Thursday, April 23, 2020

1975 Lancia Beta Sedan - When Was The Last Time You Saw One?

I've written about these in the past. To save time, I am taking some of the text from a 2010 post...

When was the last time you saw one of these?

The Lancia Beta line of cars were Fiat's "upscale" cars in the US during the mid-late seventies. Not econo-boxes meant to compete with VW and the Japanese brands, the Beta was positioned to compete with Alfa Romeo, Saab, Volvo, BMW and Audi. It failed miserably.

On paper the Beta line was brilliant. But they were sold at Fiat dealerships and, with each passing year, Fiat's reputation in the US was getting worse and worse. People just weren't going to the showrooms. To make matters worse, the early Beta sedans rusted like few other cars (except for maybe Fiats) rusted. There were stories of cars showing serious rust 6 months after purchase! (Later cars, like this one, were much improved.)

That's too bad, because these were neat little cars. The Fiat based engine is a gem. It revs like crazy, has plenty of power and, contrary to popular belief, is durable. It is, however, somewhat choked by the old school emissions equipment in the US. The Beta came standard with a 5 speed transmission when many cars were still using 4 speeds. The MacPherson strut suspension was not exotic, but it worked well. The Beta had 4 wheel disc brakes.

The body looked like a hatchback, but was not. It was a fastback with a standard trunk. (Looking like a hatchback probably didn't help sales here in the US, as we used to have the opinion that hatches only belonged on cheap cars.) Betas sold in the US had government mandated diving board bumpers and sealed beam headlights, both of which did nothing for the looks of the car.

The seller of this car does not give a lot of details about it. He says it has 136390 miles on it and the driver's seat is worn. No mention of rust or how it runs. Based on the ad, the car looks to be in nice condition.

If (a big if) it's in decent shape, the asking price is reasonable at $2000.00. However, back in 2017 a really nice one sold on Bring A Trailer for $3333.00. The BaT ad included a ton of pictures and some history. If you have to pay to have this one shipped, you'll be close to that $3333.00 price without knowing much about the car.

If I lived on the other coast I'd be looking at this car today. But I live about as far away from this car as one can and still be in the US. It's too big of a risk without being able to see it. I'll just have to hope it finds a good loving home on the West Coast .

Located in Bellevue, WA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.


pickles said...

First, YAY! You're back! I REALLY dig your perspective on cars and always get excited when you put out a post.

I don't even have much to say about a Lancia, except that growing up in Marin County, California, these were pretty common. I guess people liked unique with guarded prestige. My biggest comment is... man, that is a salty bunch of copy on that ad. Perhaps this seller didn't spend a carrer in copy writing or sales but you can't blame them for their bluntness. Hope someone buys this and has a blast with it. Very cool.

Scottiedog said...

Rare as hens teeth, happy to see a survivor, but never keen on the look of these. Hard to believe you could turn up at the showroom and see this and the beautiful Scorpion/Montecarlo up for sale. That said, its always been the Lancia way, some of the most beautiful (Fulvia) and the most ugly (Thesis), at least you can't say there bland.

Just a Car Geek said...

Pickles - Ha! He added the entire first paragraph to his ad after I posted this. I guess he got tired of answering questions. It doesn’t make you want to call on the car. I don’t get ads (people) like that. I don’t think there is a word count on Craigslist, so why not spend an extra 15 minutes and be super descriptive? Especially when you’re selling a car like a Beta that has known issues.

Not sure I’m “back,” but I’m going to try to do more. ;-)

Anonymous said...

...also bumped the price up to a cool $5k. Rare does not always equate to desirable, but not a sight I've seen on the road in years.

Just a Car Geek said...

$5K is crazy. The one I mentioned in the post that sold on BaT for $3333.00 appears to have been in better shape and had some history in the ad.

Maybe he really doesn't want to sell it. "Look honey, I tried to sell the Lancia, but no one bought it. I guess I'll have to keep it." ;-)