It just doesn’t get more Italian than this. A warm-blooded potpourri which could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds – even if it happened through a pair of screaming and suffering front tyres.
Lancia introduced the Thema model in 1984 at the annual Auto Show in Torino. It was more luxurious than the competitors and – in theory at least – better built than the sister car from Fiat. Thema was a handsomely designed executive saloon with a sensible choice of engines such as a torquey and smooth V6 or effective 4-cylinder turbo engines. A sound sales strategy, but perhaps not worth getting overly excited about.
Even Lancia must have found these sensible choices just a tad too sensible, because at the Torino exhibition two years later in 1986, the red carpet was rolled out for a rather different Thema sporting a Ferrari V8 engine. Whoooaar!! All at once the Thema wasn’t only noticed by people wearing blue shirts and dark suits with home equity, good pensions and self-closing kitchen drawers. Suddenly auto journalists and real men wearing driving gloves were lining up to have a taste of this exhilarating four door saloon from Lancia.
It was dubbed Thema 8.32 to clearly illustrate the 8 cylinders and the 32 valves living under the bonnet. The engine was the same 3.0 liter V8 as used in Ferrari’s 308 and Mondial Quattrovalvo, but with a different crankshaft and a few other changes in the Lancia, such as a different firing order. It was believed that these changes would suit a comfortable saloon better. The engine parts were constructed by Ferrari in Maranello and assembled at the Ducati factory in Bologna.
The Thema 8.32 is a rare bird – Lancia built less than 4,000 of them between 1986 and 1992. They were expensive to buy, and with the thoroughly bulletproof and reliable Ferrari technology of the eighties (tongue in cheek), owners often needed deep pockets in order to keep their 8.32 on the road. When new they were approximately £ 40,000 in the UK – which must equate to six-figures in todays money.
Nowadays you can still find really tidy examples for sale at reasonable money. The running costs can be on the high side due to the exotic engine, and there are also a fair few details and trim which are unique to the 8.32 model. Front wheel drive, saloon body and a sober three-box design can be a show stopper for some, while others find the engine thoroughly irresistible and thereby find the whole concept utterly fantastic. However, I think it’s safe to assume that all of us find this creature deeply fascinating. It is proof that there are bored engineers employed at car manufacturers, who are quite dedicated towards killing that boredom, and who won’t take “No” for an answer.
What are your feelings for the 8.32? Have you always dreamt of owning one? Maybe you already have, or still do? Tell us all about it…