Vintage R&T Review: Lancia Scorpio (Monte Carlo) – “…a Scorpion without its stinger”

Let’s follow up our look at that Fiat X1/9 with its big brother (or sister, depending), the Lancia Scorpion (Monte Carlo in Europe). It was originally designed to be the X1/9’s bigger brother, to be called the X1/20. But pehaps because the 124 Spider was such an evergreen hit, or because Lancia needed a boost, it arrived as such, and was even referred to as a Beta at the beginning.

It promised much: a bold (and successful, in my eye) rolling sculpture by Pininfarina, and much of the same basic technical approach that made the X1/9 such a delight on a windy road. There was just one thing missing: power. Yes, it was 1975, but surely a bit more could have been done to give the Scorpio a bit of bite.

81 horsepower. 0-60 in 13.4 seconds. 19.1 seconds for the 1/4 mile. For such a dynamic-looking car. What a shame.

Handling was very good, and with no sacrifice in ride quality. A little Ferrari, in other words. Brakes were another weak spot.

I used to love seeing these on the road in LA; what a breath of fresh air compared to the typical dull American car of the times. But they mostly didn’t stick around too long, although a few were survivors. And it was undoubtedly easy to make them come alive with the right engine mods, although getting around California’s smog tests made that challenging. If there’s a car I’d like to spot on the street today, it would be one of these. The odds are not exactly good.