1982 Lancia Zagato convertible
Original cost: $10,810.00
Previous owner: A doctor in Omaha, NE (2000); Bernie and Janice Taulborg Collection
Number made: 764 (9,390 total production, all years, with only 2,100 imported into U. S.)
Engine, etc.: 121.7 cu. in., 87 hp; front wheel drive; 2,650 lbs.
Lancia was purchased by Fiat in 1969.
The Zagato was the first model developed after Fiat’s takeover and was a variation of the Lancia Beta family. Its front-wheel drive was a Lancia trademark.
A coupe was introduced in 1973 and was based on the original Berlina model.
The famous Italian design studio, Pininfarina, was hired to design the convertible, based on the coupe. The top’s lift-off hard center section and fold-down fabric “convertible” rear with a plastic window resulted in a targa-type roof line and was a concession to 1970’s safety issues regarding a standard convertible design.
The result was the Spider, known in the U. S. as the Zagato. It was first brought to the U. S. in 1979.
Though the Zagato’s engine made a mere 83 hp, it propelled the 2,700 lb. car through a quarter-mile in 19 seconds. Road and Track found the Zagato “a tremendous amount of fun to drive”.
The Zagato had a strut-type suspension front and rear and a multilink lower rear arrangement.
Lancias weren’t officially imported to the U. S. in 1980 but they returned in 1981 with a major change to Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection. This pushed horsepower to 108 and knocked 1.5 seconds off the car’s 0-to-60 time.
Autoweek reported that the engine was “silky smooth” and handling was “quite predictable and forgiving” though the power steering was a little “too loose and desensitized”. Another review said the Zagato “might be comfortable – if you had no legs”.
Production of the Zagato ceased in 1982 and this was the last year Lancia was in the U. S.