When Herbie the Love Bug went to Monte Carlo he fell in love with Giselle, a sexy Lancia racer. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Scorpion is painted in homage to the object of Herbie’s affections, but will its price make it a DNF?
Yo! I said YO! With yesterday’s 2003 Honda Civic Si hatch we threw down some serious street cred. Unfortunately for its seller, the price was seen as discrediting, and it fell in a narrow but decisive 58% Crack Pipe loss. Flat billed caps everywhere un-flattened in sad solidarity, sort of how a good bit of the country is feeling today. You know what we need to do? That’s right go to the happiest place on Earth. Failing that, let’s talk about a Disney movie.
You know what was great about the Disney flik Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo? That’s right, it had Don-freaking-Knotts in it. Yes, the earlier movies had Buddy Hackett, and the last one had Lindsay Lohan before she knew cocaine on a first-name basis, that is true. Don Knotts however, who played the wonderfully-named Wheely Applegate, was a national treasure. I mean, have you ever seen his Barney Fife? It’s classic!
Speaking of classic and Herbie the Love Bug, another supporting actor in the Monte Carlo film was, in fact, a Monte Carlo. A Lancia Monte Carlo, driven by the delightful Julie Sommars. Actually, it was an American version, the Scorpion, but work with me here, okay?
Anyway, in the movie Sommars’ character and Herbie owner Dean Jones meet cute, then fight, then finally fall in love. Wheely also pitches woo with the trophy presenter so yeah, go Don! Not only that but Herbie and Giselle finally get to spend some quality garage time together as the end credits roll. Oooh, should I have prefaced that with a spoiler alert?
Here we have a 1976 Lancia Scorpion. As noted, that was the American name for the Monte Carlo as Chevy was already selling a baroque boat with the sobriquet when the mid-engine’d Italian was introduced. We’ve talked about these cars in the past, about how the design was originally planned to be the X1/20, a big brother to the X1/9 and replacement for the Fiat 124 Sport Spider. We also noted that somewhere along that path Fiat decided to give the car to their upscale brand Lancia and keep the Spider rolling along for another decade as well. Lucky Spider.
The Monte Carlo was a car of contrasts and compromises. Artful in the extreme—I mean, look at those lines, there’s not a one out of place—but the model also featured some engineering decisions that clouded its capabilities.
This one looks like Giselle, and like Herbie, how could you help but fall in love with her because of that? There’s a lot to like here too. The engine is claimed to have been rebuilt just 2K ago and is a 2-litre instead of the factory-installed 1,756-cc 81-horse four. A five-speed stick backs that up as they do.
The bodywork under the Giselle dress seems to be reasonably free of road rot. That’s a big deal since all these cars seemed to be like the tape recorders in Mission Impossible—timed to self-destruct. Yes, there is some surface rust here and there, but it looks totally manageable.
Okay, this is a 40-year old Italian car so you know there’s another shoe that’s going to drop. That pointy-tipped loafer is in fact the fact that the car overheats. The seller says that the cause is the cooling fan electrical connections being hit or miss. The car runs and drives, but he recommends towing it home for the fix since it doesn’t presently like the traffic.
Other issues include recalcitrant wipers (a replacement motor is included), a non-functioning horn button (part also included), and some fading on the interior surfaces (shoe polish not included). Gauges work, some better than others, and there’s a bunch of weekend project kind of stuff to be sorted out. The title is clean and mileage is 56K. That is a lot for a Scorpion, but then with a car of this age, does that even matter any more?
What does matter is the price and that’s a cool $2,125. The seller says living in San Francisco means he can’t put the car to good use and so it’ll be up to a new owner to take over its stewardship. What do you think about that $2,125 price and the movie star make believe? Does that mean this Scorpion will take home a best actor award? Or, does that mean it can’t get arrested in this town?
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