Going to Extremes

Successful motor companies are consistent motor companies. Did FIAT miss a meeting?

Image: Aboutcars.bg
Image: Aboutcars.bg

Looking at those who have made a success of the motor business, they stand out for, amongst other things an unswerving consistency. This is not however a trait one could ascribe to the mighty FIAT Group over the past four decades, lurching as they have from crisis to recovery like a cadre of drunken sailors on shore leave.

What has this to do with Lancia you ask? Rather a lot as it happens because not only was the 1986 Thema 8.32 unprecedented in its ambition, positioning and rigour, the fact the concept was abandoned after a few short years and billions of lire spent illustrates the Italian car giant’s chaotic swathe.

The 1970s were catastrophic years for Lancia, so when the Prisma debuted in 1982, few anticipated the neatly styled, rigidly conformist car would embody not just a new direction, but an entire ethos. As the car that saved Lancia’s bacon, its immediate sales success not only confirmed Fiat’s rationalisation strategy, but as such, sealed its future. There would be no more semi-autonomous Lancia’s. Well, maybe just one.

As FIAT Auto’s financial position improved under the enlightened management of Vittorio Ghidella the car giant embarked upon one of their periodic sprees of optimism and expansion. Lancia engineers under Bruno Cena were given the lead in the Tipo Quattro programme, co-developing Fiat’s Croma and Lancia’s 1985 Thema around shared platforms, structures and mechanical hardware. (Saab went their own way). So while they differed in style, mechanical detail and positioning, creatively speaking, the Thema came across as a larger, more refined Prisma. Nothing terribly wrong with that, since its appearance was broadly in harmony with customer tastes. What it did lack however, (like its smaller brother perhaps) was much in the way of personality.

Lancia by Ferrari - the 832 engine. Image: pistonheads
Lancia by Ferrari – the 8.32 engine. Image: pistonheads

That was to be remedied at the top of the Thema range however. While the collaborative 2.8 litre PRV V6 unit was in keeping with Lancia’s heritage, it was neither a high performance powerplant, nor one with a great deal of cachet. Company accountants must have been otherwise occupied at the scoping phase, because the level of engineering changes embodied into the 8.32 programme was staggering.

Having selected Ferrari’s 3-litre Quattrovalvole V8 unit, Lancia engineers demanded so many alterations as to make it virtually unrecognisable. While the 2927cc capacity was retained, the crankshaft was changed from the flat plane original to one with 90° throws. Both the valves and the firing order were also altered to bring the output from 240 to 215 bhp at 6750 rpm, all to make for a more refined, more flexible, smoother running power plant and to salve the internals of the Thema transaxle.

In fact few areas of the car were left untouched. Needless to say suspension and braking were also beefed up, the 8.32 being the first Italian production car with standard ABS. The Goodyear Eagle 205/55 VT 15 tyres were said to have been developed specifically for the car, which combined with ZF speed sensitive steering was instrumental in avoiding wheel fight, the bane of powerful front-wheel drive cars.

Perhaps the most overt manifestation of the care Lancia took over the 8.32 was the car’s electronically controlled, flush-fitting rear air dam, which could be raised by the driver to aid handling balance and directional stability. The other of course was its cabin ambience. Lavish (if optional) Poltrona Frau leather covered every appropriate surface combined with finely finished burr walnut accents. And unlike standard Themas, finish was beyond reproach – all 8.32’s being hand built on a dedicated line at Lancia’s Via San Paulo factory by selected operatives at the rate of 10 per day. The cost of all this must have been eye-watering, yet production plans were limited to no more than 2000 cars per annum and with no possibility of right hand drive conversions, its appeal outside of the home market was always going to be marginal. Business case, what business case?

Lavish. The 8.32's interior. Image: ranwhenparked
Lavish. The 8.32’s interior. Image: ranwhenparked

Car’s Ian Fraser got his hands on one in the autumn of 1987 and was full of praise for its finish, its road manners, and of course that engine. Describing it as “immense”, Fraser noted its “truly impressive” torque, with 80% of the available 215 lbs ft available at 2500 rpm, marvelling at the car’s ability to accelerate in fourth gear from 1000 rpm without protest or judder. “The sheer guts and smoothness of the engine were fantastic”, Fraser noted, “a high percentage of the 8.32’s value must be in that Ferrari engine: be advised, its worth every penny.” Downsides were limited to a lack of steering communication at low speeds, a matter that was remedied at higher velocities – especially once the tail spoiler was deployed.

Image: autobild.de
Image: autobild.de

Demand was strong in its native Italy, appealing to a discrete, monied cohort for whom outward shows of wealth were anathema. Needless to say Gianni Agnelli ordered an even more exclusive version – the only official 8.32 estate built. Enzo Ferrari himself is said to have given 8.32s as gifts to Scuderia drivers, Michele Alboreto and Gerhard Berger, in addition to being chauffeured in one himself. When the mainstream Thema was refreshed in 1988, the 8.32 gained further refinements, including electronic damper control. By then, owing to a lack of space in Marenello, assembly of the 8.32 engine was contracted out to Ducati. Production ceased in 1992 with less than 4000 cars made.

At no time since Fiat acquired the marque was there a Lancia as fully, as thoroughly, as exquisitely realised as this. The 8.32 was a beautiful car, not so much because of its appearance (and it was handsome), but because of the engineering depth and obvious care Lancia engineers took to make a car worthy of its lineage. Nothing this ambitious, this crafted, this rigorous was embarked upon again. Some dismissed it as a latter day Fiat Dino, but in reality it was an attempt, perhaps the last attempt by Fiat to really take Lancia seriously. But with Alfa Romeo joining the fold, it was clear there would be a conflict of hierarchy, one which Lancia could only lose.

Image: Lanciathema.it
Image: Lanciathema.it

Getting back to the subject of consistency however, it is possible to speculate on how much Lancia’s image would have been enhanced had Fiat persisted with this template. With an Integrale-inspired 4wd system, the 8.32’s successor would have been formidable. Yet Fiat lost interest or perhaps realised it simply could no longer justify the outlay. So why do it at all?

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

42 thoughts on “Going to Extremes”

  1. Deliciously mad, would make for a nice practical 4 seater garage buddy to sit alongside a Clio V6.

    How many cows gave their lives for that interior I wonder?

    1. It is lavish indeed – Poltrona Frau’s first automotive commission.

      Wiki has the following to say:

      “Poltrona Frau has since made interiors from automotive companies ranging from Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari and Maserati to Mini, Fiat, Infiniti and Chrysler.”

      Discuss: the presence of a PF interior in an Infiniti SUV undermines the appeal of this appellation somewhat.

  2. My personal view (and it is only that) is that the Fiat Auto of this period, and projects like the 8.32 in particular, cannot be effectively understood by applying the sort of managerial perspective you would find in a typical multinational like GM or Toyota. The last time Fiat was in severe crisis (just after the turn of the century) and cycling through CEOs every few months, one of them – it may have been Marchionne, but I just can’t remember now with any accuracy – was quoted in an interview as saying something along the lines of the following in relation to the Thesis:

    “In the past Fiat has had a tendency to launch vehicles that did badly in focus groups, on the assumption that they would sell anyway. They bombed. We won’t be doing this any more.”

    My guess is that Fiat knew all along they would lose money on the 8.32. Vanity projects in the car industry are by no means unheard of and this bears all the hallmarks of that. Most probably, it was written off as a cost of doing business and effective promotion/marketing for the rest of the Thema range. But more generally, it is also reflective of the willingness of Agnelli-era Fiat in general to splurge on projects like this. I suppose there is a certain logic to it all. If you own a big car company (along with a quarter of Italy) and are richer than Croesus, you might as well get some enjoyment out of it. Paper-thin margins on a million 1-litre Pandas are all very well, but surely there is a bit more to life. Perhaps the closest parallel is Piech-era VAG, in which losing money on certain vanity projects almost seemed to be the point in and of itself – just to prove that they could burn a metric truckload of cash on one of Piech’s follies, and still come out way richer than everyone else.

    It goes without saying that both in terms of its products and as an institution in its own right, historic-era Fiat is rather more interesting than contemporary Fiat. It will be interesting to see if dieselgate brings about a similar change in attitudes at VW.

    Incidentally, Lancia did get quite close to launching an 8.32 integrale – certainly, Quattroruote published stories and photos of prototypes around 1988, if I recall correctly.

    1. That’s a good point well made, Stradale. I salute the collector who parks his Thema 8.32 next to his Phaeton W12 in the garage.

    2. Yes, there is something decidedly Piech-y about the 8.32’s depth. They could have got away with less but instead, they went to unprecedented lengths to produce something both credible and good. Reading contemporary reports vividly illustrates how much difference a characterful engine can make to a car’s appeal. A sizeable percentage of the 8.32’s appeal lay in that power unit and the pedigree that came with it.

      That Fiat CEO quote is quite illuminating isn’t it? Despite Agnelli’s urbanity and his preference for the finer things in life, his appointees seemed to have a distinctly patchy understanding of the luxury car market and while this era saw Lancia bounce back to some form of commercial viability, this success seems to have been squandered again shortly after. Perhaps due to a change of personnel at the top. Fiat management (with the possible exception of Ghidella) seemed to fall into the trap of believing that home market success was enough and look where it got them.

    3. Speaking of Fiat CEOs, I would love to learn more about Paolo Cantarella. He comes across as a man with a genuine understanding of the appeal of automotive products (and Fiat’s 1990s output suggests that too), yet he left Fiat in a terrible state – yet more damningly, the Stilo fell under his watch, and that car was a bonafide brand killer.

      Could anyone suggest any meaningful English-language reading on the man? There’s lots of stuff in Italian, but only basic information in the Queen’s language.

  3. Many people seem to like the 8.32. I almost went down to the South Coast a few years ago to see a just-imported one sitting in a warehouse. I chickened out in the end and, just writing that, I regret it. But I’m sure it would have bombed in a focus group, as much as a Scorpio with a Lamborghini engine would (or a Citroen with a Maserati engine or an Audi with a Lambor … oh). Yet, as soon as you considered it, it made a perverse kind of sense. It has a boxy anonymity at first glance, but then you notice its glowering purposefulness. But a loss-making vanity project only makes sense if the rest of your operation is ridiculously healthy (see Stradale’s comments about Piech-era VAG).

    1. On the healthiness argument, I think it should be emphasized that Fiat was on a roll during this period – it was either market leader in Europe or had just dropped to number 2 behind VW, but either way, it was a major player. The Japanese were still restricted to their quotas, it still had commanding market share in Italy, and the empire hadn’t yet started to disintegrate in a major way. Fiat has traditionally been a company riven by periodic crises, so in historic context, the ‘Uno boom’ allowed for some indulgence. Even before the Stilo, Fiat’s current problems can be traced to the fact that the 1990s stuff just didn’t sell in the way they needed to to maintain that level of market penetration and profits – the first-generation Punto didn’t have the staying power of the Uno, notwithstanding that it was the best-selling car in Europe in 1997, and the rest of the range also started to flag slightly in parallel.

    2. It’s interesting to note that most of Fiat’s big post-1960s sellers were penned by one of the Turin design outfits, while the biggest disappointments (at least in terms of sales) usually came courtesy of Centro Stile. The Giolito 500 of course changed all that, but at the same time it was Giugiaro’s Grande Punto that kept the ship afloat.

    3. Yes, it’s an interesting point. That was one of Cantarella’s more consequential decisions – he brought a lot of the styling back in-house because he believed that it was necessary to establish coherence in brand look (the buzzword of the ’90s). With that said, he wasn’t averse to using the studios as consultants, and sometimes for more – the 156 was fundamentally the work of ItalDesign, for instance, only cleaned up by and of course attributed to Da Silva and Centro Stile. It is also generally kept quiet, but the 2003 Panda is Bertone’s work, and the interior is attributed to I.DE.A.

      As it happens, in fact, while the Grande Punto is attributed to Giugiaro, I am led to understand his involvement was limited to the detail stage – the core product is a combination of Centro Stile front and sides with the rear from an eliminated Bertone proposal.

    4. Stradale, that’s some very interesting insight! I’d heard of the Giugiaro/156 connection before, but I didn’t know about the Panda II/Gingo’s actual origins.

      Regarding the Grande Punto though I’m surprised to learn that GG’s involvement supposedly wasn’t as fundamental. He was quite vocal about that particular car back in the day, and say about him what you like, but he isn’t (in)famous for adorning himself with borrowed plumes.

    5. I began myself to doubt the GP reference after I posted it (age, memory, etc). I was sure I was told at some point that GG’s involvement was not as widespread as intimated, but my notes and Google don’t seem to accord with this. I think what I meant to say was that the GP is definitely not a ‘pure’ GG design, but my initial post does sell his involvement short – I suspect he was quite heavily involved in bringing together the initally-approved themes into the final product. The Panda comment is accurate, though.

    6. For the record, Giugiaro’s initial 156 proposal:

      Later recycled as a new biro.

  4. Gorgeous car, brilliantly evocative of that era. I always liked the look of the Thema, especially post facelift. This just added to that basic rightness. I remember seeing lots of them during a 10 week stay at the university in Siena as an Erasmus student, and just seeing a picture of one like this transports me back to the Campo and Nannini’s gelati. Happy days.

  5. Under the rear spoiler is a small trench. What stopped water getting in there? And if water did get in, how did it get out?
    SV: The Thema is like the Kappa and Peugeot 406. They are pretty cerebral kinds of cars. They are designed to perform unobtrusively.

    1. On the Series 1, a combination of geared and flexible-jointed shafts took drive from the engine back to two small pumps located inside the boot lid. A photo-electric cell reacted to light reflected off any water gathering in the ‘trench’ and engaged two electro-magnetic clutches to operate the pumps. The water was collected in a holding tank which was emptied as part of the service interval, though an owner could option a heated tank that converted the water to steam and vented it into the exhaust system. On the Series 2 the owner was given a sponge and told to keep it dry.

  6. Pity the poor mechanic that has to do a timing belt change on that engine. Does it have to come out for that job, as it does on some Ferraris?

    1. It’s hard to tell from looking. At least it’s transverse, so the belts are adjacent to the RH wheelarch, and maybe there’s enough room to get hands and tools in there to work. In that it’s possibly not as bad as my old Renault 5 Mk 1, where the timing was up against the bulkhead. But that means that checking the plugs on the rear cylinder bank is no fun. That said, when I was thinking about buying one, I was also planning that I’d need to sideline a reasonably large figure for engine maintenance and contingencies.

    2. The engine installation’s lack of accessibility wasn’t entirely lost on Ian Fraser back in 1987 either…

      Thanks to RH for the image.

  7. The Lancia 8.32 has a spiritual successor in the Giulia Quadrifoglio – another heavily re-engineered saloon car with a Ferrari-derived engine (albeit they are being rather coy about it this time).

    There can’t be any sound business case that exists for the Quad, except that someone at Alfa gave it the green light in the hope that its attention-seeking stardust will benefit sales of the entire range.

    Personally I am rather taken with the Giulia, and would happily have one with the 2.0 petrol and automatic transmission, but am awaiting confirmation that it can be optioned with velour upholstery to set off the fetching matt wood trim. This would be as close to a modern day Lancia as possible these days…

    1. There´s a debate – where is the closest thing to Lancia today? The thing is Lancia did lots of different things and there is pre- and post Fiat Lancia. Which do you mean? I am sure my own idea of Lancia would be disputed by 66% of Lancia fans!

    2. In part it’s a generation thing. My idea of ‘proper’ Lancias are those from the 60s, like the Flavia convertible I once tried to persuade my Mum to buy. Even older people than me might say that a real Lancia is rear-driven, and that even the Flaminia Coupe was disappointing after an Aurelia B20. Younger people might even think that a Stratos was the only Lancia with any style or, at least, that a Lancia should be a willing chuckable thing like a Delta Integrale.

      Though I’ve always been attracted to the Appia, a car that actually did have those clap-hand pilarless doors that concept cars always promise, but never deliver. The only problem, of course, is that means you can’t have seatbelts which, I admit, is something I would find problematic if I was to carry passengers.

    3. @ jacomo: It might be the ultimate “No True Scotsman” situation in automotive-dom. Except that no TRUE Lancia fan would admit to considering an Alfa as a seriously plausible alternative. 🙂

    4. Thanks all.

      I do not take a purist’s view of this, being neither a TRUE Lancia fan (I’ve never owned one, for starters) nor someone who believes, for example, that the last true Porsche left the factory in 1993. Life moves on, and car brands either adapt or become, well, Lancia.

      What I was getting at was the modern interpretation of Italian luxury that Lancia used to embody. I suppose it needn’t be an Italian car maker that best embodies this spirit today, if so perhaps Tesla might stake a claim?

  8. The problem with the 8.32 is that it has an engine that needs to be well (ie expensively) maintained, yet you can pick one up for a keen price (there are three today in mobile.de at under €10,000). So it’s the sort of car it’s easy to find has passed through several owners, many of whom (like me?) can’t really afford to keep it in the manner to which it is accustomed. Yet I still wish I’d made that trip down to Southampton. From looking at ads over the years, that interior seems to stand up well, so the quality wasn’t superficial.

  9. Stradale: it´s great to hear the “no true Scotsman” trope being exercised.
    Indeed, it does seem that Lancia means a lot of different things to people but people do have a soft spot for them. As it is, I like the idea (my idea) of Lancia more than the actuality of Citroen but the idea of Citroen is better than the actuality of Lancia. If you see what I mean.

    Another way of putting it is that Lancia is a Rorschach test. Or else it is a broad concept open to a wide variety of interpretations. The fact I bang on about it so much must mean something.

    1. There is something in the Rorschach reference. Quite recently I was reminded of a motoring journalistic trope peculiar to older Lancias, that I have previously had cause to ponder extensively. It is one that, as far as I can see, applies to no other brand, except perhaps to a certain period of Mercedes-Benzes, and even then not in quite the same way. The trope is that motoring journalists, when reviewing a Lancia, will highlight that it feels “like a Lancia” – and that is all that needs to be said, because it is implied that contained in that notion is a clearly-defined, unique experience, the power and irrepressibility of which is intrinsically understood. The phrase could be the ultimate blank canvas, and yet, somehow, it is deemed not to be. This is just a typical example:


      “The Lancia 2C coupe is a Lancia – and nothing more need be said.”

      Even Fraser is at it, in the final par of the snippet posted above:

      “…the person who falls under the spell of this Lancia in the old tradition, will not mind the costs. The car will be the thing.”

      At one level, descriptions like these are impossibly, infuriatingly vague, to the point of meaninglessness. And yet, we understand that they are not. An R107 could only be a Benz, for instance, but that is because of its tangible, fungible attributes like build quality. For me, the feel of a Lancia is something rather deeper, and that is what is being referenced in such descriptions. In that sense, rather than a fixed set of attributes, a Lancia seems to be a car that promotes in its driver that undefined, unstated, yet undeniable, sense of heritage which is inferred, and perhaps, connotes a sense of breeding to go with it.

      This approach has the advantage of being flexible enough to include everything from a a Lambda to an integrale, an 8.32, or even a plain-jane Kappa (although a rebadged Sebring will never qualify, no matter what). It also doesn’t necessarily need halo or brand-defining models to be applicable. James May described the 1995 Y as feeling like one would expect a small Lancia to feel like. Again, the precise parameters are left unstated – it is simply implied that this is a positive attribute.

      To what extent this is a problem has been a problem for Lancia’s brand identity is debatable, of course. It is probably a fair criticism to make that this dependence on intangibles is a problem in a world that, at least for the time being, seems to have shifted inexorably toward endless quantification as the definitive measure of merit. I personally think an inability to define Lancia’s core values (as seems beyond just about every one of the kiddie comic scribblers) says more about them than the brand. But it would also be folly to suggest that Fiat has made the task an easy one over the past 25 years.

  10. “is a problem in a world that, at least for the time being, seems to have shifted inexorably toward endless quantification as the definitive measure of merit.” This is a very good point and one that you seldom see written down. I only grasped it when I wrote an essay on the Peugeot 604.
    Incidentally, the Peugeot 406 feels exactly as a Peugeot should and the 604 had precisely the same sense of “this could only be a Peugeot”. I suspect most cars I will ever drive will be a bit disappointing now I have driven enough miles in the 406. Many will be faster, more luxurious and better equipped. I don´t think any will feel as professionally, perfectly capably sufficient.

    1. The above might also help explain why Lancias were traditionally more popular amongst ‘motoring authorities’ than they were among the public at large. It’s easier to persuade someone of the value of intangibles if they know the full extent of what is available on the market, whereas for someone who has grown up on a diet of Toyotas, the finer points of heritage are altogether a tough sell, the same way it is futile to expect someone who has never had a glass of wine in their life to appreciate the subtlety of a Chateau Lafite.

      Tangentially, you can see the logic of quantification in Mercedes’ recent direction (obviously, more styling flourishes = better). This piece might provide some fodder for the esteemed denizens of DTW to discuss…


  11. Jacomo: if we focus on your point about modern interpretation of luxury then Lancia is in danger of being a glorified trim level for a rebodied Fiat. Frustratingly, the Thesis fluffed the “modern” part by being retro. There is a conflation that luxury means wood, leather and shades of brown and tan. Every time I get on to this topic I see how much more interesting it would be to link properly modern with comfort (luxury leads Lancia onto Maserati territory). I think if this was offered as a brief to car design students they´d find there were a lot of ways to do “modern” and “comfort” without recourse to Italian Roverness. The other thing is that Lancia-ness resided in the things you can´t draw such as the steering, brakes, suspension and refinement. All of that is, seemingly a big ask for Fiat, who show no interest in this stuff yet I confidently assert that if they wanted to have a car with first rate controls they could hire the right staff in three months. You can´t get somewhere if you don´t know where you want to go. Fiat do not have a definition of Lancia (or did not) to pursue other than “leather and wood and retro”. Oddly, they did not see this lack for two decades. I suppose nobody in Fiat really cared about the brand or saw its potential.

    1. Thanks Richard. You and others on here know a lot more about Lancia than I do… I have enjoyed learning through articles on DTW.

      But my limited understanding is that Lancia developed its reputation (‘brand’) through a commitment to genuine engineering quality – spending time and money on mechanical solutions that improved their cars. This is something much more profound than a trim level on a well-optioned Fiat.

      The Alfa Giulia impresses me. Patchy and imperfect it may be, but it does seem as though FCA have bet the farm on a thoroughly new engineering solution (even if the result, a contemporary rear drive four door saloon, may well be yesterday’s answer to that thorny question: how do you reinvent a revered nameplate?)

      The ‘luxury’ versions, with fussy wheels and wooden trim, seem to be as close to the modern idea of Lancia as anything – spacious, comfortable, and not especially ‘sporty’, but with proper emphasis placed on a pleasing drivetrain. I imagine it might make for a satisfying car to own – if circumstances change, I’ll buy one and run it as a DTW long termer!

    2. Jacomo. I can only speak for myself but, in a way, I don’t really know as much about Lancia as I think I do. As I mentioned above, when I was a kid, my Mum and I fell in love with a Lancia Flavia convertible, though in the end she never got it and, moreover, we never actually even drove it. Ditto my desire for an 8.32, which I never got round to driving. In fact, the only Lancia I ever drove was a Beta HPE which (and apologies to Stradale in advance) was horrible. I suspect it had been ill used in its life, so was by no means typical, but it had none of the Lancia virtues we speak of here.

      In fact I suspect that Lancia worship is as much an act of faith as of experience. Were I religious, I might have an preconception of what heaven was like. Likewise I have an idea of what the perfect Lancia should be – light, delicate controls, comfort, discreet, pleasing bits of detail engineering, good but not harsh performance, no extraneous trim (which includes wood and, probably, leather), etc, etc. So, really, an 8.32, though very desirable, wouldn’t be my idea of a ‘proper’ Lancia.

  12. Jacomo: the Lancia that made impeccably engineered cars is Lancia Mk1. Even Lexus abandoned that line of inquiry (and it only applied to the segment busting LS400 and a few follow ups). I suppose Tesla is pretty close to Lancia Mk1 even if the tech resides in boring old batteries. Lancia Mk2 is the mid-period cars where it descended into a form of badge engineering with the odd stand-out. The Delta Integrale and Stratos muddy the waters since they were about performance. Late period Lancia carried on with badge engineering (Phaedra, Musa) and a few oddities like the Ypsilon, Delta and Thesis. Then it descended into outright badge engineering and the plot was lost. Only Saturn has seen such a wholesale destruction of a brand by complete replacement of one car line with a set of badged-up vehicles.
    My investment would require three vehicles, placed between Alfas on price and size with distinct looks and effort spent on smooth, unobtrusive use (imagine a great dark blue suit as a car).
    (DTW has set aside €6 bn to buy three platforms from Opel to rebody and we are hiring a town in central Europe as a proving ground. We will hire two senior, recently retired designers from Ford and VAG to oversee the detail quality and some young graduates to do the creative part. We are also hiring a qualified medium to contact the departed souls of Peugeot suspension engineers. We expect launch date early in 2021. We might have to tell FCA about this.)

  13. Always fun to read posts on the 8.32. I regularly drive my 1990 second series blizzard blue 8.32 with tobacco alcantara. For daily trips I’m fortunate to enjoy a traffic free 25km drive to my office either on motorway or dual carriage way. The feeling is unique – every time.

    Think Buckingham palace seen through Italian lenses.

    Inside the atmosphere is voluptuous, calm, sophisticated… the 8.32 demands to be treated like royalty. It has the power, the discretion and, with it, a touch of eccentricity… But whenever you need firepower, know what to expect and prepare for battle. As the revs climb, the full roundness of the V8 escalates from the muscular sound of low revs stretches into an adrenaline generating mid rev range symphony, literally, to peak over 7000rpm in a trance, the sound is hypnotic, the unbelievable madness of the whole package defies all reason.

    Yet, the 8.32 always seemed to be ostracized by its peers. Never really integrated amongst purists of the Lancia community and even less so in the Ferrari community, it somehow also felt more vulnerable than its solid, sturdy, efficient German counterparts of the time. Which, you could say, confers to the 8.32 a heroic touch knowing that, after all, it seemed to be “alone against all”.

    I can only see in the 8.32 an amazing piece of machinery with an amazing story and generous like no other.

    What fun & pride in owning one.

    1. Superfast: Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. I hope we did the 8.32 justice. From your description it’s a car to experience rather than write about and it pleases me to know some get to do just that on a regular basis. Cars like this will always be misunderstood and underappreciated by the motoring mainstream. Their loss I’d say.

  14. Superfast: as you say, the Lancia 8.32 is somewhat unusual. Do see it as a Lancia or as an 8.32? If Lancia enthusiasts don’t greet it warmly (it’s a Lancia, for goodness’sake) then I can only roll my eyes at people’s tribalism.

    1. Ho ho… I suppose it was a thing of the past, there is a good following nowadays and the guys at the Lancia club are enthusiastic when they see the 8.32. Maybe just some purists still hanging on considering the Integrale as the last real Lancia. But isn’t that the joy of having a contreversial gem? It keeps everyone discussing passionately about it with well rooted opinions. Clearly adds character and stardom value to the car. What more could one ask for a collector ? 🙂 Off the cuff, had fun reading about the Cinquecento sporting. Having a Panda 100HP and great fun with it, I’m really curious to try a Sporting. now. Quite a few in Italy running around 2000€…

  15. Stradale: the increased availability of PF interiors is a parallel of the exclusive/volume dichotomy. The volumes for the Infiniti must be quite considerable. Let´s not leap to conclusions. Maybe the PF interior in the Infiniti is alright. I had no idea about this development.
    For the sake of argument, which brands are appropriate for PF? If you were in their development office, which marques would you be aiming to work with and which ones would be forbidden?
    Now I come to think of it there must be other fabric and leather firms ready to have their brand diluted by association with cars. Bridge of Weir? Liberty? Bladen? How about a Mini special edition with a Bladen “inspired” interior? Or maybe a Jaguar with Bridge of Weir detailing? Citroen would have to go for a wildly inappropriate tie-in, one where the gap was so large the other firm wouldn´t even notice and change in perceptions. Versace and D&G spring to mind. I had to Google Smythson which means that they are off the radar of the great unwashed. I could see Bentley having a link to them and perhaps wooing customers with the pretence of being in on some special secret much like the use of obscure hi-fi brands like Bond & Gieves or Hucknall-Forbes or Jones & Cossup. Troubadour makes those large squashy bags with long straps called “overnight bags”. If you are very posh you don´t want to be seen with a Samsonite overhead suitcase. The “overnight bag” which is merely a giant manbag is what Oxford and Cambridge type use so they don´t get mistaken for Austrian business travellers or computer consultants from Berkshire. Maybe the Troubabadour brand is worth defiling for the sake of a few Mercedes sales?

  16. Just to answer that specific question”Lancia or 8.32?” I certainly see it as – and call it – an 8.32, a brand in it’s own right!

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