Acquiring a mid-engined, Pininfarina-built, Italian classic would normally require pretty deep pockets, both to buy and run, but there are one or two exceptions though, one of which is the distinctive Lancia Beta Montecarlo. The first car to be fully designed and built in-house by Pininfarina, this compact two-seat sports car was originally intended to be sold as the Fiat X1/20, however, once the opportunity to offer the car at a higher premium presented itself, the responsibility of development was delegated to Lancia.
Despite the name, it shares very little else in common with the regular Beta. Early on in the development phase it was powered by 3.0-litre V6 engine mounted behind the driver, but with the arrival of the 1973 oil crisis and its necessary economies, the decision was made to change to a 1995cc twin-cam four-cylinder. The Montecarlo was offered as either a Coupé or a Convertible, the latter featuring a 'targa-like' opening with a manually retracting roof.
Two versions of the Montecarlo were produced over a six year period. The first, known as the Beta Montecarlo, was released in 1975 with an inline-four cylinder producing 118bhp, enough for a sub-10 second, 0-60 time and a top speed of 119mph. Alloy wheels measured 13 inches, while the cabin was trimmed in vinyl, with fabric upholstery an optional extra. A total of 5,638 Beta Montecarlos were manufactured, 3,558 were coupés, the remainder being convertibles.
Two years later, the second-generation (S2) model appeared, which along with a brake fix (which involved fitting larger front discs and calipers, and removing the servo altogether) introduced a number of updates. The front-end styling featured a new split grille design first seen on the Delta a year earlier, while the buttresses were partly glazed to improve rear visibility. At the back, an aluminium strip sits in place of the body coloured metal where the badging was located previously. A new alloy wheel design, measuring 14 inches, was necessary to house the larger brakes. Inside, the Montecarlo (the Beta prefix was dropped for the second-gen model) gained new materials and the two-spoke steering wheel was replaced with a three-spoke Momo, ‘de riguer' for Ferraris of the period. Mechanical changes were fairly limited. The engine gained a higher compression ratio, new carburettors and electronic ignition to improve drivability, while the suspension geometry was also revised. Production ran for a single year, with 1,123 coupés and 817 Spyders produced.
Offered here is a fantastic example of Lancia's ‘baby Ferrari' with only 23,800 miles and three owners from new it is totally original. Importantly, it's the final evolution of the Series 2 and is one of only 172 UK RHD examples built in total. Supplied new by Lancia main dealer, Cloverleaf Cars of Basingstoke, it was purchased by our vendor in February 1984 when it had covered 8,900 miles and has remained with him since. Finished in Red with a mixed grey interior, the car appears immaculate and has patently been well cared for. The bodywork and trim look unmarked and the engine bay is excellent. The comprehensive history file contains the original purchase invoice showing that a Lancia Fulvia 1.3S had been part exchanged. All the original owners books, tools, manuals and two sets of keys are present together with the old MoTs. It has a new MoT through to February 2017 showing no advisories. If ever there was a perfect haven for an investment this great little ‘mini Ferrari' must surely be it. Faultless to drive and in need of nothing except an appreciating new owner to further cherish and enjoy.