Lancia Beta

Production Timeline · Manufacture · Engine Options · Buying A Beta · Technical Questions  


To simplify classification of the numerous different varieties of Beta, I've used LHD to refer to non-US left-hand-drive cars, RHD for right-hand-drive cars (typically UK, Australia and New Zealand), and LHD(NA) for the left-hand-drive cars sold in North America (I'm assuming that the Canadian cars were catalyst-equipped and detuned like those sold in the USA, hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong).

In addition, though I've tried to standardise on US usage, UK names and spellings have sometimes crept in, for example 'windscreen' rather than 'windshield', and 'bonnet' rather than 'hood'. Also, any references to 'left' and 'right' refer to orientation as seen from the driver's seat, and comments in square brackets or figures shown as question marks indicate uncertainty; corrections and confirmations gratefully accepted.

Background Information
Coupe HPE
Montecarlo/Scorpion/O37 Spider
Berlina/Sedan Trevi
Beta Models
In 1969 Lancia were in major financial difficulties. After initial interest from Ford the company was sold to Fiat for the nominal sum of one lira per share, with Fiat taking over debts of some tens of millions of dollars. Among Fiat's first decisions after taking control of the company was that a new model had to be designed and put into production in a very short period of time, and for relatively little money. In order to do this, the traditional Lancia narrow-angle V engine was abandoned, and the decision was made to design and build a new engine based on the Fiat twin overhead cam inline four cylinder engine that was being developed for the Fiat 132 (which was itself a higher capacity version of the engines used in the Fiat 124 and 125).

Unlike the Fiats, however, the new Lancia was to be a front-wheel drive model with the engine mounted transversely ahead of the front axle, and an inline five-speed gearbox and differential. This required significant changes to the engine design, with a new cylinder head and manifolds and different carburettors. This new engine produced rather more power and torque than the equivalent fitted to the 132.

The new car was to be a five-seater monocoque sedan with all the major mechanical parts fitted to a separate front subframe, independent suspension, roll-bars front and rear, and servo-assisted twin circuit four-wheel disk brakes with a limiting valve to prevent the rear wheels locking. Styling was contracted out to Fiat as Lancia's own styling department were working on the coupe that would be released shortly after the sedan, and the final design was practical and spacious if not tremendously attractive.

In November 1972 the resulting Beta Berlina was introduced at the Turin motor show, offered with a choice of 1400, 1600 and 1800 cc engines, and two levels of trim in the higher-capacity models. In 1973 the Beta Coupe was introduced, to be followed by the Coupe-based Beta Spider, the HPE, the Trevi three-box sedan and the Montecarlo two-seat mid-engined coupe and spider.

Maintainer: Andrew Cliffe
Last update: 1st April 2001