The Lancia Montecarlo was a mid-engined sports car sold in the 1970s and very early 1980s. The vehicle was named "Montecarlo" (spelt all one word) not Monte Carlo (the capital of Monaco). A low-power version, the Scorpion, was sold in the United States at the same time. Spider versions of the Montecarlo featured a unique roll-back manually operated targa style convertible top.
Based on the prototype Abarth 030, the car was known as the X1/8 (later the X1/20) while in development, and was intended to be a Fiat-branded 'big brother' to the Fiat X1/9. It had a similar mid-engined layout, with a larger engine and roomier interior.
The car was passed to Lancia, and was constructed by Pininfarina, the original design company, in Turin, Italy. Production lasted from 1975 through 1979 for the first series (S1), with a second version (S2) launched in 1980. Production of the Montecarlo ended in 1981.
The Scorpion differed from the Montecarlo in a number of ways. It had a smaller engine (1756 cc) because the 1995 cc unit in the Montecarlo did not pass U.S. emissions standards yet. Between the decrease in engine size and the addition of smog equipment, the Scorpion came with 81 hp (vs. 120 in the Montecarlo). The Scorpion had different bumpers to meet American crash tests. The Scorpion had semi pop-up headlights and the 1976s had solid rear buttresses (Montecarlos had glass inserts except for very early models). All Scorpions featured the convertible top. Unlike the Montecarlo, only one production run of Scorpions was made. A total of 1,801 were manufactured in 1976 and sold as model year 1976 and 1977 (1396 and 405 respectively).
The engine noise in the interior of the car was sometimes criticized; Road & Track listing noise as one of their biggest complaints about the car, with 'little joy listening to the wheeze of an emission equipment-stifled 4-banger', and Motor calling the engine noise a 'raucous cacophony'.
Harsh shifting is common and increases as the bushings wear (a common trait in mid-engined cars). The rear crossmember is a design flaw; the metal used was too thin and is susceptible to corrosion and eventual failure, although stronger replacement crossmembers are available from after market companies.
The S1 Montecarlos and Scorpions suffered from overly boosted brakes, which caused the fronts to lock up easily in the wet. These were often criticised in reviews; for example Road & Track complained of 'severe front locking and 37% fade' and Motor that they found 'it disconcertingly easy to lock up the front wheels when approaching corners'.
As a result production was suspended in 1978 while the braking problems were resolved by some engineering changes including removing the brake servo. The S2 Montecarlo returned to the market in 1980 and introduced Marelli electronic ignition, which improved torque and the 0-60 speed (from 10 secs to 8.6).
Rust is an issue for the Scorpion and Montecarlo. Unless kept in a dry environment active prevention is required to fend off rust. The firewall and wheel wells are common locations for rust. Rusted floor pans are a major cause of early Scorpion/Montecarlo demise.
Any car with the handling and rust problems solved, should be worth considerably more than a stock car. The exception to this is one in showroom stock condition, with very few miles (it is common to find one with < . There is an active Scorpion and Montecarlo community (see links).
The Montecarlo was a successful turbocharged Group 5 racer and was used by Lancia to win the FIA's World Championship for Makes in 1980 and again in 1981. Hans Heyer also won the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft in 1980 at the wheel of a Montecarlo.