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Discussion Starter #1
I've got an opportunity to buy an 82 Lancia Zagato for about $2,200. The paint is a 10 footer, interior has been redone, new rear window-top, runs great, just a good daily driver car. If you have experience with these cars, please weigh in with comments. If you don't have experience but want to comment anyway, please do, it won't hurt my feelings.
 

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do you have any pics?

would you be getting the car repainted or just buying it as is and enjoying it?

i have seen a few at my alfa mechanic and the owners have always commented on what a fun car it is to drive.

to purchase a good running car for $2,200 that does not need any work is a great buy but for it to be an italian car all the better.

go for it! look at it this way - you can always sell it down the road for what you paid for it.
 

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Betas are great cars. Personally, I prefer the looks of the Coupé to those of the Zagato (I've owned 3 Beta Coupés over the years), but mechanically they're identical. The Beta was engineered and introduced after the Fiat takeover, but the engineering was entirely by Lancia.

The engine is Lancia's version of the Lampredi-designed Fiat twincam; Lancia was allowed to completely re-engineer the engine. Very few components are interchangeable, and the Lancia verison is smoother and puts out a couple more bhp. The transverse-engine FWD chassis is quite sophisticated, with neutral and very stable handling. The steering is a power-assisted rack, with great road feel--the best of any assisted steering I've ever driven. Brakes are terriific--fully redundant at the front.

Back East, I had a '75 (1.8L w/ carbs) as my daily driver, for a 55-mile commute--half on two-lane farm roads and half on an interstate--and it typically took 45 mins door to door (except in the snow, when it took a little longer, mostly because I just ran Pirelli P6 year-round, rather than snow tires). In the two years I did that, I changed the plugs once, the oil three times, replaced a battery that blew up in sub-zero temps, and replaced the brake pads once a year (I went through a set of Ferodo HDs every 12,000 miles or so--brake late and hard, I always say). But that's all the maintenance it required. They're just incredibly capable cars.

Out here in SoCal, I had a '79 (2.0L w/ carbs) and an '81 (2.0L w/ injection), both of which were daily drivers. The '79 was a crap car that had been badly maintained; quick, but recurring electrical problems. But the 15-YO '81 that replaced the '79 was as every bit as reliable as the 4-YO '75 had been. And of the three, the injected '81 was by far the best--identical to the '82 you're looking at. The injection is Bosch L-Jetronic, which was the state-of-the-art system at the time, and brought the power of the US cars closer to the European ones.

A lancista around here still uses his Beta Coupé as his daily driver. I'd happily do the same if I had space for a third car and could find a good example. Even with mediocre paint, if the car you're looking at is basically rust-free, it's hard to see how you could possibly go wrong for $2200.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the comments. I have a few photos that I copied out of the advert. More photos coming today. The car has been in his family for 20 years and he claims to have reams of receipts. It has 92k miles. I don't plan to repaint the car, just drive and enjoy it. I wasn't really looking for a Lancia but I thought for only 2200 bucks it could be fun spring / summer car.

Any issues with the leaking tops on these cars? What else should I look for regarding problems? Where are the problem rust areas?

Alex
 

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Alex, We have had 79 and 81 Beta coupes and an 82 Zagato and they are fun cars.

Things to watch out for are exhaust manifold issues and dizzy set up out the back of exhaust cam.

Changing subject Skip ended up getting that Euro 2L Alfa engine, tranny and remains of rusty step nose.
 

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Seems reasonable.. Ed would know.. I'd try to get it real cheap... like real cheap...The market isn't exactly red hot in Jan for eclectic cars.. and ask q's of Bayless and IAP what stuff costs and what stuff is unobtanium, i.e brakes, booster, i.e.
 

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Go for it - I have always wnated one of these. Fuel injected? How is the body, looks good but has rust b en repaired? Looks good in the photos. Go to the IAP website and get an idea for parts prices/availability. Many but not all shared with Fiat (i.e. supsension different). I do not like the bumpers removed, but that is matter of taste. For something Like $1,500 can't really seem to go wrong as long as it works! Let us know what you do.
 

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We are at odds on price right now. He wants $2,900 which really ain't much for any car these days, but it has plenty of little issues that annoy me. Like you have to turn the key about three times to get it to start, has a fart-can muffler (sounds like a teenager's civic), top is checked and needs to be sanded and repainted, bumpers are in Charlotte NC. It his however solid and runs well which says a lot. At this point I have moved on.
 

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$2200 sounds a lot better than $2900 if it has issues. But if it runs well (once it starts), even the higher number isn't bad; it's hard to find anything decent for that kind of money, and an injected Beta is a good car, as I mentioned before. The exhaust system sounds pretty silly, but that's not an expensive fix.

As far as typical rust areas, other than wheel arches and sills, on a Beta you want to check the base of the windshield at the A pillar. And with a Zagato, anywhere a leak in the rear soft top would let in water. In fact, if it has no obvious rust issues, I'd say anything under $3k sounds entirely believable.
 

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I probably had the best one in the country about 10 years ago. A Ford engineer once had it and the Ford shop that works on show cars did the entire interior dash and all in tan leather. Even the underside of the hard top! Rust has been described well above. Mine was a 79 that we put a Lancia Delta turbo on so the engine was way past go also. The other thing I would mention is the AC is marginal at best. So as a DD it would not have worked here in Texas for me.

Torque steer is great and wet road holding is not that good. Wipers are a weak area for most cars this vintage. Mechanical parts are pretty easy but beware of front wheel bearings(big job). There is some other somewhat easy most of the time front job that requires dropping the engine but I can't remember it now? Body parts are non-existant.

I sold it for rear wheel drive as that part of the car was not fixable. I had young children at the time and the pics of them riding in the back with the top down are great! Well worth the buy just for those pics Saturday night at the drive up burger spot!!
 

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Scole,

If you had torque steer in a Beta, then the rod ends needed replacing or the steernig rack was shot; in good shape they exhibit no torque steer. Wet roadholding is generally exceptional--I regularly ran my '75 in rain and snow--so I'd suspect lousy tires (or whatever worn parts were causing the torque steer). You're absolutely right about the AC, though--utterly useless, if it even worked at all.

And of the three Beta Coupés I've owned, the '79 was by far the worst; not really bad, just not nearly as good as the '75, let alone the injected '81. And all of the carb'd Betas were strangled in US spec. In fact, the '79s were rather notorious as the worst of the 2-litres--carb and too many systems unique to '79 only. So your turbo'd '79 probably made no more power than a stock injected '81. The earlier 1.8L US cars made a pathetic 86 bhp, but even with increased displacement, the 2.0L '79 only made 87 bhp--a pathetic 1 bhp increase. By contrast, the injected US cars made a more-respectable 108 bhp--nearly 25% more--and with better drivability.
 

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Ed,

Front end was completely gone through, no worn parts. Tires I can't remember the brand but were new also. I am comparing handling to much newer cars as that is what we all get a custom to.
 

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There was something wrong with your Beta if it exhibited torque steer; if it wasnt the rod ends. I'd guess alignment or toe. And I drove my '75 in rain, snow, wet leaves, you name it, with its Pirelli P6. And with FWD and a compensating rear suspension, if you got into a corner too hot, wet or dry, all you had to do was lift, and it would instantly recover.

And I used a Beta Coupé as a daily driver about 12 years ago. So I was comparing it with cars like a Honda CRX, which I ran as a daily driver before the Beta. And I'm not suggesting this about you, but a lot of people try to drive FWD the same way they drive RWD, and an FWD won't handle nearly as well that way.

In the end, of course, we all have our own experiances, perceptions and preferences.
 

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Having owned two Coupes and a Zagato...and having sold all three...I can say the Beta is an ok car that does nothing special. All three did have the torque steer quirk you mention. The ride wasn't to0 bad. A/C was junk. Heater much better, but I never needed it. The steering racks are a weak point. Look for rust in all of the usual spaces, especially with the Zagato since it has alot more ways for water to get into the car.

The injection cars run much better and are more drivable. But, you have the issue of the injector computer. If ....er, when it goes bad, you'll be hunting for another questionable used one. Injectors are no big deal. The shift linkage isn't the most precise thing you'll ever use, but isn't too bad once you get used to it. Like all those older Italian cars, stay on top of all grounds and the fuse block. Keep them free of any corrosion. Otherwise wierd things start to happen. And I live in a dry state.

And, if the top center header bolt ever falls out, you'll be able to follow the trail of oil down the street to find said offending bolt.

I know where there's a dry rotted one sitting in a Phoenix junk yard!

My wife always said they looked like a Toyota...

Your no start when cold issue could be any one of many things. Air flow meter, relay, cold start injector, computer, temp sensor, ignition switch, fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator.... Dig up a Bosch FI manual and start the bonding proccess with it!

If you do buy it, you'll never pass yourself on the street!

Good luck!
Kurt
 

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If all three of your Betas exhibited torque steer, then they all had bad rod ends, of some other worn component. Of the three I had, only one ever had that issue, and a new track rod cured it.

The nylon shift linkage bushings used to be a real problem; in the '90s you couldn't find replacements for split ones, and you had to lash up the linkage or it would be very sloppy. But linkage kits have been available for a while now, and they're better than OEM.

The A/C is definitely crap (and even at its best, it was never designed for a place like Phoenix). The heater is beyond adequate. I used my '75 for a 110-mile R/T commute in upstate NY, including winter. And for driving comfort I'd take my coat off when I jumped
into the car in the dead of winter; took only about a half mile to get comfortable. The heater's just fine.
I never had any trouble with the fuel injection on my '81. But it's Bosch L-Jetronic, so parts and repair service aren't that tough to find. Major parts like the airflow sensor can be pricey, if that fails, but you'd have to drive a lot of miles before that wasn't a one-shot deal. If it's a problem at all.

You definitely need to look for rust (unlike any other contemporary Italian car...). Typical problem spots tend to be pretty obvious: sills, base of 'A' pillar, base of 'C' pillar, hood/trunk lid edges. But rust doesn't hide well in any of those locations; there's either obvious rust or bubbling, or there isn't a real problem.
 

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We are at odds on price right now. He wants $2,900 which really ain't much for any car these days, but it has plenty of little issues that annoy me. Like you have to turn the key about three times to get it to start, has a fart-can muffler (sounds like a teenager's civic), top is checked and needs to be sanded and repainted, bumpers are in Charlotte NC. It his however solid and runs well which says a lot. At this point I have moved on.
Alex all key start issue needs is relay installed so key only has to energize relay and relay then shoots direct 12v to starter solenoid,

We have had to do this mod to many a Beta, Fiat and even Milano. I think GTV6 about only model that era that had relay in system already.

As for bumpers nice to have for originale but fairly heavy.
 

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Alex all key start issue needs is relay installed so key only has to energize relay and relay then shoots direct 12v to starter solenoid,

We have had to do this mod to many a Beta, Fiat and even Milano. I think GTV6 about only model that era that had relay in system already.

As for bumpers nice to have for originale but fairly heavy.
Steve's right on both counts. The other thing that occasionally screws up some other electrical components is the stalk cluster on the steering column. They'll work fine for years, then some stalk function won't work or there's just intermittent electrical weirdness. Sometimes everything craps out; mostly it's just one thing. Easy to replace--speed connector.

And the bumper assemblies are incredibly heavy for their size. I ran them on all three of mine, but they look better and perform better without them.
 

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Nice car but I'd offer only 1500 dollars. 1700 tops.

I like it with the bumpers removed but not really practical for daily driving.
 

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The nylon shift linkage bushings used to be a real problem
that's funny you mentioned that. I was in the market for one of these many years ago, and looked at 3 or 4 cars. they all had issues (current or past) with the nylon shift bushings, and if I remember, the repair meant dropping the tranny. Now whenever I hear about these cars, the first thing I remember is the broken plastic shift bushings!

I painted an exceptionally straight 75 Beta for a client last year, which is a great year for any classic car in California, because its the last year that is exempt from smog. (really hard to get a Beta to pass current CA smog) He has the car set up with a euro spec engine so it should be a lot of fun. I had forgotten what a nice looking car the Beta Coupe was.
 
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