Lancia Beta Berlina

Picture of a Lancia Beta Berlina
Berlina: Australian Berlina
How to describe the Berlina? Essentially a four-door, two-box design, with a sharply raked rear making it look rather like a contemporary hatchback despite the more traditional trunk (the closest approximation I can give would be an Italianised Rover SD1). In addition, the front grille was slanted back quite sharply compared to the Coupe-based cars, though this probably had little effect on the aerodynamics.

The styling of the car was typically referred to as 'unexciting', and the Berlina's biggest problem was that it was rather upstaged by its flash cousins, the Coupe, HPE, and Spider. Some people would agree with the 'unexciting' tag, or even perhaps go as far as 'ugly', the hurried Fiat styling job not to their liking despite its vague resemblance to some previous Lancia models. Others claim it's something of a 'Cinderella', overlooked despite its good points -- for example the Berlina has the best passenger accommodation, is avoided by the 'boy racer' crowd (and hence is likely to have been better maintained), and can be bought and insured for much less than the other models. In return, however you get slightly worse handling than the shorter-wheelbase cars, though still good even by current standards (and Berlinas have been raced successfully in amateur series!).

Aside from the new engines, the second series cars had a number of small modifications, including changes to the rear windows to improve visibility and deeper side windows. The third series added the Trevi 'USS Enterprise' dashboard and the front grille and headlights were changed to the Trevi configuration. Few series three cars were imported into the UK, and there was no Volumex version (the Berlina had been replaced by the Trevi by that time).

Several 'specials' were made; the 'Mizar' was a Michelotti design, a four seat sedan with four gull-wing doors and flip-up headlights, based on the 1800 Berlina. The car was displayed at the 1974 Geneva motor show, but not taken into production. The 'FF V Lancia' was another variant of the 'Mizar', with the same front treatment but otherwise a standard Berlina body.

The final variant was the 'Medusa', by Giugiaro, a four door sedan with a Beta drivetrain mounted at the rear, and again a sharply-raked hood with flip-up headlights. The car was highly aerodynamic with a drag coefficient of only 0.26, however it was rumoured to handle like a mad cow.

Production (approx) : total 195,500, US 1,800

Despite the large Berlina production run, advertisements for Berlinas for sale are increasingly rare. There are a number of dedicated owners who wouldn't replace their cars with anything else, and it's possible that the remaining Berlina owners simply don't want to sell them, but sadly it does appear that many of them are being scrapped at the age when Coupes, HPEs, etc are being restored ready for another decade or two of life.

Maintainer: Andrew Cliffe
Last update: 1st April 2001