The Lancia Scorpion's greatest foible was that it wouldn't rock you like a hurricane. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Turbo brings a wind of change, but will its price have you saying there's no one like you?
There was definitely no one like you if, by you, it was meant a non Crack Pipe CRX appearing on these very pages yesterday. 68% of you gave that pressurized Honda the heave-ho, and the general consensus was that a bone stock edition would have been more desirable. That car was a compact two seater, sporting white paint and an aftermarket turbo application for its four cylinder engine. In complete contrast, today's candidate is a compact two seater with a white paint job, and an aftermarket turbo on its four banger. Um, yeah. . . other than that, they're completely different.
When originally conceived by Fiat, the car that eventually became the Lancia Scorpion was planned to be the replacement for the parent brand's 124 Spider. Designed as a bigger brother to the 850-replacing wedge known as the X1/9 (which kept its prototype name- the ninth project of the X1 passenger car code) the new car was also planned to carry that sort of nomenclature - as the X1/20. Saner heads prevailed, and with Lancia needing a halo car, the 124 lived to break down another day, the X1/20 becomming the Lancia Montecarlo. And yes, they spelled it all together like that.
In the U.S. The Monte Carlo name was, at the time, already being shoddily applied to Chevy's baroque personal coupe, so here we got the mid-motored Lancia with Scorpion badges. We also lost the tidy plastic bumpers and Euro lights for aluminum and rubber battering rams and headlights that make the car look like Rocky Balboa when they're down. Each Scorpion came to these shores with a Fiat 1,756-cc twin-cam under its sideways opening hood, which also covered the spare tire. That engine produced a Federally approved 81-bhp, which even with the car's relatively light 2,400-lb (and constantly declining due to factory installed rust) road weight, provided performance that was more easy listening than heavy metal.
This 1977 edition attempts to rectify that by affixing a snail under that same sideways engine cover. A similar attempt at overcoming power-sapping emissions controls was attempted on the 2000 Spider's version of this motor, but by then Fiat had also added fuel injection. Here, the turbo sucks through what looks like a Weber DGB or such. There's no water cooling going to that hotter-than-the-sun compressor, only an oil feed, so you might want to check to be sure the bearings aren't coked. Aside from the tidy installation of the turbo, the engine compartment is remarkably complete, even down to the cam belt shroud which usually goes the way of DB Cooper after the first major repair.
In fact, this Scorpion is in remarkably good shape. We've had a few of the mid-engine Lancias featured here, but usually they are in the process of returning to their elemental structures, a fact visible even in a grainy Craigslist ad. This one looks like it just rolled out of the factory. . . And into Luigi's Automotive Repair to fix all the things the commie Lancia line workers screwed up. It is a spider as evidenced by its new-appearing roll-back roof, and it does have the desirable glass panels in the buttresses. The wheels are Abarth-capped Ronals, and surrounding those are the exterior's only questionable elements which are chrome arch edge caps. Those are usually applied as a quick fix to a rust problem, but as this car exhibits no sign of the tin worm anywhere else - and that engine compartment could easily resemble swiss cheese by now - I would wager that the chrome is just somebody's idea sprucing up the car. That's not necessary as the Pininfarina design has aged well, even with the U.S.- mandated nose and ass afflictions.
The inside hasn't aged as well, although it still looks as good as the outside. But the whorehouse red with black velour seats and matching floor mats is kind of an acquired taste, as is the aged Abarth steering wheel, which looks like it's made out of horse peen. Of course it's a stick, as none of the 1,801 Scorpions sold here ever came with fewer than three pedals. The plates say this was a Florida car, but the dealer hawking it is located in Baldwin NY. They provide lots of pictures but limited detail as to the history or mileage of the car, but do say they'll give it the once-over before handing off the keys, for whatever that's worth. As noted, the pics paint a pretty picture of what is a rare and desirable car, made more so by the period-correct turbo application. However, unlike the title of its rock and roll namesake's 2004 roof raiser, this car won't be unbreakable.
For $4,950, what it could be is yours. That's the price this dealer is asking, and it looks like you get a bunch of yellowed old magazines thrown in to boot. Or maybe they're just thrown in the boot, who knows. Anyway, what's your take on that price for this Scorpion? Does it rock your world? Or, for that much, is there no sting in the tail?
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