By Maz Woolley
All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.
The Lancia Beta was a luxury car produced by Lancia shortly after they had been taken over by Fiat using much technology from Fiat stock rooms to bring the model to the market quickly. It was produced from 1972 to 1984. It was made in several styles but this article looks at a model of the fastback saloon which was sold as the Berline.
The car was well received by the motoring press for its quality fittings, comfort, space handling, and performance. Sadly, the first series of cars was exceptionally quick to rust so they depreciated badly and were the main factor in the decline of the Lancia brand in the UK. It is said that the cars used Soviet steel sent to Fiat in exchange for royalties to build the Lada, but as far as I know this has not been proven. Poor preparation and rust protection may also have played their part as this was the era of frequent strikes and poor build quality for many makers. Indeed so bad was the rust on relatively new cars that the UK Distributors were said to have bought back and crushed a significant number of the cars in an attempt to maintain brand loyalty.
The model is by Pego a brand that I had never heard of before and which does not seem to have a wide distribution outside Italy. The firms addresses are in Italy but I cannot find any web presence at all. They seem to have made only a few models, all of Italian cars, and all appear in multiple colours and some in rally, or rally assistance liveries too:
- Alfa Romeo 90
- Alfa Romeo 146
- Alfa Romeo 33
- Lancia Beta Berlina
Here we look at the Lancia Beta Berlina which is available in several colours and in rally assistance liveries. The model that we are looking at is in red. And as far as I can determine is the only version of the first generation Beta Berlina currently available in this scale. It is modelled to 1:43 scale and made in China with a diecast body and plastic base.
The model box and its fittings as well as the standard of the model suggests that it may have been made by Universal Hobbies for Pego. Perhaps in that case it has already appeared in a part work or may do so in the future. Though, unusually, the model has Pego moulded into the base rather than printed, and also printed on its plinth. This may mean that Pego has exclusive use of the moulding – we will see.
The Beta was an attractive car for a family saloon and the transverse front mounted engine made for a spacious interior and a large boot space. The model catches the overall shape of the body very well, though I think that the side windows are a little shallow. However this is difficult to determine as the car has the body printed silver window surrounds often also seen on Oxford Diecast models. Whilst this detracts less from the model in 1:43 scale it is still a shame as flush fitting widows would have been a much better solution.
The wheels are neat mouldings of the alloys fitted to the original car though they could have done with a darkened centre from the pictures of 1972 cars on the web.
The front grille is an excellent unit with separate light lenses inserted and though my photographs do not shown it clearly the Lancia Badge in the centre of the grille is nicely done. The front indicators in the bumper have not been mounted straight which is easily remedied with a careful push back into place. The windscreen wipers are plastic plated items produced quite finely and seem rather more realistic than some etched ones are.
At the rear we have nice separate lights, albeit that the fixing lug shows through too obviously. Curiously the rear number plate was not fitted to the car but attached by clear tape under the base. It would have been nice to have period authentic number plates printed front and rear but they are absent from this model. The Lancia badging which shows that this is a Beta 1800 LX is neatly printed on the boot lid.
Inside the model is a moulded tub in black with no details picked out. The dashboard and central console have been moulded in some detail and the door cards have the door furniture modelled in. A steering wheel is fitted with some moulding to it to match the real car. It is all is very difficult to see as the glazing unit is pretty thick.
Although model has some shortcomings it is a welcome addition to my collection. The original car sadly never lived up to its promise but hopefully my model will not rust as quickly!
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