But if it's the latter, let's at least have a go, shall we? Because, to be frank, we're very much in the former camp, and impartiality be damned. Of course, we do appreciate that it wasn't so long ago that you could pick up a respectable Monte-Carlo for little more than a few grand; a price which in 2018 feels like an absolute steal.
It's an interesting blend, too. If ever there was a car that typified the compromised ownership experience for which Italian cars of this era became known, this is it. The biggest problem with Series 1 cars such as this one was the brakes, which locked up in wet conditions at the slightest provocation; the noisy engine, plasticky cockpit and firm ride also drew approbation from some testers.
The problem with the brakes was so bad, in fact, that Lancia took the Beta Monte-Carlo off sale for two years or so while it sorted the problem out. It reappeared in the UK as the Montecarlo in 1981 - shorn, of course, of the Beta name after the rust scandal that had afflicted the first-generation Beta saloon blew up in 1980. These later, Series 2 cars had their brake servos removed, which went some way toward solving the issue.
Then there's the engine; the classic Fiat twin-cam breathing through Weber 34DATR carbs and capable of producing 120hp. In the Monte-Carlo, its sonorousness is rather overshadowed by its volume, but it does give far more punch than its languorous figures suggest; Motor Sport timed it to 60mph in 8.2 seconds, a not-inconsiderable 1.5 seconds quicker than the official stats.
So, overpriced relic or accessible Italian exotic? We reckon it's the latter. Yes, you can buy some other Italian cars for less, but as we've already mentioned, few do it quite like the Beta Monte-Carlo. And if you're still not swayed, just take a moment to look at the thing: that raked-back snout, the compact glasshouse, the glazed flying buttresses, the pert, chopped-off tail end. When a car looks this good, as we said at the start, words are somewhat redundant.
SPECIFICATION - LANCIA BETA MONTE-CARLO
Engine: 1,995cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 120@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 122@3500rpm
MPG: 30.3 (ECE average)
First registered: 1977
Recorded mileage: 46,000
Price new: £5,927
Yours for: £19,995
See the original advert here.