Though you might not know it today, Lancia has produced some legendary cars over the course of its history. Models like the classic Aurelia, the rally-bred Delta Integrale, and of course the Stratos supercar. The Thema might not rank very high among them, except for one version.
A mid-size family sedan, the Thema was based on the same underpinnings as the Fiat Croma, Alfa Romeo 164, and Saab 9000. It had rather stylish bodywork penned by Italdesign, and there was a wagon version styled by Pininfarina.
Most of those produced between 1984 and 1994 had rather humble engines. Inline fours, V6s, and diesels. But the Thema 8.32 stood out over and above its more common stablemates. It had the 2.9-liter V8 with four-valve cylinders from the Ferrari 308 and Mondial, recalibrated for family-sedan duty.
The 32-valve engine produced just 212 horsepower (158 kW) and 210 lb-ft (285 Nm) of torque. That may not seem like much by today’s standards. But then the 964-generation Porsche 911 (which came out a couple of years after this model was produced) barely offered much more, with 247 hp (184 kW) and 229 lb-ft (310 Nm) of torque.
Giugiaro Shape, Ferrari Power
That was enough to send the Thema 8.32 rocketing to 62 mph (100 km/h) from a standstill in just 6.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 149 mph (240 km/h). That may not have made it as quick as the original BMW M5, but it was better than the M535i could muster. That model packed less power at 215 hp (160 kW), the same amount of torque as the Lancia, ran to 62 in 7.2 seconds, and topped pit at 143 mph (230 km/h).
Only 2,370 of these Series I models were sold in Italy between 1986 and ’88, of which this was one. Situated in Rome, it’s held by only its second owner, who is now selling it. The asking price: €24,001, or just under $30k at current exchange rates. These days you’d need a good $7k more to get into a base Alfa Romeo Giulia, with its 280 hp and 306 lb-ft of torque. But the Ferrari-powered Thema is the rarer beast, and is sure to hold its value better than a new Alfa.