Archive for June, 2009

Boise Betas – HPE, Coupe, and Zagatos

June 30, 2009

Since I’m feeling guilty (or something) for finally giving in on my Beta sedan and taking it up to a professional in Berkeley, I figured I’d do a post on Betas. Call it an act of contrition, if you like. Speaking from my experiences working on these cars, I would move on any of these cars with a certain level of trepidation, but I have to say they’re still very attractive in terms of the performance and technology you get in these late-70s cars. Maybe it’s just setting the correct expectations – with these cars at such low prices, expect to do a certain amount of mechanical work before having a reliable, smooth-running driver.

Who knew there were so many Betas in Boise? With four on the market at the same time, Boise must be a veritable hotbed of Lancia enthusiasts. With the varied assortment, you have to think that somewhere in the Boise area, there’s a Berlina hiding in someone’s garage. This first pair is pretty interesting – an HPE and a Coupe, both from 1979. Unfortunately, the HPE has an automatic transmission and is missing a carb, but from my perspective that’s a good reason to source a fuel-injected 2000 engine with a 5-speed and drop that in, instead of bothering with the strangling emissions equipment. The good news is, the coupe is a runner, so you can keep the flame alive with that while finding and installing that 2000. The HPE is also listed separately at $200, but you can get the whole package here at $750 in Meridian, ID.

1979 Lancia Beta HPE & Coupe


It’ll Buff Out: 1979 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan

June 29, 2009

Since buying my spider, my fascination with Alfa Romeo sedans has grown. Aside from usually being the lowest-cost entry into Alfas (well, until recently with Berlinas and Giulia sedans), they’re also appealing in that they’re more usable on a daily basis for longer-distance, high speed travel and are more comfortable to take your friends along in your weirdo car. While some people could consider earlier Alfa sedans to be an acquired taste, the 1978 and 1979 sport sedans are pretty easy on the eye in a late-70s euro way. The subject of today’s post is this 1979 Alfa Romeo Sport Sedan in Albuquerque, NM with bidding started at $200 and no reserve.

On some level, I would argue this should be the most popularly accessible of Alfa Romeo’s sedans (if you ignore the need for smog testing). It’s got a tidy design, a very well-balanced transaxle chassis, the trusty 1962cc four cylinder, and a 5-speed transmission. What’s more is, there’s a lot on this car that’s pretty easy to service, contrary to the myths about these (although I must admit from my own experience, there are some things that can be a pain the first time around). Here’s a front shot of the car – looks pretty clean for a car that’s been out of action for a few years:

1979 Alfa sedan front


1972 and 1979 Fiat 128s

June 26, 2009

Update 06/29/09: It’s baaack! The 1979 128 4-door is up on craigslist for $650 this time. I think you could pick this up in the low hundreds, put a few hundred into it and have a fun ride. There’s also a 1973 up in Susanville, CA for $1200, so for under $2000 you could have your own “fleet” of 128s.

Well, we’re back with one of my favorite car nationalities again – Italian! The thing I love about Italian cars is that even the dinkiest, most humble of models has a sporty feeling to it… and this isn’t just hyperbole, I’ve driven some pretty cheap Italian cars. Fiat 128s are a prime example of this. The great thing is, thanks to the much longer production lives of their brother and cousin, the X1/9 and Yugo, it should be easy enough to get parts and upgrade the powertrain if you so desire, and for not much scratch. What’s more is, this car featured a significant jump in technology: unequal-length driveshafts so the engine and transmission could be placed side-by-side. As usual, the earlier cars are preferable for their chrome-bumper aesthetics and smog-exempt status, but much like my beta, they’re so unusual that if you’re interested and you happen to find one, you should snatch it up before it, um, disappears into a pile of iron oxide. That’s the burden of being an inexpensive Italian car from that decade.

In a stunning turn of events, there are actually 2 (!!) listed, not including the pricey one over near Boston. What’s more is, we have a choice of 2 of the 3 bodystyles sold: 2-door or 4-door. Our first subject is a 1972 2-door in Denver, CO for $2500.

1972 Fiat 128