Italian Insanity: 1979 Lancia Beta HPE Shooting Brake Project – Sold?

by | Nov 2021 | Classifinds, Wagon Wednesday

December 14, 2021 Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

An example of the very automobile Jeremy Clarkson once labeled as “The worst car ever made”, a 1979 Lancia Beta HPE two-door “shooting brake”,  passed through our search results in November 2021 on Craigslist in Albany, NY. If you’re not familiar with the car, this was the sporty two-door wagon version of the Zagato Targa you might recognize as Lancia attempted its on-again, off-again, half-hearted attempt to reenter the U.S. market in the late 1970s.

A non-running, but complete project car currently offered for $3,300, comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the seller has their Lancia priced between this guide’s #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) estimate of $2,500 and its #3 “Good” appraisal of $5,500.  We note that Bring a Trailer has only offered these two Lancia Beta HPEs in No Reserve auctions for an average sales price of $7,200.

The first car introduced following its acquisition by Fiat, Lancia produced the Beta as an entry-level luxury car from 1972 to 1984.  Lancia offered the Beta in several body styles, namely a four-door fastback called the Berlina, a two-door coupé (Beta Coupé), a two-door targa (Beta Spider), and the three-door estate (Beta HPE) featured here.

This car marked a brief return of Lancia to the United States market beginning in 1975. Federalization was not quite harmonious, though, which combined with a lack of dealers to persuade US buyers. All body styles except the Trevi were on offer at one time or another, although some were sold under different names: the Spider was sold as the Lancia Zagato (from 1979) and the Montecarlo as the Lancia Scorpion. Federalized cars were originally sold with a 1756 cc twin-cam engine producing 86 brake horsepower. This later dropped to 83 horsepower as emissions rules were tightened. For the 1979 model year, a two-liter engine was installed, with power up somewhat, to 87 horsepower. More importantly, torque was up by 17 percent.  Quality problems meant that US inspectors went to visit the plant to see what could be improved, but Lancia took a hiatus and did not bring any 1980 models.

Here’s the actual clip posted on YouTube of Jeremy Clarkson famously labeling the Lancia Beta as the worst car ever made:

Simply put, this 1979 Lancia Beta HPE project car is not for the faint of heart or light of wallet.  Restoration of this car will almost certainly put your bank account in the red as even the best Concours examples in the world can barely fetch $20K for. Dare we say an LS swap might make a better prospect for buying this project car?

Here’s the seller’s description:

“This posting is for a ’79 Lancia HPE 2 liter with automatic transmission, A/C, radio, sunroof. The mileage is 55,479 the car is very solid with a clean interior. The seats were re-stitched with nylon thread, the leather is very soft supple, and NOT shrunk. The car has been stored inside in a dry environment and has not started for 26 years. The engine turns freely. We recently rolled it outside to take the photos.”

Pass or buy: Should this 1979 Lancia Beta HPE be saved?  Comment below and let us know!

  1. Italian Insanity: 1979 Lancia Beta HPE Shooting Brake Project – Sold?

    I had an 81′ Zagato. Awful car. This is 10x worse with the autotragic transmission and all the rust. Looks like it borrowed rust from another Lancia. Run like hell!!!!! 🙂

    • Italian Insanity: 1979 Lancia Beta HPE Shooting Brake Project – Sold?

      Heh, rust and 0-60 in what, a couple of days?


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