No Alpha – 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato

When Lancia introduced their Beta line of cars, returning to the practice of naming their cars after the Greek alphabet, they decided not to name it the Alpha because of possible confusion with Alfa Romeo. Further, in North America, the car known as the Lancia Beta Spyder was known here as the Lancia Beta Zagato (even more confusing since it was designed by Pininfarina and built by Zagato, suggesting some serious pride-swallowing in the name of a paycheck). Taking that one step further, if the car had been designated the Alpha, submodel Spyder, we could have had a Lancia Alpha Spyder. Wait, what? Now you’re thoroughly confused, let’s take a look at this 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato for sale for $3495 in Bend, OR.

1982 Lancia Beta Zagato right front

Funny enough, Alpha wouldn’t have been a good choice for another reason – in the financial world, alpha is a term used to measure risk. Beta was not really a better choice, since it’s also a risk ratio, or in the tech world, an early version of software that’s not quite ready for production. And while neither of those terms were as well-known in the early 1970s, they were unintentionally appropriate for this car. By 1981, however, many of the bugs had been worked out and the car sported a fuel-injected 2-liter engine giving 108hp, a whopping 25hp up on the 1800 with which it debuted in North America. Fortunately, today’s Beta is equipped with the fuel-injected 2-liter, and with a targa top it should be pretty fun on warm back roads.

1982 Lancia Beta Zagato interior

Paint looks decent, but the seller appears to have had a hard time capturing the entire car, raising the question of its mechanical status. It’s said to have thousands invested, but that’s quite easy to do on any car on which few people have significant experience, and which was somewhat underdeveloped. That said, the engine and fuel injection are both adaptations of systems on plenty of other cars, so a mechanic experienced with Fiats or other L-jet cars should be able to help. As you can see, the interior looks pretty decent, though the upholstery is a little loose. The dash looks decent, and aside from the clutter in the center console there’s nothing too scary in here.

1982 Lancia Beta Zagato right rear

There are a few odd things about this car, the first being the black paint on the lower quarter of the car, and the non-factory rocker trim, so watch out for rust. It’s also said to be a 1982 model, but wears a pre-1982 style grill – perhaps it took until 1982 to sell and therefore was registered in that year. From this angle, the top and rear window look in good shape, but the front looks a little nose-high. The car is said to have new tires, so that should help bring out the excellent comfort/handling mix for which journalists praised the Beta at its debut. With fuel injection and generally decent condition, this car is definitely worth a look, but be prepared to walk away if it doesn’t check out.

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