Lancia Montecarlo Development History

Fiat X1/8 and X1/9

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 X1/8/20.

Early sketches

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.

Prototype Development

Prototype cap

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

Prototype cap

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

Prototype cap

In July 1972 the car was renamed to X1/20, and another prototype was built July 31st 1972 with many mechanical modifications.

Prototype cap

On June 1st 1973 X1/20 prototipo quattro was produced. This is the first development of the car that shows an opening roof.

Prototype cap

On May 1st 1974 X1/20 prototipo venti was finished. The car is now recognisable as a Montecarlo, down to the same alloy wheels used on the series 1. This is the car design that was settled on and made ready for production.


Car Launch

The car was supposed to be launched at the 1974 Turin motor show, however due to unforeseen delays it was launched at the 1975 Geneva show instead.

The first public appearance was at the 1974 Giro d'Italia Automobilistico (Tour of Italy). Not actually a Montecarlo, but was a prototype built on a modified X1/20 chassis, with a heavily modified body. Only the windscreen and windows were the same as the Montecarlo, the body had a big snorkel on the (rear) bonnet, and was named Abarth 030 Pininfarina. The engine was a Fiat 130 based V6 3Litre 285hp. Fiat did the same the next year racing the Abarth 031, using the same engine which was a prefiguration of the Fiat 131 Abarth. This car, driven by Pianta and Becker, came 2nd!

Fiat group wanted a new rally car, as fast as it's predecessor the Stratos, but closer to mass-production cars. The 124 Spider was racing during those years but this car was perceived as rather an old car. There were other solutions ready: a 2Litre 16v X1/9, but 500 cars were needed to be approved for Gr.4 and this required time and money. Furthermore the X1/9 was already sold as a Fiat; a Beta Coupé with the same engine with its technical structure couldn't warrant further development. Inevitably the best solution was a brand new mid-engined 2L car as big as (...or as small as...) the X1/9, that is the X1/20.

Just before the Geneva motor show they decided to introduce it as a Lancia, to recall a rallying tradition. The car was named Montecarlo (the rally, it's obvious) but with a Beta badge to link it to a mass-production car.

That's why the car on the Pininfarina stand at the Geneva motor show had Lancia badges but was still named X1/20.

Anyway, the Monte raced very few rallies and the Fiat group mass-production car for the Rally World Championship was the 131.

I must thank Stefano for providing the majority of the information on this page. He has scanned the pictures and researched a lot of the history. Please do not just rip-off the photos or reproduce this information without asking first! Thanks Mike.