Rare Rides: A Lancia Scorpion From 1976, Regulation's Puppet

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a lancia scorpion from 1976 regulations puppet

A pleasantly desinged Pininfarina body carves its way up the Amalfi coast in Italy. The sun shines down through the targa roof, highlighting your gold-rimmed aviators. Dropping a gear, you put all 120 mid-engine horsepower to use. The back of your car says MONTECARLO, and you’re winning.

But things in reality are a bit different, because this is America and we have regulations. I give you the Scorpion, by Lancia.

North America received Lancia’s Montecarlo model badged as the Scorpion, for 1976 and 1977. The Scorpion name was only for North America, as Lancia could not tread upon Chevrolet’s existing use for their [s]small and sporty[/s] gigantic coupe.

American emission regulations required replacement of the standard Montecarlo’s 2.0-liter engine with a 1.8-liter unit, which featured additional power-choking smog equipment. This combination resulted in an 80-horsepower power figure, down from the 120 in other-market models.

Exterior alterations were required for the US market, including big rubber impact bumpers.

There were also some sort of pop-up lamps.

All examples for North America featured a retractable targa roof, which surely remains water tight in all examples.

The interior of the Scorpion is in the style of “modern” late ’70s car design, with blocky shapes and angles that don’t make a lot of sense.

A rather unsuccessful run saw just 1,801 total examples of the Scorpion on the streets.

Though it remained a blip on the radar in the North American market, the Montecarlo would go on to a second generation elsewhere in the world. This second generation would form the basis for one of Lancia’s most important vehicles: the 037, which won the 1983 World Rally Championship.

This particular Scorpion was on eBay recently, listed as a fixer-upper. Though the original owner put 124,000 miles on the odometer between 1976 and 1983, there were 18 years of neglect afterward. The present owner had been slowly restoring the Scorpion since 2001 before life changes forced a sale.

A lucky buyer spent $5,100 on our regulatory Rare Ride.

[Images via eBay]

H/t to commenter TMA1, who pointed out a Scorpion listing a while back.

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  • 1500cc 1500cc on Nov 07, 2017

    It would be so much better proportioned if the front axle was moved forward about 6 inches or so. I can't image a reason not to, without the drivetrain up there.

  • Packard Packard on Nov 09, 2017

    The Rest of the Story- 1976 Scorpion. Having owned a Scorpion and two Beta coupes I thought I would add some information. The 1976 Scorpion was Road and Track's 1976 car of the year. Its list price was almost $15K. (1976 Porsche would have been a better buy.) I bought my Scorpion in 1983. It needed a little work but was a very good car which I owed for 18 years. These cars were mostly hand made. For example, the driver's door latch was installed with six shims. In general body integrity and gaps were good. The interior was less polished and was not equal to the rest of the car. The canvas roof worked well and did not leak. The big con of this car was lack of power. With emission controls it had 86 hp. Most owners made modifications- 1) remove cat. converter (this was the type with a "Slow Down" warning light); 2) install larger carb.; and 3) install new camshafts. With improvements the car still had under 100 hp but any additional power was an improvement. Some owners later installed the 2000cc Fiat/Lancia engine with Bosch fuel injection- this was 120 hp. This would probably be a big improvement. The Scorpion drove very well and except for the lack of power was a good dependable car which I drove almost every day.

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