1982 Lancia Beta Zagato: Cheap Flair

1982 Lancia Beta Zagato

I realize that my threshold for dealing with maintenance annoyances that occur when daily-driving an older car is higher than others. But one of the best parts about the experience is when said vehicle doesn’t cost me anything in a given month, a small victory over having a car payment for some Japanese runabout that loses value every day. It’s this train of thought that makes cars like this 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato here on craigslist for $4,900 so appealing: sure, it’s likely to have a few quirks and unexpected repairs, but I’d drive this any day of the week over a $15K Corolla.

1982 Lancia Beta Zagato Interior

Right out of the gate, this example has some of the features you want if you’re shopping for a Zagato: for the 1981-1982 model years, the 2L engine utilized Bosch fuel injection to boost horsepower to 120 – a significant leap from the 87 b.h.p. of years prior when the cars were fitted with a Weber carburetor. Fully independent suspension helped put that power to the ground, and despite being front-wheel drive, most automotive testers found little to complain about in the handling department. While this car shows well in the listing, I’d like to see a few more details about the maintenance performed while in the seller’s care.

1982 Lancia Beta Zagato Dash

Build quality has never been a strong suit of Lancias born in the era of Fiat ownership, so no matter how good this car looks, a thorough inspection is advisable. Assuming all checks out, it’s time to hop in and decide which roof configuration you want to use that day: coupe style, targa top, rear ventilation-only, or open air – with both the targa roof removed and the rear convertible roof folded down. Through the years, a variety of cars have featured this quasi-coupe/convertible design, most notably (in my opinion) the Baur-bodied BMWs. Other than looking a touch awkward, I’m not sure why it never took hold as it seems to combine the best of all worlds.

Lancia Beta Zagato

With summer around the corner, the seller’s timing of this sale is impeccable. The Lancia Beta has enough of a following that replacement parts could be sourced, but it may not be the easiest classic vehicle to shop for. Although the rear seats don’t offer a ton of room, you could conceivably bring a small friend or two along for the ride – but you may need to ask first if they want the wind blowing the hairs on the back of their heads! So tell us, does this Lancia born from Fiat ownership strike you as the perfect summertime purchase? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. rjc

    I agree Jeff quirky fun looking car. I really like the targa top and rear window set up.
    and I thought the cl ad was very well written.

  2. Alan (Michigan)

    Looks good to me!

    Fun, and you won’t see another one during your daily drive to work. The seller should have included a photo with the backlight/top in the UP position…. Of course a close look would be in order. Too far for me, but great for someone close-by.

  3. jim s

    it sure looks nice and would be fun to drive but it is only $50 less then the 87 fiero gt that i know where to get parts for. i think maybe the fiero would be easier to work on also. you take this car and i will take the fiero with the V6 sound that i love. i am going to youtube to hear one now.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Agreed… But I’d want the ’88 front suspension on the Fiero. And a 3800 SSEi motor too!
      (handling and power greedy) The Lancia is a “Leave it alone and drive it” car….

  4. Larry

    I may be one of the few who actually prefer the coupe or HPE (shooting brake) configurations, but the Zagato continues to grow on me. This one certainly looks the part, but as mentioned, you’d be advised to have a long talk with the seller and do a thorough in-person inspection before considering a purchase.

  5. Jeff Lavery

    Thanks for all the comments, guys. This car strikes me as being fairly honest and loved, so hopefully someone picks up a great summer project!

  6. Jason

    Looks a million times nicer than the one Jeremy had in the Top Gear Botswana special!

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