Lancia Beta Montecarlo: The rare & underrated ’70s sports car

Lancia Beta Montecarlo

Just 2577 examples of the mid-engined Lancia Beta Montecarlo were built and survivors in original condition are rare. But this car was owned from new by a Ferrari-owning couple in Italy, who had it protected with underbody wax – saving it from the usual rust problems.

The two-seater mid-engine Lancia Beta Montecarlo came onto the market in September 1975. Pininfarina had developed both the body structure and the exterior design for the first time in a production vehicle. The car was to be both sporty and comfortable, and it was ahead of its time in terms of simplicity: wedge shape, hardly any chrome trim and a front made entirely of black plastic. And it was also technically advanced with its mid-engine layout.

In the summer of 1976, the “Automobil Revue” praised the agile and safe handling of the car as well as the very good suspension comfort due to the modern independent wheel suspension. After the concept of the mid-engine had proven unbeatable in racing, the first mid-engine cars came onto the market in the late 1960s. Even now, the elaborate design is rarely used due to the complexity and has generally been reserved for supercars only.

The Montecarlo is powered by a two-litre twin cam engine, which produces 120 PS (88 kW). The engine was developed by the ingenious engine designer Aurelio Lampredi, who also developed the large V12 engines for Ferrari.

For the US market, a less powerful version with 88 PS (65 kW) was also available under the name “Scorpion”, which met the stricter emission standards. It can be recognised at first glance by its round folding headlights. 1801 units of this version were built.

Lancia’s successful and beautiful racing cars 037 and the Beta Montecarlo Turbo were based on the Montecarlo, and Hans Heyer’s winning of the German Racing Championship in 1980 even led to the resumption of production of a slightly modified version in March 1980 for another year.

The Montecarlo cost 27,600 DM, which was more than a comparable Porsche 924 and was aimed at a small, demanding clientele. In addition to the coupé version, a Spider version was also available as an alternative. Altogether only 5777 units of the European Montecarlo were built. Only 2577 of them were Spiders, like our vehicle. For comparison, more than 165,000 examples of the Porsche 924 were built.

So even as a new car it was not a mass-market product and due to the admittedly poor rust prevention only a few examples have survived the last four decades.


A rare well-preserved Lancia Beta Montecarlo for sale

This particular 1978 Montecarlo was waxed thoroughly with Dinitrol and has thus been astonishingly well preserved. The car was delivered new within Italy. About 20 years ago the car was bought by a German collector. He has confirmed that he bought the car from an older couple, who were the original first owners of the car. Both also drove a Ferrari, which is why the sticker of the Ferrari Club Sieci is on the car, in which both were members.

When the car came to Germany, it became part of his collection and was only sporadically driven with short-term licence plates. For most of the time it stood dry and safe in the collection and was thus exceptionally well preserved. Only shortly before the sale in 2018 did he have the car registered to obtain German documents. After that, he sold the car to the last owner through a specialised company in Bavaria. Before the car was handed over, it was extensively technically overhauled by this company in order to repair some of the damage due to the car standing unused for so long.

Afterwards the underbody was again thoroughly sealed with wax to preserve the very good structure for the future. The vendor, Bastian Voigt Collectors Cars in 33415 Verl, Germany, already had an eye on the car during the restoration and did not hesitate for long when the opportunity arose to purchase the car.

It will be difficult to find a comparable Montecarlo Spider. It’s ideal for fans of Italian design and collectors of rare pieces and an ideal companion for the coming season.

You can find more information about the Lancia Beta Montecarlo here.

Text and photos Bastian Voigt Collectors Cars

Author: Paolo Ollig

As editor-in-chief Paolo regularly writes about all the big and small stories related to classic cars and motorbikes. Classic dreams: Lamborghini Countach and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

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