Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Lancia Montecarlo VS the Fiat X1/8 VS The Chavvy Probe + a Capri

It is a widely held belief that the Montecarlo was a development of the Fiat X1/9. However there is some evidence to suggest the Montecarlo was a totally separate yet complementary development. Further evidence to this fact is found in the Pininfarina Centro Stile archives where the project code name is X1/8.

At the end of the Sixties the demand for conventional Fiat roadsters (850 and 124) was reducing, so they decided to study new 'closed' two-seaters. For this purpose the projects X1/8 and X1/9 were started. The X1/9 was released first and it allowed Fiat to check reactions on the market before launching the X1/20.

The type of car envisaged can be seen from these early drawings, made long before a single prototype was built.

The Fiat X1/8:

The Fiat X1/8 prototipo zero was built in July 1970.

The Fiat X1/8 prototipo uno was built January 20th 1971.

The Montecarlo...

The Montecarlo is generally the most sought-after Beta of all, a two-seater mid-engined coupe or convertible using essentially the same drivetrain as the 1995 cc carburettor cars, but with an entirely new Pininfarina-styled bodyshell (usually described as a 'Mini- Ferrari' due to its resemblance to many of the Pininfarina Ferraris.

In 1975 Lancia announced the launch of the Montecarlo at the Geneva motor show. Styled by Pininfarina, the new car was mid-engined and offered fine handling, and ride comfort. These prototypes were produced for motor shows across Europe and lent to journalists to review. I have an example of such a review from Autocar 11 October 1975 shortly after the car was exhibited at Earls Court. There were some complaints about the rear vibility as the car had solid rear quarter panels above the engine bay. Lancia promised that cars would become available "early in 1976", a timescale that was never met. a nutshell, this was Lancia. Like the guy you really, really fancy but is late for every date and is practically falling apart at the seams, but you love him regardless because..well..he's hot. & has that "something".

Lancia Montecarlo.

Oh how you all laughed at my Ford Probe. But it's a poor man's Capri, which is a slightly richer European man's Lancia Montecarlo. Only the Probe, in all its vulgarity (mine was metallic purple with purple puma's embroidered on the seats and a gold number plate surround - all this came with the car. In, well, Ohio.), it doesn't break down all the time.. It won't rust.

But let's face it, if it was late for a date by 5 minutes you'd fuck off home and not answer its calls. The Capri... I'd give it a second chance. But not a third.

1970's Ford Probe Concept.

1970's Ford Capri MKII.

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