Lancia has become an unrecognizable shadow of itself in recent years and the fact that there was no mention about the brand in the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) product presentation in Detroit earlier this month, fundamentally spells out the death of one of Italy’s most historic automakers. While we’re still holding out on an obituary, we did take the time to look up some used Lancia’s on the web and found this rare Ferrari-engined 1988 Thema 8.32 for sale on eBay.
This isn’t an engine-swap performed by some creative individual or even a tuner, but an official collaboration between Ferrari and Lancia that was offered from 1986 to 1992.
Introduced in 1984, the Thema was a premium mid-size sedan born from the collaboration between Fiat, Alfa Romeo (development started before it was absorbed by the Fiat Group) and Saab, which also resulted in the Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000.
The Italians then came up with the idea of stuffing a modified version of Ferrari’s 3.0-liter 32 valve V8 sourced from the 308 and Mondial Quattrovalvole and paired to a five-speed manual under the nose of the Thema, creating an inconspicuous performance saloon to rival the likes of the BMW E28 M5.
From an enthusiast’s perspective, one problem with the Thema 8.32 was its front-wheel drive setup, though, Lancia did make improvements to the chassis and it received positive reviews for its handling from the press of the time.
The Series 1 Thema 8.32 produced from 1986 to 1988 that we discovered on eBay is the non-catalytic version with the V8 rated at 215PS (212hp) returning a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph). The facelifted Series II model with the catalytic converter built from 1989 to 1992 had a reduced output of 205PS (202hp) covering the standard sprint in 7.2 seconds and topping out at 235 km/h (146 mph).
Besides the badges, the bespoke grille and alloy wheels, the only other way to tell the 8.32 from its lesser siblings without hearing the V8 was the retractable boot spoiler, the handmade Poltrona Frau leather interior with wooden trim accents and the beautiful Veglia gauges on the dash.
The 1988 Series 1 Lancia Thema 8.32 for sale on eBay has around 60,000 miles (about 96,000km) on the odometer and is located in Canada.
According to the seller, the car’s condition is as follows:
“The motor needs some work there are two bad cylinders the mechanic did tests on them and determined that it is the valves so it needs the heads to be done, The car runs and drives like this, to see the motor running and more photo go to. Condition throughout great shape no rust, the car is from Japan and has never been driven in the winter .The interior seats are in really good shape, no rip, or stains on the seat. The dash has a crack from the sun and needs to be repaired.”
While the eBay seller states that the car can be imported to the USA thanks to an importation exemption on vehicles more than 25 years old, he will not ship it to the States – our advice to U.S. buyers would be to check with your local DMV before making a move.
By John Halas