on this Beta Montecarlo, and perhaps even the required information to get yourself to Leominster on Wednesday, here’s the link to Brighwells website. You’ll have to scroll down to “L” in order to find the sexy little Italian.

Brightwells: 1978 Lancia Beta Montecarlo

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

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22 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk
    Like the Montecarlo a LOT, and this example looks lovely – completely agree with you Anders about the “paint it red” comment; it’s a rarer car than many Ferrari’s in the UK anyway (howmanyleft.com shows a total of under 30 for the hardtop and Spyder combined). £10k would make it a bargain in my view.
    Reply
  2. GTeglman
    @tony-wawryk & Mr. Bildt, like many I hold classic Lancias in high regard, but with all due respect, when it comes to the Lanacia Beta I would rather set fire to myself than praise it, even in the slightest way.

    Built in paper thin sheet metal, extremely prone to rust, brakes that would lock up if you just thought of touching the middle pedal. (addressed by adding larger brakes and removing the servo !!), the poorly designed sub-frames, and a overall horrid build quality. The word “quality” shouldn’t even been mentioned in the same sentence as Lancia Beta.

    For me the Beta marks “the beginning of the end” for Lancia as a car maker, which I really find tragic, and it’s probably one of the reason for my rampaging against it.

    Isolated, I will admit that the pale blue color is fantastic.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  3. Claus Ebberfeld
    Great find and I for one will watch where the price ends at the auction. Absolutely agree on the colour – especially as I admired one in the same hue in Bruxelles last weekend, see below. That car was an American import of model year 1976 and therefore called a Lancia Beta Scorpion, and it seemed in rather fine shape – won 3rd at Pebble Beach, not stating in which category. For sale at 25,000 Euro. Hmmm.

    Reply
  4. Anders Bilidt
    @gteglman, it’s always interesting with a bit of perspective. Which you’ve clearly just delivered raw and unsweetened… :-)
    On a serious note, I’ll confess that I can’t really argue with a single of your accusations against the Beta range as a whole. Every one is of course true. But for me personally, I admire the Lampredi twincam engine, and I’ve always been madly in love with the styling of the Montecarlo. Those two factors alone are enough for me. Oh, and then that colour!

    Truth be told though, I’ve never even tried driving a Montecarlo. Many years ago I did have a go behind the wheel of a very early Beta HPE, but I’m sure the driving experience would be very different from a Montecarlo.

    , if a US-market Scorpion is worth Euro 25k in Brussels, that certainly makes this UK-market Montecarlo look decidedly good value!

    Reply
  5. Claus Ebberfeld
    , exactly my thoughts on the value. It has to be said that the one in Brussels WAS very good, though. And what exactly is the value of the words “Pebble Beach Winner”? In the US I am sure that would cost you.
    Reply
  6. GTeglman
    , I would like to donate a kidney for eg. a Lancia Fulivia Coupe (HF), but shape and color can not stand alone IMHO.

    But in addition, I’m really struggling to understand why cars that are undoubtedly poorly built are praised among us classic car aficionados, and why even the most
    idiotic technical solutions are looked at as part of the charm, as long as the heritage is the “right one”. To be honest I find it a little pathetic, though I can’t deny I occasionally have found myself down that particular road…

    Just for argument sake, try to imagine the Beta Montecarlo with a Polonez emblem, and I guarantee you that it would have been remembered as a worthless rust-bucket, built by peasants in a shed. Had it been a Porsche there would have been a riot, and we would have demanded management dragged to the street and kicked in the crotch.

    All the above said, I of course respect that you are of a different opinion ;-)

    Cheers

    Reply
  7. Tony Wawryk
    @gteglman raises some interesting points that go to the root of why we like and sometimes buy a classic – or indeed any car – and would form the basis of a multi-hour, multi-drinks discussion into the night – perfect! I’ll keep this response short, though…
    As has admitted, everything @gteglman says about the Montecarlo is true – when it was new. However, many of the initial problems caused by poor design and execution were resolved later in the car’s life, and those Montecarlo’s that are left are probably better than they originally were, having been (mostly) well looked after and had the faults fixed. Indeed, this could be, and has been said about many cars – almost anything from the BL stable from the late 1960’s to the end, or indeed any Fiat or Alfa (there seems to be an Italian theme here…). When was the last time you saw an early Alfasud on the road, yet we love them despite their inherent poor build quality. Even newer models sometimes inherit old failings – I ran a new Alfa 156 2.5V6 for two years in the late ‘90’s during which time it broke down no less than eight times before I had had enough. It did look great though…
    Would the Montecarlo have been dismissed as rubbish if it were a Polonez? I don’t think so – in the same way that the Toyota 2000GT or Mazda RX-7 stood out against their more mundane brethren, so would a Polonez Montecarlo, not least because of it’s wonderful Pininfarina styling and mid-engine; no matter the badge, these would have attracted a following, though I admit it might not have been given a second chance in the way the Lancia was. Yes, had it been a Porsche, it would have been dismissed as a failure, but mainly relative to the very high bar Porsche has set over the decades.
    Most of us who are not engineers tend to focus on styling and performance – if these match our personal tastes, we’re 3/4 of the way persuaded; I am especially shallow in this regard. Of course, build quality matters – but more so in a new car; as stated, in an old one, most of these issues will likely have been resolved, possibly after much welding. And then there’s the nostalgia factor, often an important element in making a decision on a classic.
    Finally, there’s that undefinable, intangible yet so important feeling that a car generates in us – the Montecarlo makes you look, and look again, and then, despite its obvious failings, you’re hooked….
    Reply
  8. GTeglman
    @tony-wawryk, engineer or not, I give you that styling and performance counts for a lot, but the ability to brake is a performance I value quite high, and here the Beta (also) fails by a mile…- so to speak ;-))

    Pininfarina or not I’m not hooked, and to be honest I do not fancy the Ferrari
    Mondial, (neither the Hyundai Lavita / Matrix), just because they bare the Pininfarina
    signature.

    I’m still convinced that (especially racing) pedigree makes us much more likely to forgive failures, that you would never forgive had it been a bread & butter mark.

    Cheers

    Reply
  9. Tony Wawryk
    @gteglman I guess we’re unlikely ever to agree on the Montecarlo :-), but regarding the brakes, while I accept that it shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place, I understood this problem was solved in the second series of the car?

    And you’re right to say that the Pinifarina badge doesn’t automatically mean a car will be beautiful – I’m no fan of the Mondial either – but it improves the chances :-)

    Reply
  10. GTeglman
    @tony-wawryk Luckily it’s ok to disagree ;-). Regarding the brakes, I recall that the
    problem was solved by removing the brake servo, and adding large brakes, which indeed did take care of the brake lock up problem, but now you really had to put your foot down to stop at all.

    I’m pretty sure that your 2002 handles just as well as the Beta, brakes a hell of a lot better, and it looks even more fabulous (IMHO), so do not even think of flipping die Zitrone !

    The one thing I however will agree with you is that the Pininfarina Badge in general
    improves chances that the car is astonishing.

    Reply
  11. Anders Bilidt
    It’s an interesting discussion fuelled by this Montecarlo, that’s for sure!

    @gteglman, if I my quote you:

    “I’m really struggling to understand why cars that are undoubtedly poorly built are praised among us classic car aficionados, and why even the most idiotic technical solutions are looked at as part of the charm, as long as the heritage is the “right one”.”

    I’m with you 100% regarding your thoughts above! At one point not too long ago, the only classics I owned were BMW and Toyota. You can’t begin to imagine the amount of grief I got from owners of Italian and British classics! Apparently, because their classics require constant maintenance and many thus don’t dare drive them more than an hour or so from home, that made them true and devoted classic car enthusiasts. While, in their view, because my classics were well-engineered quality products, they were therefore soulless and boring, and apparently owning these cars made me a lesser enthusiast. Frankly, what a load of b******s…!

    So I agree with you – shortcomings will simply NEVER make a classic car more interesting or charming. However, that’s not to say that I despite these shortcomings, can’t find a certain classic car appealing. That’s how I feel about the Montecarlo. It has plenty of shortcomings. I acknowledge that, and I do also view these shortcomings as an annoying issue. But for me, the Montecarlo has positive sides to it as well. And these weigh in heavily enough for me to lust after the little mid-engined Lancia.

    But don’t worry – a Montecarlo would never replace any of my two BMW 2002’s! I just wish I could park one next to them… ;-)

    Reply
  12. Tony Wawryk
    “But don’t worry – a Montecarlo would never replace any of my two BMW 2002’s! I just wish I could park one next to them… ;-)”

    Same here, except I only have one 02… :-)

    Reply
  13. GTeglman
    Trust me, driving a Opel GT gets you a fair amount of grief from the same bunch of owners of mainly Italian and British classics, and I can’t help finding it a tad “jersey shore-ish” !

    One of my best friends drives a beautiful JAG E-Type roadster (series 1), and we both like to get under our cars and we often help each other. At one time we both had to
    install new starters. Doing my GT took no time at all, but the JAG took a decade
    because of the very limited space, need for removing carpet in the passengers side, fiddling with nuts and bolts, etc. At one point my friend shouts “Freaking stupid British engineering, why the hell didn’t I bye a German car”.

    The above said I would be happy to park a E-Type, or as earlier stated a Fulvia Coupe next to my Opel GT, but none of them would replace the latter.

    Reply
  14. Anders Bilidt
    @gteglman, owning German classics, I guess its a fate you and I must suffer together… ;-)
    I’l never part with my German classics, but equally, I’m thrilled that I now own a British classic again. I would love to own a Nippon classic again as well. I’ve previously owned a French youngtimer, and that too is something I can easily see myself repeating. And while I have yet to own an Italian classic, it’s something which is bound to happen at some point! Despite your lack of approval, maybe a Montecarlo…
    Reply
  15. GTeglman
    & @tony-wawryk, You two fine gentlemen are more than welcome to park your 2002’s next to mine should you ever be in DK3460 zip code area. I thank you both for a great debate.

    Anders, could you please reveal your current collections of car besides the 2002 ?

    Cheers.

    Reply
  16. Anders Bilidt
    @gteglman, careful what you say, as I might just rock up on your doorstep one day. ;-)
    I do after all still visit Denmark on a regular basis…

    As for cars currently owned by me, well there are the two BMW 2002’s – my red ’73 NullZwei, and my ’72 Green Devil. Then there’s a lovely old barge of a silver ’74 BMW 3.0S, which has been in the family since ’95, but parked up since ’98 and now requiring some tic. Also a first generation 5-series in the form of a light green metallic ’81 BMW M535i. Clearly, that’s a bit heavy on Bavarian classics, so I recently added a ’63 Rochdale Olympic phase 1, which is currently undergoing a very full restoration. It’s great to have a Brit back in the garage. Hmmmm… and does a ’99 Volvo C70 T5 count as a youngtimer yet?? Probably not quite….

    Either way, as it’s only NullZwei (and the Volvo) which are currently ready to go, my main focus is on returning as many of those cars to the road. My next priority will be to get a Jap classic again as I so miss the last one I had. Hmmm… or maybe my first Italian?? Time will tell…

    Reply
  17. GTeglman
    @tony-wawryk I’ll let you know if suddenly should find myself in the Oxford area.
    Oxford has always been high on my “go-to-wish-list, but Goodwood Rivival 2019 or Hursley (work related) will be more likely, though it would be great to meet up.

    Cheers

    Reply
  18. Anders Bilidt
    @gteglman, in case you end up in Oxfordshire, do make sure to combine it with a Sunday Scramble at Bicester Heritage. Trust you me, you won’t regret it! – even though there are usually a couple of Montecarlos to be found out on the lawn at these Scrambles… ;-)
    Reply

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