LANCIA BETA MONTECARLO
If you’re in the market for this increasingly sought-after and scarce Italian beauty, look overseas to boost your chances of bagging a bargain
Isold a decent Montecarlo 18 months ago for £6000, but now it’s worth double that,’ says a regretful Malcolm Steer, proprietor of MonteZone (www.montezone.co.uk).
UK values have been ballooning and will probably rise further still, considering there aren’t many mid-engined Italian wedges priced between the Montecarlo and much more exotic offerings.
Values have risen outside the UK too, but Malcolm reckons they’re still less expensive to buy in Italy. He cites the example of an early Series 1 that’s for sale over there for € 14,000 (£12,000). Malcolm suggests that car would be more like £14,000 if it were on sale in the UK.
Italy offers the biggest number of Montes currently available, and it’s a good place to look if you’re after the purest manifestations of the design. ‘The Series 1s are much more easily found in Italy because they last better there. Also in Italy you can find “solid buttress cars” – it’s how Pininfarina designed the car originally, but they didn’t get approval for this over here. In the UK we had glazed rear buttresses to improve rearward visibility,’ he says.
‘ We had a reasonable number of Series 2 cars imported to the UK, and lots of the middle-period 1977-78 cars, but many suffered from rust,’ he continues. ‘Even so, they’re all so rare now that people will jump on any example.’
The southern hemisphere is another potential source. ‘I know of about four that have been imported, and three of these have come from South Africa,’ says Malcolm.
‘The ones I’ve seen have been mostly Series 2s with low mileage – they seem to be decent-quality cars, even if they’ve had a bit of work carried out on them.’
That said, we conducted some online research and could find only one currently for sale in South Africa, so you’ll need to speak to someone local who can source a vehicle for you.
Although Lancia made a derivative for the US, called the Scorpion, there aren’t many reasons you’d choose it over a Montecarlo. Scorpions have a strangled 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine instead of the original’s 2.0-litre, awkward bumpers to meet US safety regulations and a taller ride height. Amusingly, terrible reviews were the inevitable result.
It makes more sense to hold out for a decent example from the southern hemisphere… or find a cracker in Italy, load the nose with a few bottles of Barolo, and head for home.