British sales began in 1973, and John Bolster of Autosport described the Beta as “the best Lancia yet”. Prices ranged from £1,594.45 for the 1400 to £1,798.22 for the 1600 and £1,988.88 for the 1800. By contrast, a Cortina 2000 GXL cost only £1,521, but a Beta owner probably regards the Ford as a transport for wide boys; the Italian car’s main rival was perhaps the Triumph Dolomite Sprint at £1,860.
The line-up received a facelift in 1975 and only a year later it was the company’s best-selling model. Sadly, it quickly became apparent that the early models suffered from corrosion of the suspension and engine subframe mounts.
A 1974 Car magazine test stated: “Conceived and built with a care that is all too rare in modern motoring, the Beta has a real feel of integration and totality.” However, the “Rust Scandal” and consequent recall irrevocably damaged Lancia’s reputation. By the time production of the Berlina (salon) ended in 1981 after 194,914 units, countless potential buyers had defected to Audi and Saab. This paper wrote of its replacement: “In view of the Beta’s well-publicised rust problems, it is not surprising that the manufacturer makes no mention of the Trevi’s relationship with that unfortunate car.”