CLASSIC CAR REVIEWS - LANCIA BETA

When most people think of the Lancia Beta, they hark back to horror stories of the late 1970s and early 1980s – chilling tales of rusting struts, poor drainage, and sub-standard monkey-metal purchased from the Soviet Union.

Up to a point they are right. The Beta was plagued with rust issues and Lancia’s reputation was deeply damaged when it was forced to buy back the affected cars as problems began to surface. However, by the time the Volumex was made, most of these issues had been resolved. Rust-proofing was improved, drainage holes were re-thought and higher quality steel was introduced, making the Volumex a reliable and hard-wearing car, completely undeserving of the derision it attracts from the mainstream motoring press and general public.

The Volumex was the last of the line and, as such, was a technological showcase for the Beta range. The most notable difference was the addition of a supercharger, which boosted power from 120bhp to 133bhp. Though not a huge increase in power, the device hugely improved torque figures, which made the power much more accessible in everyday driving. The Volumex represented the most polished incarnation of the Beta name and was the only model with real sporting pretensions. Uprated suspension was fitted and the chassis was given a Fiat-based DOHC engine developed by former Ferrari designer Aurelio Lampredi. One of the most advanced engines of its time, it would go on to be used in other classic sports cars including the Lancia Delta Integrale and, later, the Fiat coupé.

The Lancia Beta coupé was rare in that it was one of the only models to be constructed not only in Italy but also elsewhere. In 1979, SEAT began to produce the Beta at its newly acquired Pamplona factory, but the arrangement began to crumble due to a disagreement between SEAT and Lancia’s parent company, Fiat. Beta production only lasted for two years, with SEAT opting to partner Volkswagen in 1981 and switching production at Pamplona to the Volkswagen Polo.

Following in the footsteps of its impossibly pretty Lancia forebears, the Beta Volumex is unashamedly good looking from every angle. Whatever pixie dusts or potions Italian design houses sprinkle on cars in the murky gloom of Turin production lines, the Beta has it in spades. It’s sleek lines are set off by a bright red that only Italian motors seem to suit, already giving the impression of speed and agility before being let off its lead.

When you do clamber inside you are immediately struck by the stylish interior, which, despite looking like the bridge of the starship Enterprise, seems to have aged remarkably well. You could be forgiven for thinking that the Beta was born in the 1980s or 1990s rather than the 1970s. A flat, futuristic dashboard replaces deeply recessed dials, not as controversial or striking as on early models, but which, like fine wine, has got better with time. For the first time, power windows came as standard, and windscreen wipers had an intermittent function. All this adds an air of 1980s optimism that is quite unique. Temperature dials do away with needless details, such as the actual temperature, and make do with blocks of colour instead. Green for ‘go’, red for ‘quickly stop before it overheats again’.

The theatre of the car is only enhanced when you put your foot down. Unlike other Beta models which were a bit underpowered, the tiny supercharger stuffs the engine with air, propelling the Volumex along at a fair old clip. Rather than a rumble or a roar, the Beta hums and whirrs like an extra from Batteries Not Included, 133bhp encouraging each gearshift as the engine reaches its buzzing crescendo at 5500rpm. The go-kart steering wheel makes the car feel sharp and responsive, enhancing the feeling of speed when approaching roundabouts and carving through twisty A-roads, all coming together with a magic that Lancia has a knack of capturing.

Recently Added

45343 1Sponsored Ad
1987
€25,500
3.5
  • 147,666
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1094258
Range Rover Classic 3.5 Vogue 4WD * This Range Rover Classic is not present in our showroom, a vi...
17
+31 416 342 474
View details
45336 1Sponsored Ad
2005
€59,500
  • 53,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1094251
Aston Martin DB9 * This Aston Martin is not present in our showroom, a viewing is possible by app...
20
+31 416 342 474
View details
47541 1Sponsored Ad
1930
€28,950
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1100168
A Model A from Ford is a very nice classic American vehicle which has a very high value for colle...
30
+49 2822 5375 722
View details
1400 1Sponsored Ad
2013
€195,000
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA967664
The Bentley Mulsanne stands for luxury, extreme comfort and ultimate pleasure. This Bentley com...
30
+49 2822 5375 722
View details
44758 1Sponsored Ad
1968
£24,995
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1092725
Jaguar Mk 11 340, 1968. Manual with overdrive. Finished in Opalescent Dark Green with Beige Leath...
17
02085 012727
View details
40178 1Sponsored Ad
1968
£35,995
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1082188
Morris Mini Cooper S Mk11, 1968. The coachwork is finished in its original colour of Sandy Beige,...
20
02085 012727
View details
41847 1Sponsored Ad
2007
£20,995
  • 57,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1086922
The redesigned XK debuted in 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany, styled by Jaguar's chie...
5
01798 849 279
View details
34450 1Sponsored Ad
2010
£20,995
  • 69,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1068519
First registered December 2012 (60 Reg) this superb XF R is presented in gleaming Ultimate Black ...
5
01798 849 279
View details
Dscf0585Sponsored Ad
2001
£1,745
2.0
  • 102,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1095679
2001 Y FORD FOCUS 2.0 Ghia 5dr 5 Door Hatchback Blue, Insurance Group 17, 103000 Miles, 2001 FORD...
3
01202 509 343
View details
Dscf1637Sponsored Ad
1968
£17,995
TRAVELLER
  • 49,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1095678
1968 PP MORRIS MINOR 1000 TRAVELLER 4 Door Estate Grey, 49500 Miles, Full Service History, HPI Ch...
16
01202 509 343
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale