The Lancia Beta (Type 828) was an entry-level luxury car produced by Italian car manufacturer Lancia from 1972 to 1984. It was the first new model introduced by Lancia after it had been taken over by Fiat in 1969.
The Beta was made in several body styles, namely 4-door fastback saloon (Beta berlina), 4-door three-box, notchback saloon (Beta Trevi), 2-door coupé (Beta Coupé), 2-door targa (Beta Spider), 3-door estate (Beta HPE); a mid-engined sports car was also sold under the Beta name, the Lancia Beta Montecarlo.
All versions of the car came with DOHC engines, five-speed gearboxes, rack and pinion steering, fully independent suspension using MacPherson struts, both front and rear, with disc brakes on all four wheels. The front-wheel-drive models were available in a number of engine capacities ranging from 1.3 L to 2.0 L. Breathing was provided by a single Weber carburettor until fuel injection was introduced on late two litre HPE and Coupe models.
As with a number of previous front-wheel drive-Lancia models, the engine and gearbox were mounted on a subframe that bolted to the underside of the body. However, in the Beta the engine and manual gearbox were fitted transversely in-line. This Fiat-inspired configuration not only enabled neat engine bay packaging, but also, by tilting the engine 20 degrees rearwards, the Lancia engineers achieved improved weight transfer over the driven wheels and towards the centre of the car, as well as lowering the centre of gravity. The rear-wheel drive Lancia Montecarlo employed a similar layout except the subframe was mounted at the rear.
On the front-wheel drive Betas, Lancia designed a particularly original independent rear suspension with MacPherson struts attached to parallel transverse links that pivoted on a centrally mounted cross member bolted to the underside of the floorpan. An anti-roll bar was fitted to the floorpan ahead of the rear struts with both ends of the bar trailing back to bolt to the rear struts on each side. This unique design went on to be used in later Lancia models. The design was never patented by Lancia, and consequently inspired similar rear suspension system layouts in other manufacturers’ vehicles during the 1980s and 1990s.