The big story

Lan­cias on the cheap

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

‘The Beta coupé is no Ful­via, but it’s ap­pre­cia­bly cheaper to buy’

It’s rather sad to think that one of Italy’s most sig­nif­i­cant car mak­ers is now re­duced to just one small hatch­back, but it wasn’t al­ways like that for Lan­cia. Al­ways sport­ing, but without the slightly raw edge of an Alfa Romeo, Lan­cias brought won­der­fully un­der­stated looks – and, un­til the late 1970s at least, won­der­ful en­gi­neer­ing – to a more main­stream au­di­ence.

That over-en­gi­neer­ing was the down­fall of the com­pany’s in­de­pen­dence. Fiat swal­lowed it whole in Novem­ber 1969, though to­day seems to have no idea what to do with this once jus­ti­fi­ably proud mar­que.

The net re­sult of this is that many Lan­cias make great buys at auc­tion and – rar­efied models such as the Flaminia Spi­der, Aure­lia and Stratos aside – can of­ten be bought for good MGB and Tri­umph Stag money. And buy­ers choos­ing not to fol­low the crowd do well with th­ese cars: those dat­ing from be­fore the mid-’70s boast a mix­ture of per­for­mance and en­gi­neer­ing.

Search the auc­tion lists and Lan­cias do ap­pear reg­u­larly, though in rel­a­tively small num­bers in monthly terms com­pared to other mar­ques. A quick look at sales this year shows that only post-war models have sold, and last month a soli­tary Lan­cia, a 1993 Delta In­te­grale Evo 2, was sold by Sil­ver­stone Auc­tions for £41,063.

Brightwells’ sold a 1989 In­te­grale 8v in rea­son­able or­der for £8690 in March, but Sil­ver­stone achieved top auc­tion In­te­grale price at Fe­bru­ary’s Race Retro sale, when a 1994 Evo II in 2+ con­di­tion made a huge £53,100. Any­one want­ing to put a Lan­cia in their garage on a lim­ited bud­get re­ally ought to con­sider a targa-top Beta Spi­der, while the Beta coupé of­fers low-key un­der­state­ment; it’s no Ful­via coupé, but ap­pre­cia­bly cheaper to buy. Not con­vinced? Look no fur­ther than the 1981 coupé sold at ACA’s Jan­uary sale for a rea­son­able £3465, and a 1979 Beta Spy­der 2000 was off at £2835 at King’s Lynn back in April. Not to be out­done, Barons’ April sale saw an­other Beta Spi­der 2000 off, this time for £4840.

Those with more of a purist air would prob­a­bly try to track down a Ful­via. ACA was at it again in Jan­uary, with two 1972 ex­am­ples. A Ful­via Ber­lina in Con­di­tion 2 sold for £5775, while its wilder cousin – in this case a 1.3S Ful­via Sport Za­gato – charmed buy­ers enough to make £17,040. It sounds a lot, but it was a rel­a­tively small price to pay for a sport­ing Ital­ian car car­ry­ing such a pres­ti­gious badge.

It is one of the world’s great­est car mak­ers, and one whose fu­ture is very much in the Fiat bal­ance at the moment: it’s a de­press­ingly grim sit­u­a­tion for Lan­cia, but that shouldn’t stop to­day’s clas­sic en­thu­si­asts en­joy­ing the com­pany’s pre­vi­ous prod­ucts, many of which of­fer first-class all-round value.

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