Lancia Beta HPE
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From Landaben: Lancia HPE

Of modern conception, the Beta had front-wheel drive and its engine was installed in a transverse position. In addition, its frame included disc brakes on all four wheels and independent suspensions on both axles.

The three engines offered were of Fiat origin, all of them with double overhead camshafts and displacements of 1.438 cc (90 hp), 1.592 cc (100 hp) and 1.756 cc (110 hp).

Without a doubt, powerful and well-used mechanics with a five-speed gearbox. With them, the Lancia Beta were placed in the category of medium-high saloons.

Lancia HPE
Lancia presented its first model within the Fiat group at the Turin Motor Show

Lancia Beta Coupe

In 1973, the Lancia Beta range was expanded with the appearance of the Coupé model at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

This vehicle had a wheelbase shortened by 190 millimeters and a height of only 1,285 meters, which made it an agile and attractive 2 + 2 with a sporty character.

With this reduction in size, its length was 3,995 meters. Similar dimensions meant that its body had interior space for two adults and two children, in addition to having a 360-liter trunk, loose for family use.

Lancia HPE
And it ended with the Beta Trevi

At the beginning, the Lancia Beta Coupé's range of engines consisted of the 1.592 cc and 1.756 cc bi-axles, which obtained respectively a power of 100 and 110 hp.

And being fitted with a five-speed gearbox, the lower-powered variant officially scraped 180 km / h. In turn, the Coupé 1800 reached up to 190 km / h according to its manufacturer.

The Lancia Beta Coupé was reused for the first time in November 1975. On that occasion, it was used to introduce the 1.995 cc and 119 hp engine, while the 1800 disappeared and the Coupé received new grille and headlights.

Lancia HPE
An elegant and practical body. In it, up to five people could travel widely

HPE: High Performance Estate

Meanwhile, in March 1975 a new body variant had been presented at the Geneva Motor Show, which was called the Lancia Beta HPE.

Those initials were short for "High Performance Estate", something like "High Performance Break". Thus, the range was adapted to the taste of the moment, in which the three folding rear backrest doors began to proliferate.

In the HPE version, the battle was the same as in the saloon. On the other hand, its length was 10 millimeters shorter and its height reduced by 90 millimeters, which is logical in a three-door model that shared the front with the coupe version.

Lancia HPE
Landaben plant in 1968, when it manufactured the Morris 1100, MG 1100 and Mini

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No to Zaragoza and yes to Landaben

As early as 1973, motor magazines reported on the future creation of a second Seat factory in Zaragoza. However, the insurmountable financial difficulties of AUTHI forced Seat to buy the manufacturer of the Mini.

In this way, from 1976 Seat began to produce a part of the Seat 124 in Landaben. And it also took shape a project forged in 1973, which was the future assembly at the Navarran plant of the Lancia Beta Coupé.

Late in 1977, Seat confirmed that in 1978 not only the Lancia Beta Coupé, but also the Lancia Beta HPE, would be assembled in the Pamplona factory.

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Lancia HPE
Lancias produced in Spain, who would say?

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The Spanish Lancia

But a new setback once again delayed the production of the Lancia. In November 1977, the government chaired by Adolfo Suárez approved the “Sahagún law”, which increased the Luxury Tax on cars over 35 cc to 1.920%.

And since the engine used in the planned Lancia Coupé and HPE was 1.995 cc, there was no choice but to reform them. Its displacement was 1.919 cc, But for this it was necessary to develop a project and reduce the piston stroke to 86,6 mm.

In this way, the Luxury Tax remained at 22%, which allowed these models to cost around 30.000 pesetas less.

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Lancia beta
The "Sahagún law" forced unanticipated mechanical modifications

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Years of commercialization

Added to this new delay was the impossibility of using the name Beta, which was already registered by another company. Therefore, the Spanish Lancia were without more the Coupé and the HPE.

In the autumn of 1978, the assembly of the first CKD units began in Landaben. The components of each Lancia arrived disassembled and in boxes from Italy, while the engine came from the factory in Barcelona.

Production continued until January 1981, with a total of 1.398 Lancia Coupé and 1.349 Lancia HPE mounted. Of these, around thirty were exported and the rest were absorbed by the national market.

The Lancia HPE of Santiago Sánchez

The Lancia HPE unit that appears in the images was registered in 1979. Its initial owner was Mr. Sánchez, who in subsequent years ran Talleres Sánchez, the official Fiat-Lancia service in Vitoria.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sánchez passed away four years ago, so since then it has been his daughter who is in charge of the maintenance and conservation of this specimen.

Today this Lancia HPE leads a quiet life. Always kept in a garage, Ana usually goes out with him once every fifteen days, to charge the battery and enjoy it on the local roads near the capital of Alava.

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Lancia HPE
The owner of the dealership had modern parts applied to him ...

External view

As those of you who know the model thoroughly know, this Lancia HPE has several modifications that take it away from originality.

And it is that, because it is the car of the owner of a dealership, It was always easy to equip it with new components that modernized it. To begin with, its front grille corresponds to the fourth HPE series, imported from Italy since May 1981.

Likewise, the dark gray metallic tone of the body also does not belong to the third series assembled in Landaben. The Navarrese Lancia HPE were only painted in light blue and silver gray metallic colors.

And to complete the added elements, it remains to be noted the vinyl semi-roof, the sunroof, the rear spoiler, the rubber side guards and the Hella fog lights.

Lancia beta
Attractive rims. Sleek and eight-spoke, the FPS wheels measure 5,5 x 14 inches

With the hood up

From the outset, the reinforcements that start from both McPherson turrets are striking, designed to increase the rigidity of the monocoque body.

Likewise, among the tangle of hoses and cables, one can see the engine, whose very inclined and transversal position helped to achieve a very habitable vehicle.

The Lancia HPE it is a well-equipped car for its time. For this reason, the hydraulic circuit of the power steering and the installation of the air conditioning take care of occupying an engine compartment in which little else could fit.

Lancia HPE
The engine inclined in transverse position improves habitability

With the smallest displacement compared to the Italian engine, the maximum power went from 115 hp to 111 hp at 5.500 laps. Even with everything, this figure was comfortable at the time and made these cars the fastest in national production.

Rational bodywork

Thanks to the front-wheel drive and the engine in transverse position, the Lancia HPE dedicates a significant part of its bodywork to the passenger compartment.

In the area between both axes there is room for the occupants. And also with the advantage of the tailgate, which in combination with the half folding backrest allows the space reserved for people and luggage to be modulated.

Lancia beta
Elegant standard alloy wheels. The FPS has a measurement of 5,5 x 14 inches

On the other hand, there are stylish details on the outside. For example, in the rear light clusters surrounded by a chrome profile or in the beautiful alloy wheels, from the Italian firm FPS.

Refined cabin

When entering the interior, upholstery material makes a good impression. Its light gray tone contrasts well with the anti-reflective black, dominant throughout the dashboard and on the center console.

The front seats are comfortable and have a successful anatomical design, in contrast to the rear seats, which are much flatter. And to regulate the driving position there is even a height-adjustable steering wheel.

Lancia beta
A comfortable command. To exit, the occupants of the rear seats simply press the lever on the front seatback.

The instrumentation box has all the desirable information. In addition to the rev counter, it includes a voltmeter, oil pressure gauge, coolant thermometer, and oil thermometer.

Each control is in the right place and forward visibility is good. On the other hand, to the rear the blind spot on the right side is noticeable and that in this unit is corrected thanks to a second mirror.

And reviewing the dashboard, we find a three-speed windshield wiper, a new digital clock in those years, the electric cigarette lighter and the button that operates the air conditioning.

Lancia HPE
Generous information. Successfully designed, the dashboard has no less than 16 indicator lights

And if you have to travel in the back seats, the hardest thing is to go to them. On the other hand, once accommodated, the softness of the bench and the backrest is pleasant. In the same way, there is good space for the legs and on both sides there are windows that can be opened by compass.

For its part, the boot is completely carpeted and has a generous volume, even if the spare wheel is attached to its right side. Here, the great trick comes from the folding backrest in halves.

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Evocative

While we have a coffee, it is time to collect Ana Sánchez's impressions of her Lancia.

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"What I try above all is, through the car, to keep something that represents our father intact over time."

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In her memory, Ana tries to preserve the HPE in the best possible way and dedicate some of her free time to it. "I am the oldest of the three and I worked with him until he passed away four years ago."

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Lancia beta
For Ana the HPE is a precious memory

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“The suspension is tough for my taste, but it makes sense in a sports car. I love the upholstery, which is very warm in winter and is not like it is now ”.

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Likewise, Ana highlights the solidity of the model. "It also has impressive strength, as if it were designed to last for many, many years."

Ultimately, a car that remains a living memory. Beyond its brilliant mechanics and neat interior, this Lancia HPE evokes a father and the joyous moments spent with him.

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Lancia beta
This Lancia is comfortable, although the suspension and the engine allow a joyful use

Booting up

From the first few meters on the road, the power steering is appreciated, while the change control requires a slow engagement so that the gears do not scratch.

In calm plan, the Lancia HPE handles comfortably. And when passing through areas of uneven asphalt it is appreciated that the suspension is firm, with settings designed for a joyful use.

As it accelerates more vigorously, the Lancia HPE brings out its cavalry. Already on a highway, in third gear the legal limit is reached 120 km / h with the lap counter at 6.000 rpm.

Lancia HPE
The mechanics allow to sustain legal cruises at medium regime

Without the need to stretch the gears so much, this car has outstanding performance, which on highways maintains the legal cruise at 3.700 rpm in fifth gear. Accompany the aerodynamic hiss that comes from the mirrors.

Underneath, another four speeds to play with the change in the climbs of ports or in overtaking, where the bi-shaft engine asserts its genius above 4.500 rpm.

And although it is a car that can travel at 160 km / h cruising on German motorways, its frame also makes it stand out on curvy and uneven roads.

Lancia beta
A good frame makes it possible to move freely on twisty roads

His behavior in a lively rhythm is slightly understeer, but with him the Lancia HPE moves on a whim on the turned sections.

The low gravity input, a front axle that grips the asphalt effectively and a power steering that allows maneuvers to be carried out without fatigue contribute to this.

Along the same lines, the four disc brakes contribute to its remarkable braking capacity, in a car that weighs 1.060 kg when empty.

Lancia beta

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Back to italy

In the end, the assembly in Landaben of the Lancia Coupé and HPE was only an episode in the industrial life of both models.

In fact, the Lancia Beta range had a fourth series since spring 1981. In it, the Lancia Beta HPE had their name changed to Lancia Beta HP Executive, which included a new grille and larger bumpers.

Also they happened to have an injection system, that increased the power until 122 CV. And already in 1983, the Lancia HP Executive could be had in a version equipped with a volumetric compressor, which obtained 135 hp at 5.500 rpm.

So the Lancia Beta they continued in commercialization until 1984. And in it there was an extensive range of bodies, ranging from saloons, coupes and spiders to the HPE, the Monte Carlo sports car and the Trevi of the final years.

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[su_spoiler title = »TECHNICAL DATA: LANCIA HPE» style = »fancy»]
• Engine: 4-cylinder in-line, four-stroke cycle
• Displacement: 1.919 cc
• Power: 111 DIN CV at 5.500 rpm
• Gearbox: Manual, 5-speed
• Front-wheel drive
• Brakes: Discs
• Tires: 175/70 HR-14
• Fuel tank capacity: 49 liters
• Length / width / height: 4,285 / 1,65 / 1,31 m
• Roads / Battle: 1,405 / 1,390 / 2,540 m
• Weight in running order: 1.060 kg
• Max speed: 179 km / h
• Average consumption: 11,3 l / 100 km
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What do you think?

Ignacio Saenz

Written by Ignacio Saenz

I am Ignacio Sáenz de Cámara, I was born in Vitoria more than half a century ago. As it happens to many of you, I too suffered / enjoyed from a young age with that impossible to restrain attraction towards any motor vehicle. As I got older, I saw that I also liked to read everything that fell ... View all

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