I Am The Alfa, The Beta & The O-Mega Martin

The Lancia Beta Montecarlo is one of those lesser-known sportscars that sets the nerves of any aficionado of Italian machinery tingling. A rare high point ahead of a massive low for the country’s automotive reputation, it sports a unique shape, riffing on the inevitable wedge that was so popular in the ’70s. The lines are unmistakeable, with the bluff, forward-raked trapezoid nose at the end of a long overhang a counterpoint to the short, sharp cut of the tail.

Whilst hunting around the Italian club section of the Classic Motor Show, I stumbled upon this vision in red: a 1977 Lancia Beta Montecarlo Series 1 coupé. It was immediately recognisable from the shape, but at the same time a number of details shouted that this was no stock Beta. The tail lights? The wheels? The VX on the nose? Particularly the latter pointed to something unexpected going on here, and the result is a super smooth coupé that makes an unholy noise.

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

Outside of dedicated shows you don’t see a Montecarlo very often these days – for obvious reasons I’ll have to touch on – but the model provided the starting point for some of the most iconic competition cars of the time. The fearsome 500hp Group 5 Montecarlo Turbo. The outrageous Abarth 030 prototype. The supercharged 037 Group B car that would go on to win the ’83 World Rally Championship. But even the base car is a special thing.

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

This car, belonging to Paul Millet, is recorded as the oldest survivor in UK spec with its glass inserts on the rear buttresses and right-hand drive. That says more about a Beta than just the fact it’s 39 years old. It’s a car from the period where the reputation of Italian cars performed its infamous volte face, going from defining style and sophistication to being the winner of the who-can-rust-fastest and general derision competition in record time. For a Beta, the Rusty Slammington look is just natural, the same as finding one in a junkyard doesn’t shock.

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

It’s another cross that us Italian car fans have to carry. The Beta’s rust issues hit national headlines, and within a decade Lancia had pulled out of the UK entirely – a market that previously had been its largest – and irrevocable damage was done to the reputation of all Italian marques. The Montecarlo was the zenith of the Beta range, but the build problems mean that a lot of street survivors not in the hands of collectors are in terrible condition. Rebuilds are basically default for new owners.

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

This Montecarlo started its life well, winning its first concours at just three months old back in ’77. Having bought it back in ’91 and subjected it to a complete rebuild over five years, Paul has returned it to that quality and more.

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

So although it looks quite stock on the outside, with those classic Pininfarina-penned lines rightly retained, Paul has made serious changes beyond the stabilisation of the chassis and body. There are the smaller things – like mirrors from a Lancia Delta let into perspex quarter-lights – but then there are larger things…

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

This Montecarlo is a riotous mash-up of all the best things about Italian cars, starting of course with the perfect aesthetic addition of Compomotive TS501 three-piece, 15-inch split rims – more commonly seen on an F40.

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

On the tail, the Ferrari nods continue with the addition of round rear lights: from the back you’d definitely think 308, right?

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

And I think the back of this Montecarlo is all you’re likely to see. This Beta is now known as the ‘MonsterMonte’ in Lancia circles, and for good reason. The VX on the nose stands for Volumex – and that means supercharger heaven. On the rear, Iniezione, for the fuel-injected lump that the supercharger punches into.

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

The new engine is a classic Alfa Romeo 3-litre V6, a gorgeous sounding thing on its own – which I say from personal experience of running one. It took some work to get it to fit, with mounts taken from a 75 and a driveshaft from an X1/9, plus some fine-tuning of balance to offset it against the driving position.

But it’s that metal claw on top that really defines this Beta: an M45 supercharger more usually found on an Aston Martin. That’s what creates the banshee whine when this thing is cranked up. Oh the noise…

The 2015 Classic Motor Show, held at the National Exhibition Centre outside Birmingham, featuring over 2,500 classic cars and bikes, and 650 exhibitors

Underneath, the Montecarlo sits on new coils and has uprated brakes to cope with the power hike. Paul’s most often seen hammering M3s on track days, which is the right and proper thing for Alfas and Lancias to be doing. It’s seen as a bit of a reference point for the UK Lancia community; a halo project that shows what you can do to one of these bluff and beautiful machines. Rust be damned, this Montecarlo is full forza Italia.

Jonathan Moore
Instagram: speedhunters_jonathan
jonathan@speedhunters.com

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32 comments

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1
ADimitriRoumeliotis

saw one today!

2

by the way here is mine: ß Montecarlo 1978 Serie 1

3

so, the Beta is now an Alpha?

4

muazyusof > Alfa v6 swap

5

Good lord there is everything right with this car. Those wheels just set it off so aesthetically

6

I really like the 4 round headlights on Beta Montecarlo , it looks so much better IMO !

7

This is just gorgeous. You should make a spotlight of all the Lancias on that stand. They truly deserve that

8

That Alfa V6, simply the best internal combustion engine ever made by the human race.

9
takahashitothetop

I cheese just thinking about driving this car.

10

Busso engine, best looking piece of machinery ever made.

11

JulienDeGeyndt thanks for including the mini for scale

12

An Alfa Romeo heart, an iconic '70s sports car body lines, wrapped in Ferrari-ish styling.

Of course, that set of gorgeous Compomotive wheels fits perfectly as well.

All of these elements blended beautifully, making this little Beta fully packed with '70s Italian sports cars' awesomeness. 
What a beauty!

13

Prachtige auto, Julien! Waar in België is dat? :D

14

The F40 runs 17 inch Speedlines though...

15

klevenspielberg Ah true, but the style at least! I don't think 17s would fit in these arches!

16

Anthony959rs Isn't it just. And the sound... crazy!

17

@HermitsUnited Absolutely damn straight.

18

abezzegh87 It's heinous. It's like death by a thousand cuts, a deliberate dismemberment with some truly appalling models recently...

19

Vittorio Jano They really did! I've got a couple of Lancias I'm looking at tracking down...

20

RDS Yep, it does look good, though I have a soft spot for the trapezoid ones just because of the look of the Group 5 car...

21

JulienDeGeyndt Wow, super nice. I just love the poise of the MC, which your one has perfectly! Bravo.

22

Jonathan Moore klevenspielberg Yeah, sorry for being a pedant :P I completely agree, the 15s look perfect!

23
jbfromsiliconvalley

I bet it sounds like heaven. I've always been a proponent of swapping a Busso V6 into any retro Italian car with a transverse mid configuration.

Step 1: win lottery
Step 2: buy an older Dino w/ missing engine
Step 3: swap w/Busso
Step 4: profit

24

Regarding the m45, is that a typo? Its the eaton normally used OEM on a 1.6 cooper s and way too small for a 3-litre. An m62 or preferably an m90 is better suited for a busso.

25

Bedankt, in Brussel

26

WOW! It's like a hot rod of Italian sorts.. The Alfa v6 sound sweet. Awesome feature and history lesson, props to the owner for doing this as Italian cars must be a whole different ball game from what I'm used to (Japanese)

27

Beautiful Lancia, i have it as a project to make.. In 3D of course, I don't know if you could even spot one of this in venezuela

28

Yes it's a m90 (typo)

29

Not to everyone's taste but I like it that's why I owned it for 24 years! Ps it shifts tooU0001f61c

30

Jonathan Moore klevenspielberg I'm currently running 17's on my monte, so they will fit.

31

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