1976 Lancia Scorpion

The Scorpion was known as the Montecarlo elsewhere. On paper, these seemed appealing: Pininfarina styling, mid-engine layout, decent 4-cylinder power.

The European Montecarlo probably performed just fine. But we wouldn't know, because the car that was imported here under the name Scorpion was a very different automobile.

The Scorpion suffered in the same way most imports suffered when they came over from Europe in the mid-70s: styling changed for the worse and performance was curbed. The U.S. 5 mph mandate put on hundreds of extra pounds in larger unsightly bumpers. Emissions regulations forced the engine size to decrease from 1995cc to 1756cc, which produced just a pitiful 86 horsepower. All U.S. versions came with large convertible top that decreased structural rigidity and increased noise. Brakes were said to lockup. And even if frustrated and disappointed owners decided to keep their Scorpion, it often succumbed to rust very quickly and easily. Pleasant these were not.

Fortunately, this seller has made numerous modifications to improve it.

For starters, they've replaced the engine with a larger 2.0-liter from a 1979 Fiat Spyder. This provides more low-end torque. Second, they've replaced the heavy U.S.-spec bumpers with the smaller, lighter fiberglass Euro pieces. Lastly, they've done a bunch of modern upgrades, like an aftermarket stereo with Bluetooth, touch-sensitive HVAC controls, and remote locking.

Miraculously, the seller says the body is free of rust.

The Scorpion was a very noisy, crude and unreliable car. The seller admits that even after all his work, it is still not a good highway cruiser. However, if you have a soft spot for the Scorpion and must acquire one, I advise looking into this one or something like it. Stock examples just aren't going to cut it, unless you're a real stickler for originality. But the Scorpion is one of those rare cars that really aren't worth having original.

Available here on ebay in Cameron, South Carolina with bidding and a Buy-It-Now of $11,500. Hemmings CPI Value Guide puts a Scorpion in good shape at $3,950.

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