1970s / Italian / Lancia / Rust in peace

Rust in peace: Lancia Beta

I spotted the Lancia Beta pictured below after taking a wrong turn in Salt Lake City, Utah, about a decade ago. At the time I owned a 1978 Beta, and I was always on the prowl for another project, so I naturally stopped to take a closer look. I made a mental note of the address and quickly drove off because it was covered in snow and no one was home.

My second visit was more productive. The snow had mostly melted so I could get a better look at the Beta, and I managed to talk to the owner of the house — who turned out not to be the owner of the car. The Lancia belonged to a relative who had left it there with the intent of fixing it up and never came back for it. I was told it suffered from mechanical and electrical issues, and numerous years of sitting in a front yard had taken their toll on the body. It looked fantastic from 10 feet away, but a thorough inspection signaled it needed a good deal of work just to start up and move under its own power again.

There was another issue that prevented me from taking the Beta home: it wasn’t for sale. The owner of the house noticed I drove a Lancia so she kindly let check out the one living in her front yard, but she made it crystal clear it wasn’t going anywhere. I took the photos you see below, chatted for a few minutes, and drove off. The Beta served as a lawn ornament for about two more years before it disappeared.


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