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LANCIA BETA

jensen99jensen99 Posts: 5
edited March 5 in FIAT
JUST WANTED TO KNOW IF ANYONE ELSE HERE EVER HAD THE EXTREME MISFORTUNE TO OWN A LATE 70'S LANCIA BETA COUPE OR OTHER BODY STYLE. I HAD ONE IN 1983 FOR 2 MONTHS UNTIL IT BLEW ITS ENGINE.WHAT A GREAT CAR.

Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    A rather sad note on an otherwise illustrious car company's history. You shouldn't judge Lancia by that turkey.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Right. I hear it was prone to crashing because it was the beta version.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    hahaha...yeah, it was pretty "beta"...much more beta than an alfa.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,695
    Who would work on anything...except Lancias.

    His shop took on the misfits that most shops either hated or had no idea how to fix.

    Citroens, Fiats, Peugots, Rovers, you name it, he worked on them and did a great job at fair prices.

    But he HATED Lancias and had many unkind and profane ways to describe them.

    He called them "Lawnchairs" because they spent (in his opinion)most of the time sitting around not running.

    Shifty...it sounds like your opinion differs?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Well, Lancias are actually very high quality automobiles and have a very rich tradition, so I'm hesitant to club the company to death for a few inferior models that came over here to the US. Some of their rallye cars were world champions and beat the pants off the world's best.

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  • jcg265jcg265 Posts: 2
    I had a new 79 beta coupe (beige w/beige woolen interior). What a dog. I had it for a total of
    14 months...it took me 6 months to unload it before I finally gave up and traded it in on a
    new 82 celica. Did you notice the gap in years...
    I bought the lancia as a left over left over, no
    one dumb enough to buy it new except for me. I
    could never keep it running reliably for any length of time. In the winter, I had to go to
    bars at night just to keep the battery charged.
    Back then, I thought anything Italian was primo.
    My dealer went out of business 6 months after I
    bought the car but that made little difference as they did not want to or know how to fix these
    little bastards. 3 months after I got rid of my
    beta [non-permissible content removed], Lancia stopped subjecting Americans to dealing with these horrible imports. I believe the list price of my car was 11,250 and
    I paid about 8650 as a left over. The value of
    this car 17 months later after Lancia stopped
    imports sunk it to about 3500, if any one was
    interested.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Sad story, that. Well, I hope at least you met somebody at the bar.

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  • Back in the late 70's I worked as an apprentice mechanic at a Fiat/Lancia dealer. The Beta's and the Fiat X19's were a pain in the butt to work on. I remember doing a bunch of recall work on the Fiat 131's replacing brake master cylinders and recovering the seats. Doing the same work over and over you got it down so you could do it fast. I think book was around 4 hours on the master cylinder and I could do it in just over 30 minutes with some help to bleed them.

    One quirky thing I remember about those engines was to do a valve adjustment, you turned each cylinder to TDC and measured the clearance. To adjust you had to replace shims with ones of different thickness measurements. For example if the clearence on the intake valve of #1 cylinder was .005 too much and the current shim was .035 thickness, you changed it for one that was .04 thickness. So basically to do a valve adjustment you need to have a whole selection of different thickness shims. Wierd.

    I did my first major engine surgery there on a Fiat 128 that spun a rod bearing. It was the first time I'd ever completely disassembled and reassembled an engine. It was quite a good feeling when it started up and ran good :-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Shimming valves for clearance is quite common on many European cars, especially Italian cars. But Jaguars also used this system.

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  • I guess you can tell I have not worked on many european cars, mostly american cars but the english cars I had worked on were not ohc so I hadn't run into it before.
  • Jags use shims onthe AJ6 engines as late as 1994!

    Bill
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    It's actually a good system. You don't have to do it very often and you get a very precise clearance.

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  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    Why are the Fiats, Lancias, and Alfa Romeos so maligned and underappreciated in this country? Is it because they're too fragile and junky to keep running properly? I have been in a couple of Alfa Spiders from the '90s, and they certainly do not come close to the fit and finish of my '93 Volvo 850. (No offense to the Italian car owners out there)
  • Italy has had 60+ governments since 1945. How do you expect them to design a decent car?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Alfas never had a good service or parts network for one thing. Also, their quality control wasn't the best in the 80s and 90s, that's quite true.

    Nonetheless, this is an old company with a fantastic racing heritage and a reputation for many technological breakthroughs.

    Look at it this way. In about 1956, Alfa brought over a lovely two seat, 4 cylinder, overhead cam, five speed roadster to the USA. This is the very configuration that everyone is buying today. But Alfa figured all that out 45 years ago, when most other cars had flatheads and three speed column shifters mated to big heavy ladder frames supported massive steel bodies.

    In 1980, they put variable valve timing on their cars, which was quite a few years before Honda did it.

    In terms of styling, they are among the most attractive cars around I think (well, they have had a few turkeys, but not many).

    Probably the best thing about Alfas is that every Alfa made is absolutely fun to drive. They may not have always made the best car or the prettiest, but they never made a dull car.

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  • I had a white 1978 1300 cc Lancia Beta Coupe in Italy when I was stationed there. It was the most exicitng car I ever owned. Those 1300 cc felt more powerful than the 2500 ccV-6 on the car I have today. But it had its weak points: 1) Within a few days of ownership, I went over a rather large pothole on the Via Critoforo Colombo, a Rome dual carriageway. The glass of one of the four head-lights fell out. It was easily and cheaply replaced with a new Hella sealed beam unit the next day at an "elletroauto" shop. 2) The fuel lines near the carburettor would seem to leak and there would be a strong smell of the "benzina" in the the car occassionally. Trips to an independant mechanic in Rome could not solve the problem. 3) Then on a trip to Sardinia in 1985, I put the foot down on the accellerator (on a new and deserted "autostrada" - toll freeway) just to see how much the car would do. The needle soon climbed to 170 kph and was still going up when I hear a loud band. I came off the autostrada and found that the car was jerking wildly at low speed and would not idle at traffic lights. I nursed the car back to port of Olbia and went straight to a Fiat-Lancia dealer. The dealership mechanic took the car in immediately took off the large air-cleaner and blew compressed air down the throat of the carburettor. This fixed the problem (which never re-occured, it also took care of the problem of leaking fuel from the feeder lines to the carburettor). He then turned his attention to the loud noise I had heard on the autostrada. He told me, not without some mirth, that I had lost half my rear exhaust system including the muffler! The next day I drove back to Rome with a loud and growling exhaust note like a race car. I loved it! The following day a non-Lancia exhaust was fitted. I had no more problems with that car till I had to regertably sell it to a cruiseship pursor as I was being posted elsewhere. A few days later I noticed that he had left the car on the road (in Rome most cars are left parked on the road) and had taken off on one of his cruises! I would buy a Lancia again, If I was in Italy (where "specialista mecannicos" are to be found at every corner. These mechanics think nothing of stripping an engine down and doing a valve jon after only 30 miles on your new Fiat or Lancia! Here in the U.S. lancias and FIATs have a "Fix It All the Time" reputation. I too know of a mechanic in Sacramento you will do Fiats, Alfas, and most other European imports, BUT he swears he never want to touch a Lancia! The reason: too many disgruntled customers and the damage of his reputation!

    By the way: Vincenzo Lancia was the first to design a workable V-6 engine that was fitted to a Lancia sports car, the Aurelia in 1959. Up to that time, nobody could make a successful V-6 engine for a commercial car that it not vibrate terribly. Today we take the V-6 engine for granted in our Hondas, Toyotas, and waht have you. But remember that it was Lancia who came out first with a V-6 in a production car. There were other first too. If anyone want to know more about Lancias contact me.

    Eddy
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    The only thing I remember about Lancias from my youth was that they rusted and rusted.
  • They rusted because they were primarily built for the Mediterranean climate. Wherever they applied salt to the roads during winter they rusted badly. In 1977 there appeared an article in a newspaper in England in which it was alleged that the engine mounts on Lancia Betas rusted so badly that the engine actualled moved 2-3 inched while the car was in motion. That sealed Lancia's fate in UK for more than 2 decades. Thay have never caught on in England ever again, even though Lancias made sure that their cars were thoroughly rust proofed in the early 1980s.

    Eddy
  • jensen99jensen99 Posts: 5
    SORRY FOR THE LONG TIME LAPSE BUT I JUST READ YOUR POST FROM OCT, 2001. I WONDER IF MY LANCIA WAS YOURS. I HAD A 1979 BETA COUPE AUTOMATIC WITH BEIGE PAINT AND BEIGE WOOL. I DONT HAVE ANY RECORD OF THE VIN # UNFORTUNTELY.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,626
    In 1990 I was looking for a sports car or convertible and saw an ad for an '85 Alfa (2000?)
    Soyder. I test drove it, what a disappointment. I thought it would make my old '71 Fiat 124 spider look slow but it sucked, the engine had zero pepiness to and didn't rev past 4800 or so. Did I get a bad car or a poor year. It really set my opinion of
    Alfa back, after all those years of thinking of my Fiat as "the poor man's Alfa".

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    No, they aren't very fast cars in the 1980s. The early 1750s with Weber carbs could really scream compared to the 2000s with Bosch injection and catalytics. They are pleasant cars, the 80s Alfa Spyders, and quite reliable, but not terribly exciting to drive.

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This discussion has been closed.