An example of the Ferrari-engined Lancia Thema 8.32 would be a novel enough find on a European classifieds site but this one is on Craigslist. Located in scenic San Francisco, this restored and virtually spotless Thema 8.32 is one of a tiny handful imported to the US long after their production run in Europe. Curbivores, is the $34,000 price of admission worth it?
For those unfamiliar with the Thema, it was Lancia’s flagship between 1984 and 1994 and shared the Type Four platform with the Fiat Croma, Saab 9000 and, later, the Alfa Romeo 164. The Thema was the only Type Four car to receive a station wagon variant (albeit only in LHD markets) and the only one to feature a V8.
That V8 was a 2.9 V8 related to the one powering the Ferrari 308 and Mondial Quattrovalvolve and built by Ducati; the 8.32 name signified the number of cylinders (8) and the number of valves (32). The small yet sonorous transverse-mounted V8 produced 212 hp at 6750 rpm and 210 lb·ft at 4500 rpm and was mated to a five-speed manual. Top speed was 149 mph. From 1989, it was detuned slightly to 202 hp and 194 ft-lbs.
Lest you think this was some track demon because of the Ferrari V8 and the mandatory stick, I must remind you this was a rather large, front-wheel-drive sedan. Though it was rapid for its time – the 0-60 sprint took 6.8 seconds, the quarter mile in the mid-15s – this was more of a high-speed cruiser.
When new, the 8.32 cost around double the price of the base Thema. Somewhere in between sat turbocharged 2.0 four-cylinder Themas with similar torque figures that were only fractionally slower to 60mph. That didn’t quite help the 8.32’s value proposition but the V8 model compensated with niceties like a Poltrona Frau wood, leather and Alcantara interior and a trick electrically-retracting rear spoiler. From outside, however, the 8.32 was exceedingly discreet and differentiated from lesser Themas only with subtle side skirts and badging, different mirrors, and unique 15-inch alloy wheels. Unfortunately, the Thema was already the most understated and conventional-looking of the Type Four cars and consequently the 8.32 is rather unassuming. That is, until you hear that throaty V8 burble.
In total, 3901 8.32s were produced between 1986 and 1992 and a few have eventually found their way to the US. This 8.32 has 110,806 miles on the odometer but has been well taken care of. I’ll let the ad and pictures – of surprisingly high quality for Craigslist – do the rest of the talking:
This exceptional example was recently refreshed by our team in Italy and has undergone a thorough cosmetic redo, new paint, comprehensive interior restoration and detailed mechanical inspection and rebuild as necessary. All import paperwork is in order, and fees and duty paid.
The base car was in excellent mechanical condition overall prior to restoration. From the ground up all suspension components were inspected, new bushings installed as required, lower left control arm replaced, new shock absorbers fitted front and rear, finished with a 4-wheel alignment and balancing. Rims were inspected and reconditioned.
Under the hood, the entire drivetrain was tested and proven mechanically sound. Engine showed good oil pressure and compression. Replacements included the clutch cable, shift linkage components, coils and spark plugs, sending units for cooling and oil pressure, mid and rear exhaust system and replacements of all fluids. A new air conditioning compressor was installed along with a full recharge of the AC system. The car now starts and runs like new.
There was no visible rust on any part of the entire body. The undercarriage is in exceptional shape and has been cleaned. The entire body was hand sanded in preparation for a respray in the original Lancia green and finished with a 2 stage clear coat. New pinstripes to match original Ferrari paint scheme were applied. New tail lights were installed and the seals for the retractable spoiler were redone. All exterior trim and badging touched up. The car shows beautifully with a rich, deep luster to the appealing and uncommon metallic green color.
The plush Alcantara interior was professionally cleaned and sanitized including seats, door panels, carpeting and air ducts. All instruments and dash wiring were inspected and repaired as necessary including all gauges, controls and dash lights. The headliner was removed, cleaned and refreshed with new padding. Interior now shows as new with no visible wear or any staining or deterioration of the materials. Dashboard sports an impressive array of gauges and controls, all in perfect working order.
On the road the 8.32 behaves like proud stallion. The Ferrari V8 starts with a subtle roar, idles smoothly and runs strong and clean at all rpms. Shift and clutch action are sure and crisp. The steering is tight and balanced. This Thema 8.32 handles rough roads with a confident poise and surprising comfort. The car demonstrates its premium character and sophisticated engineering at every opportunity.
A very clean and solid example with a well done full cosmetic restoration. Rides, drives and runs like the thoroughbred it is, with an upscale, high tech interior that is sure to delight any enthusiast. Very rare, and in very fine shape … a unique and desirable motorcar by any standard
On one hand, $34,000 is a lot to pay for a conservatively-styled 1980s sedan that’ll likely be a nightmare to repair and service, especially so far from home. On the other hand, this is one of the only sedans to ever use a Ferrari engine (and the only Lancia) and one of the most remarkable Q-ships of the past thirty years. Is $34,000 a fair price? If you want to buy it, here’s the ad. I must point out, however, that a condition of purchase is you must write about it on Curbside Classic.