The 8.32. Just like the eponymous vanity plates seem to note, every Euro-oriented car geek has heard of this V8 super saloon at least once. Depending of who’s talking, it’s either the ultimate Q-Ship, a four-door Ferrari, or the weirdest bit of manufacturer DNA trickle ever.
To recap it all, the Lancia Thema is one of the cars cultivated by the Type Four saloon project by four automakers. The three others were the Alfa Romeo 164, the Fiat Croma, and the Saab 9000. While Saab played ball a bit differently, striving to make the 9000 considerably more solid than the three other cars, the 164 is the exception of the lot in the way that it’s the only car whose doors are not interchangeable with the others. Of course, Saab’s safety work means the 9000’s doors are a lot heavier than the Croma’s, for example.
But back to the Thema, and the 8.32. True, it’s the closest thing to a four-door Ferrari ever available to the public. Up front, there is the venerable 3.0-litre, 32-valve V8 handbuilt by Ferrari, justifying the “LANCIA by Ferrari” badges on the valve cover. But there’s a footnote to this, as the engine isn’t straight out of any production Ferrari, but is rather an á la carte Modena partsbin solution to make a 308-related engine work in a front-wheel-drive saloon car destined to do more commuting than a Ferrari would ever see.
This particular car, for sale in Finland, shouts its 8.32-ness out loud. It’s also played host to some modifications. Take a look.
It would appear that at some point in this car’s history, it’s suffered catastrophic engine damage, necessitating the mounting of a factory fresh unit. The ad makes note of that, claiming the engine alone is worth 1,5 times the price of the car. It makes sense in a way, as a 8.32 with a humdrum regular four – even the turbo engine – would be such a miserable thing, a car stripped of its credentials and reduced to a shell with shoulder pads. The Ferrari engine has benefited from a re-worked ignition and injection system by Vi-Pec along with a new exhaust, and is claimed to have an output of 245hp while a factory-spec car made do with 205-215 horses.
Interestingly, the Alfa Romeo 164 sibling had a more powerful 3.0-litre V6, meaning that you wouldn’t benefit from a 164 8.32 build in any way other than aural theatrics, or for curiosity’s sake.
Still, just swapping in a new Ferrari unit hasn’t been enough for the owner. There is a Pro-Charger supercharger fitted along with an intercooler, and the ad says that depending of setup, the car’s output can be made to vary from 250 to 430 horsepower, dynoed for proof. In a front-wheel-drive saloon car designed in the early-to-mid-’80s. Huh. Good job there is a limited slip differential.
If you so wish, you can have the car without the supercharger setup. If so, I would opt to have the car with the standard front bumper as well, as the intercooler protrudes so much the bumper has been cut to make it breath.
In addition, I’m not too fond of the aftermarket sports steering wheel, as it clashes a bit with the sumptuous, hand-stitched Poltrona Frau leather interior, which sadly isn’t photographed here in its entirety. The overly blade-y Stilauto wheels would also need to go, as originally the car came with star-shaped wheels seemingly straight from a 328 GTB, which are included in the sale.
Then again, it would feel a bit ill-advised to take this car without all the performance add-ons it’s received. It’s weird, it’s wild. It’s the equivalent of a Saab 9000 Aero with all the tire-shredding Stage something tunes people usually throw at them, but made from an Italian standpoint. It’s really the 8.32 to build, even if it’s not the 8.32 I’d have.
But for 13 000 eur, or 17 000 with the supercharger, what do you think?
Link to the ad (mostly in Finnish)
And, as befits the post, here is the original Lancia Thema 8.32 promotional video. I’ve watched it so many times, I find myself humming the theme music every now and then. Isn’t that what the Thema is supposed to do, drive itself into your brain?