Saving Lancia – one Thesis at a time…
Attraction is a difficult feeling to describe or give substance to, one man’s glass of Chateau Neuf de Pape is another’s Suzuki X-90. And while I’ve never been allowed into DTW Towers (for reasons that cannot legally be divulged), there is widely believed to exist amid its expansive halls an unbridled acceptance of most things wearing a particular shield badge.
It was through a search for Lancia that these eyes did land upon Driven To Write, a smattering of time ago. Realising the sheer depth upon all matters motoring but leaning heavily towards the FCA (now enigmatic Stellantis) subsumed manufacturer, I dived in – eyes wide – head first. No arm bands, either.
Lancia have had poems of love written about them. Journalists were once known to swoon in admiration. Contrastingly, public comments are often bitter and twisted. Regardless, the mere mention of Vincenzo’s automobiles, even the modern varieties, are often the key to unlock the floodgates marked wax lyrical.
The Lancia Thesis (pronounce the word Tay-sis) has been subjected to several airings on DTW’s digitized pages. Amen to that. Pictures in glorious settings with the car in question most definitely in the spotlight, if not perhaps centre stage. Which, for me is part of the appeal, the attraction towards the obscure. Thus, today’s peering through the murky window of, let’s be honest, challenging looks are not to follow previous tyre tracks. This tale is of a Thesis renovation.
The Devil makes work for idle You Tube searchers – too easy to become ensnared – the Thesis in question below was bought for £300. A paltry amount for such a car, even one with a tale of woe such as this farm truck. Never officially sold in the UK, the steering wheel sits naturally to the left. The registration plates, along with previous owner are Polish.
The colour is maroon; one expects a keen-eyed reader to inform us as to the correct shade. The beige suede seats, along with the whole interior are shamefully filthy. As is the way, the proprietor states, “it ran when it was parked under a tree, a couple of years ago, I think.” Other details are sketchy, the car’s power being made by diesel. Trim level has not been ascertained. Service history – lamentable.
How does a Typ 841 end up like this? Economic crises for the last owner? Lack of available parts? Little interest in looking after things, interior notwithstanding? Just another hunk of metal? Which is of course exactly what this is, but this metal (and real wood) was formed into a Lancia. By definition then, a period controversial car having suffered a dereliction of duty, which adds gravitas.
Were this a German alternative, those with a Bavarian bent or shining a star towards Stuttgart, no doubt a club member would be willing to invest huge amounts of hard-earned into its rebirth. Were it a Jaguar, coo’s of delight would be heard just before being stripped for parts, the rusting hulk then abandoned to a yard corner.
Being Italian, like Pinocchio, this Thesis deserves, nay demands, life. Luckily, Chops Garage (hardly reassuring business nomenclature but our man Chops would appear to run Alfa Regazzi, independent dealers) might just be the south coast based Geppetto.
Built as the Italian executive express to tackle almost everything from convention to aesthetics and most things in between, this particular example needs not only lavish amounts of TLC but someone bearing a shield-shaped heart in order for the car to live again.
But this car simply is not another mode of transportation, a four wheeled flip that certain styles of the garage business (Chops included) deal in. Thesis is a calling. Lead designer Michael Robinson was quoted at the car’s birth saying, “People will be looking for excuses not to buy this car. So, we wanted to be damn sure we didn’t give them anything to hook onto.” All of which explains what exactly?
Untold investment levels, cutting edge technology, just 16,000 made in an eight year production period, with it appears, precious few still in working order. Is the car a damning indictment of the state of Lancia at that time? That answer is of course in the affirmative. And remains sadly so. And how we, the aficionados of the products brought forth from the Rivalta and Mirafiori plants weep in despair. (Almost) never mind the car, we deserve better.
But am I the man to rescue this basket case? As one who knows how to wield a spanner but prefers his knuckles with skin still attached, I would fully expect that the changing of a clutch to be a beastly affair. Long hours of difficult toil – not for me, thankfully.
The interior on the other hand would find me a happier bunny. With the correct materials and enough elbow grease to plagiarise Nero, even a Neanderthal such as I could have those grubby carpets looking like new. As for the seats, a trip to the parts specialists, perhaps. Mechanically with such a car, niggling problems will surface by the minute; fuses, connectors, specific bolts and grommets will all require finding, payment, then fitting. All far too trying for my patience.
One could spend a lifetime extrapolating Venn diagrams explaining the connections between heart, head and Lancias in general; incalculable hours attributing equations relating ones personal involvement and the cold, hard, uneconomical truths.
Or be a modern day hero, saying to blazes with convention and having the guts to owning, running and having the confidence to utter, without irony or arrogance, “I drive a Lancia Thesis.” Brave pills are not on prescription.
Since writing this in the summer of 2020, the car remains with Chops Garage due to registration problems and a lack of cold hard cash. Could YOU be the one to jump headfirst into such an enigma?
YouTube link to the five videos