Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Lancia Thema was a model of Italian automobile produced in the 1980s. The 1985 Thema was one of four cars which shared the "Type Four" chassis; the others were Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000.
The Thema was one of the most spacious and comfortable European cars of its time. Its 2.0 L four-cylinder engine, available in both normally-aspirated and turbo versions, was very popular, refined, and offered good performance. These engines originated from a Fiat series designed by Aurelio Lampredi, famed engine designer formerly of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. The earlier car was also delivered with the 2.8 L PRV V6 engine developed in cooperation with the French PSA group and Volvo. This engine was replaced in 1992 with a 3.0 L V6 Alfa Romeo engine, regarded by many as one of the best V6 engines ever made.
The Thema reestabliched Lancia as a high quality luxury producer after the problems the marque experienced with the earlier Lancia Beta in the 1970s. When Fiat sold one of their factories to Russia, they made a barter deal, getting poor-quality steel instead of cash. This steel went into many of the Fiat products in the 1970s and 1980s and nearly ruined the company. The Thema reversed this trend with a galvanized steel chassis. Build quality was higher than the Croma and at par with Saab 9000. However, the sales organisation in many markets was poor, and the secondhand value suffered.
The Lancia Thema survived until 1994, when the marque withdrew from right hand drive markets (including Britain) because of a fall in popularity. But Lancia continued to be one of the most popular manufacturers on the Italian market and the Thema's replacement, Lancia Kappa , helped the marque sell its products well. It seems possible that Lancia may start to import to Britain again.
Today the 8.32 -- and to lesser extent the Alfa engined V6 -- are real Classics.
The ultimate Thema, the 8.32, used a 3.0 L Ferrari Dino V8. This engine was based on that of the Ferrari 308 qv but was built by Ducati and featured a traditional V8 split-plane crankshaft rather than the flat-plane used in Ferrari cars. It produced 205 bhp (153 kW) and was capable of more than 140 mph (234 km/h).
It had good performance (though the Turbo version was quicker from 0 to 100 km/h) and excellent refinement including a luxurious wood-and-leather interior. But a £40,000+ price tag in Britain, and the fact that only left hand drive models were produced, limited its appeal. It was even a rare site on Italian roads, with just 3537 built between 1986 and 1991.
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