1991 Lancia Thema 8.32

Periodically, one will spot a Lancia Thema 8.32 for sale, usually in an opportunistic import & flip scenario.  As recently as March 2015, a nice specimen of this rare, Ferrari-powered FWD Italian executive saloon appeared on this site with an enthusiastic (Ferrari sounds) yet cautionary (better be friends with a Ferrari mechanic) CICFS analysis.

Was the 8.32 European royalty in its day, albeit perhaps an elusive monarch who was admired but few ever saw (e.g., Queen Beatrix)?  Let’s say that I witnessed exactly one example during my three years in Germany.  As a breathless attendee of the 1987 Bremen Auto Show, I recall there being but two cars on display that were locked from peasant-entry:  the Porsche 959 and the Lancia 8.32 (feel free to insert obligatory Italian central-locking reliability joke).

Many of you know how this almost-mythical four-door 308 come to be.  In an automotive act akin to NATO’s settling on a 120 MM smooth-bore cannon for its various members’ main battle tanks (my earlier M1 had a relatively skinny-necked, rifled 105 MM main gun), the Swedes and Italians developed the Type Four platform to underpin the Saab 9000, Fiat Croma, Alfa Romeo 164, and Lancia Thema, respectively.  That cooperation begat attractive, space-efficient, and relatively-mainstream 1980’s – 1990’s sedans that, naturally, spawned special editions such as the Alfa 164Q; Saab 9000 Aero; not sure if I recall the Chroma’s flagship; and of course, the 8.32.

Year: 1991
Model: Lancia
Engine: 3.0L V8
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage:  170,000km
Price: €13,999

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Lancia Thema 8.32 

Bei dem angebotenen Fahrzeug handelt es sich um das exclusive Lancia Thema 8.32 Modell mit einem überlegenen Sportwagen-Triebwerk von Ferrari.
Der V8-Motor stammte aus dem Ferrari 308 GTB Quattrovalvole mit 32 Ventilen und wurde speziell für den Einsatz im Lancia Thema überarbeitet.
Sie haben hier die einmalige Gelegenheit, mit geringem Kapitaleinsatz, ein luxoriös ausgestattetes Fahrzeug mit einem heute, in dieser Qualität von keinem Hersteller mehr verbautem Interieur zu erwerben.

We all know what’s happened with competing sedans of that era.  Cosworth 190E’s have become scarce, both in the U.S. and in Europe, with pricing well along the hockey stick trajectory.  Surviving Alfa 164Q’s and Milano Verde’s are more common, but values have also risen somewhat.  To the CIAFS staff, prices of 8.32 listed have seemed optimistic, as if the admittedly-cool Ferrari component makes the car worth five times more than, say, a 9000 Aero in similar condition.  Armed with our recent successful self-import of a 1991 MB 300CE-24 with dogleg stick and Hugo Boss-style cloth interior, our senior (oldest) staffer concluded one recent winter’s night that he’s savvy enough to try his luck with an 8.32.  Abetting that transaction were a very forthright seller, a Bosch shop owner acting in a quasi-consignment capacity, plus an exploratory visit from Blythbros before money changed hands.  Such factors aren’t likely to converge for future searches.  Moreover, given our German-language skills and many warnings about buying a used car in Italy (with our considerable Sicilian bloodlines, we’re allowed that act of discrimination), we’ve narrowed the search for Germany.  We’ll count on a combination of the attributes described in the ad, photo quality, and gut feel.  And of course, U.S. importation laws (some combination of EPA, DOT, and Customs) do not allow cars of less than 25 years’ age.

The first candidate was a beautiful private-party car near Nürnberg with relatively low kilometers, extensive records including a recent timing belt, and a fair price.  The market agreed, and the car lasted mere days.  We’re therefore describing a dealer-listed car with great attributes and a killer front plate.   The August 1991 manufacture date makes it legal, and the claimed 170,000 KM equates to around 4,000 miles annually.  Maintenance records would reveal whether this is a just-out-of-storage example that would need attention to gaskets, fuel system, suspension components, tires, etc.  The photos point to very mild interior patina and near-perfect exterior condition.  I didn’t say a perfect actual exterior, because the black color doesn’t hide that this car makes a Volvo 740 seem curvy.  And even the wood trim and dash scarcely take the interior out of the dour zone.  The present EURUSD rate puts the €13,999 asking price at around $15,000.  Tack on $1,000+ for ocean shipment, a TBD amount for inland trucking, plus another $1,000 for customs duty and miscellaneous port charges, and the grand tally is in the $17,000 - $18,000 range.  Fly to Germany to make this a vacation like we did with the CE, and you top out near $20,000.  We don’t recall ever seeing an 8.32 listed in the U.S. for less than $25,000.  What we don’t know is ultimate transaction prices.  Either way, for (insert plain sedan name – Corolla, etc.) money, one can have a coveted, mellifluous, square sedan that’ll definitely be royalty at cars & coffee events.  If that excites any readers, CICFS will be happy to be part of the sourcing, logistical, and retrieval process.