In 1969 Lancia was purchased by FIAT. A year later the first project undertaken by the newly acquired company was the Beta. By 1972 it was debuted to the public at the Turin Auto Show where it was offered as a Berlina, meaning saloon, with a variety of FIAT's dual-cam engines. The base engine was a 1438 cc four-cylinder unit capable of producing 90 horsepower. 100 and 110 horsepower variants were available as optional equipment. By 1973 Lancia had introduced a Coupe, based on the Berlina with similar mechanics but sitting atop a shortened wheelbase.
The famous Italian design studio, Pininfarina, was tasked with designing a convertible based on the Lancia Beta Coupe. Zagato was tasked with building the design. The result was the Spider, known in the United States as the Lancia Zagato. During its production lifespan, 9,390 examples were produced.
The HPE and Montecarlo versions of the Beta were debuted at the 1975 Geneva Auto Show. HPE, meaning High Performance Estate, was built upon the Berlina platform and provided ample seating room and cargo area for its passengers. Even though it was based on the Berlina, it had two doors and was similar in design to the coupe. During its production lifespan, 71,258 examples of the Beta HPE were produced.
The Montecarlo version was designed by Pininfarina for FIAT and offered with a variety of engines. The drive train and other mechanics were borrowed from the Beta. During its production lifespan, only 7,595 examples were produced. Parts of its lack of interest were in its weak horsepower rating and suffering from braking problems. Production ceased briefly in 1978 and began again in 1980. When re-introduced, it was not offered to the US market. Many of its short-comings had received attention and drastically improved the vehicles performance. Sadly, this was not enough and by 1981, the production ceased.
Along with the HPE and Montecarlo, Lancia made modifications to the mechanics and aesthetics of the rest of the Beta model line. A 1995 cc power-plant replaced the 1756 cc unit, except for the versions that were sent to the United States. The 1438 cc engine was no longer offered and the 1592 cc engine was replaced by a 1585 cc unit.
In 1979 the Berlina received styling updates to the interior and the exterior. This was the third series of the Berlina.
In 1980 Lancia introduced the Beta Trevi. Besides its styling differences, it featured a fuel-injected 1995 cc engine that produced 122 horsepower. During its production lifespan nearly 37,000 examples were produced.
By 1981, production of the Berlina ceased with the Spyder continuing for a year before being discontinued. There were over 195,460 Berlina's produced. 111,801 examples of the coupe were created with 9,390 examples of the Spider being built. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2005
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