It’s told that great legends are born from great difficulties. These are the common stories of how, through adversities, one can overcome them and unexpectedly enjoy the journey. The first story is from Lancia that after being acquired by FIAT in 1969, ran the risk of losing its creative autonomy due to the fact that in previous years it had negative balances due to its high manufacturing cost. The Beta, already under the tutelage of FIAT, was the bet for a vehicle that was not only economically viable but also meant a change of stile in the philosophy of the brand. The second story is about Manuel Ángel, the owner of the Beta Coupé 2000 that we present in this article that was acquired almost by accident. In fact it was a kind of bet, the innumerable problems with his initial project, an “Opel Manta“, led his friend Alejandro Berdayes, to propose Manuel the sale of the German model, to which our protagonist replied that he would do only if he sold him the Lancia Beta belonging to his mother, according to Manuel: “I´ll never be able to thank him enough to agree to my proposal and even more so considering that he did not get any benefit from the sale.”
The Italian coupe was presented in Frankfurt in the early 70s and its production extended from 1972 to 1984 with continuous revisions and reissues. The first units were manufactured at the Lanbaden plant in Navarra by SEAT in an agreement with the Spanish government. They mounted DOHC transverse engines between 1.3 and 2.0 with Weber carburetors, front-wheel drive, four-wheel disc brakes, gearboxes developed in collaboration with Citroën and a very advanced chassis for the time that included independent McPherson suspension on both axles.
Over time, Lancia was updating its base model and already in the 80s highlights the introduction of injection in 2L engines and, taking advantage of the changes in production with the introduction of the steering wheel to the right, they launched model, called VX, with supercharger which reached 200N.m.
There were many rumors about the quality of the materials used in the car, there was talk that they were made with poor quality Russian metals from Lada in exchange for the construction of a factory of the Russian brand by FIAT. In the United Kingdom, car and brand suffered a major defamation campaign accusing them of their lack of resistance to corrosion, which meant the end of sales of the Italian brand in the British Isles.
The vehicle that occupies us in this report shows that with the proper care it assumes the passage of the years stoically.
Of the aesthetics, little can be said that is not seen in the photos, is simply spectacular is a car that, seen as an stock car, could go unnoticed by those who are not fans of the car, but with the interest and meticulousness with which Manu keeps it, make it inevitable that you have to look at it when you see it going by on the street. All this has been achieved thanks to the installation of some flaps, the front headlights with the covers of HF and Cibié, a decoration of the body in black and four-spoke Braid tires with throat that put the cherry on a Lancia commemorative aesthetic Beta Group 4 that the Italians designed to try to continue reaping the good results of Fulvia. He competed in the world championship in the 74 ‘and 75’ seasons laying the foundations for the construction of the cars that would see the next triumphs of the Turin brand; we refer to the Lancia Stratos, to the 037 and finally the unmistakable Delta S4 Group B.
In keeping with the exterior, we must emphasize its interior, any detail, however minimal it may be, it’s cared, the clocks in the center console, the mats in the red carpet with the Lancia insignia, the Recaro seats upholstered in white, its iconic three-spoke steering wheel, the Sparco metallic shift knob and the dashboard, which although for Manu is “a bit bland compared to what Italian brands are used to doing”, offers a lot of information, including water and oil temperature, as well as the level of battery and oil, in the latter case, as long as the car is cold and turned off. Details that get even improve the stock model.
On a technical level, this car is a “2000“, although in Spain the displacement was reduced to 1919’7cm3 to avoid the luxury tax of 35% that recorded cars exceeding 1920cm3 in this particular case the mechanics are prepared “half gas, the sensations prevail over the statistics”. The greatest strength of this car, taking into account what Manu has told us, is the chassis, which has been adapted to the way of driving of its owner “the car has to adapt to the animal” as he himself recognizes, ordering for it a personalized Bilstein suspension made to measure, regulating the height of the car with a difference of 2mm between one side and the other (following the recommendations of a former Lancia engineer) and adjusting the convergence and the fall of the wheels.
We are not worried about the future of this car, it´s future is insured, because, even if its current owner gets tired of it, which seems impossible, his son only 6 years old, seems to be totally in love with Lancia as Manu proudly recognizes ” He is even worse than me, with about two and a half years he had the wheels data written on a paper and I found him in the garage under one of the tires when trying to take them out and now he complains when I use some of the spare parts because he is left without them to take care of Beta when the time he can drive it arrives … “
Manuel Angel, the owner of this jewel, deserves special thanks from us for having let us enjoy driving it. Therefore, we would like to include our impressions. Putting yourself at the controls of another person’s car imposes but when you know that it exceeds thirty years and that is scrupulously cared this feeling is accentuated even more.
However, the nerves are gone after crossing the first 200 meters: the smoothness and precision with which the gears enter, how willing the engine is shown from the bottom of the tachometer and the ease with which the Italian absorbs the imperfections of the asphalt , they make you feel as if you’ve been driven it all your life. In addition, the small interior, the smell of gasoline mixed with the interior materials, the dashboard with its ten of indicators informing you of everything that is possible and the pure sound of an authentic combustion engine contribute to realize that you are before an authentic Italian sports car after which there is a wonderful history.