After the 1969 Fiat takeover there was urgent need for a model that could
be made and sold profitably to help Lancia back on its feet. The Beta
was of an entirely new design and used many components from Fiat, including
the engine and gearbox that were mounted transversely, driving the front
wheels. It was a modern fast-back four-door saloon and for its name Lancia
went back to the beginning, using letters from the Greek alphabet as it
did from 1906 till the early 1930s. To avoid confusion the A (Alfa) was
skipped and the B was chosen, Beta..
The use of Fiat components and poor build quality have given rise to the
belief that it is not a ‘true’ Lancia, but the Beta was highly
acclaimed by the press when it appeared in 1972 because of its technical
specifications, performance and packaging. And it certainly was a good
car to drive.
Attractive alternative body styles were soon offered, such as the Coupé,
the HPE Estate, the Spider designed by Pininfarina but built by Zagato,
and the mid-engined Montecarlo (Scorpion in the USA).
While the new Thema was in the pipeline a restyle of the Beta Berlina
with a separate boot was introduced, named Trevi (for ‘three volumes’
– nothing to do with that fountain in Rome!). A very special offer
at that time was the Volumex, with a Roots supercharger fitted to the
two-litre engine giving much improved torque and acceleration.
The Beta range offers some attractive designs, but it lacks the traditional
Lancia quality. The unfortunate reputation for rust was mostly a problem
of the first years, later ones were much better, and rust was a typical
problem of many cars in the 1970s.
|All models unitary construction.
Four cylinder double overhead cam Fiat engine, 1297, 1301, 1367, 1438,
1585, 1592, 1756, 1920 and 1995 cc, 82 - 135 pk
Standard five speed on all models, from 2nd series three speed automatic
155-14 - 185/60-14.
2540 mm, Coupe and Spider, 2350 mm, Montecarlo 2300 mm.
990 - 1195 kg.
160 - 200 km/h.