Lancia launched the Montecarlo as part of the Beta range. This included a sedan, a coupe and a spider model, the HPE Estate. The Montecarlo followed the Stratos in design principles although it was penned by Pininfarina. Lancia brochures were keen to associate the Montecarlo with the success of the Aurelia B20 rather than the then current crop of Beta.


Lancia books available at:



Lancia - A short history:


Vincenzo Lancia was born in 1881 in and on 29th November 1906, fored Lancia & C. Fabbrica Automobili together with friend and colleague Claudio Fogolin. Lancia and Fogilin had been test drivers at Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (F.I.A.T). Lancia & C. were first established at the old Itala factory in the Via Ormeo in Turin.


The first Lancia prototype was completed in September 1907, debuting at the Turin Show early the following year. Lancia adopted the Greek alphabet as names for his models in 1919 although he adopted these retrospectively with the Alpha. After the Great War, Lancia revolutionized the automobile with a patent (set out in 1919) to build a car with no separate chassis. The Lambda prototype hit the streets in 1921, the first car with unitary construction!


Vincenzo Lancia died in February 1937, shortly before the Aprilia went into production. It was only in 1970 that Lancia resumed the use of the Greek alphabet in the naming of its cars but with Alfa Romeo already around, the first of the new series was the Beta, powered by a modified version of the Lampredi twin cam engine. Fiat had already stepped in to buy out cement magnate Carlo Pesenti's stake in October 1968 (Ford had shown interest as well). The Beta range featured a number of very revolutionary ideas - form rear suspension design to mechanically-driven superchargers (for the Volumex). By the time the Motecarlo and Gamma had arrived,


Fiat had a pretty strong influence on design as well as use of component and overall platform. The Delta shared the Ritmo and Strada floorpans, but was still voted Car of the Year in 1980. The Thema followed the same game plan - to either develop jointly with other car manufacturers or use the Fiat floorpan. In the case of the Thema, it was a joint program with Saab, Fiat and Alfa.


Lancia have yet again returned to using Greek in naming the cars - first with the Kappa, Zeta and  Ypsilon in the 1990s, and then with the Musa, Thesis, Libra, Libra SW and the Phedra and a new Fulvia.


Lancia turns 100 in 2006, nothing like it was when the Montecarlo was first released in the 1970s, and perhaps a bit more like what it was as an independent manufacturer.


Transverse twin OHC engine, 4 cylinders in line with 84x90mm bore and stroke giving a capacity of 1995cc and 120bhp DIN at 6000rpm. You'll notice that Lancia first used the 1995cc engine on the Montecarlo - a development of the front-drive Lancia Beta stroked to 90mm while retaining the 84mm bore of the 1756cc Beta engine. Max torque was 164.4 Nm at 3500rpm. Carburetion was by downdraft 34DATR progressive-choke Webers. The DATR on this car will eventually be replaced by a pair of 40 DCNFs on specially adapted inlet manifolds while the distributor and coils will come from a electronic ignition Series 2 kit.


The picture above was taken soon after the engine was removed from the car.


A good block deburring job will greatly reduce the chances of cuts and nicks when rebuilding the engine. Deburring should also help eliminate stress risers and defray potential cracking. That's been done and the block painted.





Technical Data

Weber 34 DATR 1st Choke 2nd Choke
Venturi 25 27
Main jets 120 130
Idle jets 50 70
Air Correction 170 200


Timing Intake Exhaust
Opens 15 before TDC 57 before BDC
Closes 55 after BDC 13 after TDC
Std Valves 0.45mm 0.60mm


Fuel Tank 59 litres
Cooling 14 litres
Gearbox/Diff 2.45 litres
Brakes 0.56 litres
Steering gear 0.14 litres



The Monte Hospital

International Auto Parts


C. Obert & Co.

Pierce Manifolds



Motor - Road Test for Series 2 May 1981

Phil Ward: Fiat and Lancia Twin-Cams 

Brian Long: Lancia Beta - Collector's Guide

Brian Long: Lancia Sporting Coupes

Auto Italia Magazine

Motorbooks Italiano

Classic & Sportscar


Thoroughbred & Classic Cars


Auto International Singapore

Your Classic

Auto & Design


Link to library


Lancia adverts and Press clips


From Lancia: Lancia in the 70s and 80s


The NEW Fulvia


Montecarlo production numbers - Series 1

Model Type Drive Quantity
Series 1 Spider Left 1423
Series 1 Spider Right 334
Series 1 Coupe Left 1623
Series 1 Coupe Right 455
Scorpion Spider Left 1801


Montecarlo production numbers - Series 2

Model Type Drive Quantity
Series 2 Spider Left 564
Series 2 Spider Right 253
Series 2 Coupe Left 951

Series 2





1978 Lancia Beta Montecarlo Spyder Series 1

One of 334 made


Article:  100  Anni Di Stile Lancia -  100  years of Lancia style


Last Update: Friday, November 06, 2009


Oh carve this brief quotation

Above me when I'm dead:

'If you would gain salvation

'Get an aluminum head.'


Back in the early 1990s I restored Series 2 Lancia Beta Montecarlo Spyder while I was living in Singapore. It took longer to source specific things than it did to anything else. Sadly, all was wasted when the car was broadsided by an errant driver taking a wrong turn early one morning in 1994. That one was hardly a candidate for a resurrection but the current Series 1 Spyder certainly was! And if you value your car and your sanity, and you live in Hong Kong, there is one WORKSHOP YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER USE !!


Current state of the Lancia - May '06. Click here for on the road pictures


My Series 2 back in 1993 in Singapore

Click here for more on the Series 2


I owned one other Lancia after that - a Thema 2.0 ie Turbo 8V that had so much torque steer that I've always avoided front wheel drive turbos since (NB: The Thema cylinder head is not interchangeable with that of the Montecarlo). The Montecarlo has always my favorite and an opportunity emerged for me to close the circle fully - another Spyder and another project car I can't wait to complete and rectify all my earlier mistakes. Here then are some of the shots of the new Beta project with a bit of background on Lancia and the Montecarlo - a.k.a. prototype X1/20 (you'll find this prototype reference stamped on the circuit board of the instrument binnacle).


In the first series, Lancia build 3854 examples (of which only 334 were Spyders), production ending in May 1978 after a run of 3 years. The Series 2 appeared in March 1980 with revisions to brakes (being the most significant), wheel size, cosmetics, weight (the Series 2 was 70kg lighter) as well as the removal of the full buttress panels in the rear in favor of glazed ones. 


This makes our project car one of the very last of the Series 1 Spyders (it has the rear Lancia β insignia before Lancia tried to distance itself from the Beta model). The car carries chassis 3869, type (or tipo in Italian) 137 AS/T, signifying it was a Spyder. The car was first registered in Hong Kong in 1978 and came with optional red (rosso) cloth-covered seats. Lancia offered several combinations for body and upholstery colors and this car had the original white paint scheme (#152 Bianco) with red interior, the only such combination offered.


Autocar 1978 listed the price of the Lancia Montecarlo at £5,927 total including VAT for the UK market. The Montecarlo was therefore the highest priced Lancia offered in the common market at the time. In comparison, an Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 was offered at £5,799 all in (the GTV Strada was listed at £7,199). The Fiat X1/9 1290cc was listed at £3,627 all in. The closest you could get to a similar sports car would have been the Porsche 924 at £7,350 all in - and that was for the basic model.  Unless, that is, you were willing to go with TVR and stake you life on a 3000M for £5,716 or a TVR Taimar non-turbo at £6,223. By the end of 1981, the Montecarlo Series 2 Spyder was listed at £8,600 with the Coupe at £8,345 all in. The Fiat X1/9 1500cc was priced at £5,590 and the flagship Lancia Gamma 2-door 2.5-litre at £10,249, compared to Alfa's flagship GTV 6 2.5 Coupe at £9,850. Alfa's only comparable to the Montecarlo would have been the Alfetta  GTV 2.0 Coupe, priced at £7,995.


MOTOR's issue of 30th May 1981 road tested the Series 2 and compared the car to the Alfetta GTV, Nissan's 280ZX, Mazda's RX7, the Porsche 924 and Triumph's TR7. In terms of price, the Lancia rated fairly well, the cheapest being the TR7 (also the least powerful) at £6,880, while the most expensive was the 924 at £9,103. MOTOR noted that the Montecarlo had no other natural rivals; the X1/9 was priced much cheaper, others such as the TVR Tasmin (£13,824), AC 3000 ME (£13,238) and Lotus Esprit (£13,461) priced much higher.


A comprehensive report was undertaken by Martin Buckley in Classic and Sportscar of May 1990, and featured a Series 2 Spyder. Buckley even pointed out that the road test car that MOTOR ran in 1978 crashed through the window of Sutton Conservative Club and that its origins were in question from the onset at the launch of the car at the Geneva Motor Show. A Fiat version, badged X1/20, was on display at the Pininfarina stand as well.


Fast forward to 1995 and a Budget exotica group road test by Brian Palmer in Thoroughbred & Classic Cars of August 1995 that pitched the Montecarlo Series 2 against the 1983 AC 3000ME, the 1982 De Lorean, the 1974 Lotus Europa Special and the 1972 VW-Porsche 914. To paraphrase Mr. Palmer...."The Monte Carlo (sic) was meant to be a Fiat until the marketing department decreed it should be an ongoing part of Lancia's distinguished competition-bred history - besides, they could charge more lira for a Lancia. Aficionados knew a con when they saw one - the new car even sported Fiat chassis numbers." This was of course true - the Fiat parts bin was huge and the practice was not uncommon. The Montecarlo began life as the X1/8 FIAT prototype 'zero' in July 1970. By 1972 it was known as the X1/20 and by 1975, the basic shape had been determined. As Brian Long put it in Auto Italia of Sept/Oct 1997, the Montecarlo was a sportscar with an identity crisis. Still, bastard that it may have been, with a variety of Fiat, Abarth and Lancia titles, it was still a Pininfarina design that won the Style Auto Award for best production design of 1975!


This car was found in a somewhat derelict state in Hong Kong but complete. A deal was struck while we were in New Zealand during the Southern Festival of Speed in February in 2005 and work began on the car in June. 


On the road again....After over a year and a half, the Montecarlo looks like it could be a regular trouble-free road car again. The rebuild could have been done better, but we live and we learn.


What's been done so far: The body has been taken to bare metal and sprayed Guards Red by a fly-by-night operation in Sheung Shui that you should never ever use. All the suspension components, the interior, drive train etc have been removed for blasting and refreshing. The engine will eventually be fed by twin 40 DCNF Webers in place of the progressive choke 34 DATR (once the car has been fully set up), the brake servo removed and brakes upgraded with a kit from The Monte Hospital. The Interior has been taken apart and reupholstered with black top grain hide (from two cows). Seat covers will remain in the original red cloth from the factory.


The plastic quality that Lancia used (as with all Italian cars from the period) needed a significant amount of Araldite and Super Glue but thankfully these items and the aluminum bracing and strengthening are hidden from view. Plastics on display (cig ash tray surround and clock surrounds were customized to a mirror finish in black. The hood material has been replaced with OEM material (which took a full day of labor to replace) and a Zagato Bubble-top has been added with a custom headlining. You'll notice the red stripe on the bubble top and eventually I'll get down to adding a pair of glass or perspex screens as a sun-roof for the top.


How about this - A Series 1 at Brands Hatch


The 13in “bow-tie” wheels as seen on the Series 1 cars were designed by Pininfarina. PCD is similar to that of the Fiats which allowed owners to use the 7Jx15in Fiat 131 Abarth rims to their cars.



Designs showcased in 1978 from Bertone and Pininfarina. Bertone showed the Ferrari Rainbow, Volvo 262C, Lamborghini Bravo, Lamborghini Marzal Jaguar XJS Ascot and Bertone Trapeze while Pininfarina came up with the Alfa Romeo Eagle, Lancia Gamma and Montecarlo, the Ferrari 308 GTB, Ferrari CR25 and the Peugeot 104 Peugette. Ital Design had a Maserati Medici saloon, the Maserati Bora and the Maserati GT

@Copyright C2P Digital Films 2003-2005

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