Tuesday, March 23, 2010

1986 Lancia Thema Turbo - A Driver In The US

I kind of thought this would happen. This car sold after I wrote this post, but prior to actually posting it. That's happened to me a few times in the past and usually I scrap the post and write about something else. In this case, I'm going to post it anyway. This is such an unusual car to find in the US.

I have no idea how cars like this get into the country. It doesn't matter, it's cool that it's here. (The NY registration sticker says it's a Fiat, but I can't see the year clearly.)

Like the Saab 9000 I wrote about a few weeks ago, the Thema was one of the "Type Four" chassis cars. Interestingly, while designed by Pinninfarina, it shared its doors with the Giugiaro designed Saab. (The Alfa 164 and Fiat Croma, the other Type Four cars, didn't share any body panels or parts with each other or the Saab and Lancia.)

The ultimate Thema to have was the 8.32, with its 8 cylinder, 32 valve (hence the 8.32 name) Ferrari engine. There are a few of those semi-legally (or not) in the US. That's understandable. The 8.32 is pretty close to being a 4-door supercar. If you have the money, it's probably worth the expense or the risk of bringing one to the US.

This car, while no slouch, is not a supercar. The 2.0 liter turbo 4 gave the car a top speed of over 130 MPH and brought it to 60 MPH in less than 8 seconds. Impressive numbers, but numbers that can be had in other, very legal, US cars. For some reason, I find it cool that someone went through whatever effort they had to go through to bring this car into the US.

What's really great about this car is that it appears that it was imported to drive, not to show. It looks like every other older car on Staten Island. It has a few dings and dents, a little bit of rust and some general wear and tear.

The seller's description of the car is vague, to say the least. It's just 3 sentences. We were left to guess (or seek information) as to whether it runs, drives, has any problems, etc.

The selling price of $2500.00 was very reasonable, assuming that the car doesn't need too much work. In my mind, someone got a bargain. I wish it had been me. ("More storage space, more money, more storage space, more money..." My mantra.)

The listing is still up. Click here to see it.


Bill said...

One more year and its legal! Yes it is wonderful to see in the USA. Just don't try to register it in South Carolina. I know they notify the feds on any non federalized car. Probably legally imported into Canada and driven across the border.

Jon said...

Maybe it's my monitor, but the nearly "two tone" paint job near the rear quarter should raise some questions. The text of the description is a bit off as well. On the other hand, you could quickly corner the parts car market with such a minor investment.

There are a few Lancia 8.32's as well as Lotus Carlton/Omega's on YouTube. Fun to watch with headphones.

If I remember correctly, the Thema 8.32 was the equivalent of a homely nymphomaniac.

They looked decent in muted colors, and the tire wheel combo really gave it an aggressive stance.

On the other hand they were marketed when the Delta Integrale was in its prime and they often shared space on the showroom floor. Adding bright red paint to the 8.32 brought out all of its flaws. Somehow, the trunk spoiler on a blue 8.32 seemed to work, while it looked completely out of place on a red model.

Red was a game changer and turned the sexy but discrete librarian into a lumpy soccer mom in fishnets

It's too bad the current Lancia line up took their design cues from the legendary Kia Amanti.

Jon said...

There a roughly a dozen Lancia Thema 8.32's on that French website found on the Renault R 15TL entry below. The cheapest is rolling out for 2500 Euros, and a couple are in the 3500 Euro range.

I've always wondered if tune-ups for the 8.32 were cheaper in the Lancia garage.

Richard said...

I have seen this car creep up before on eBay, seems to make the rounds from one seller to another. Has to be the only one stateside.

As for the 8.32, I can never make my mind up about them. Having a Ferrari engine shoehorned in the front was an amazing achievement at the time....but it wasn't really that much quicker than the turbo, its initial cost was crazy (at least in the UK), running costs were obscene and it was even less reliable than the standard Thema. Plus, a Ferrari engine in a FWD car? Isn't that some sort of crime?