All the High-Tech Pursuits of a Sport Car
The history of the Lancia Thema is quite fascinating. The first Lancia Thema was built by Italian car company Lancia in 1984 to year 1994. The car was actually one of four series which were part of the Type 4 series. All four had distinctively different styles and the production was limited to just twenty units at a time. Today, the company is one of the world’s leading makers of performance and sports cars.
This car used a small transaxle and had two seats. It featured a 1.2 liter V-12 engine mated to an automatic gearbox. A manual transmission was also available. The Lancia Thema’s interior had been specifically modified to promote a sense of well being. The seat covers were patterned in black leather and the headliner had been slightly tinted to match the exterior color of the sedan.
The styling on the Lancia Thema was quite modern as it featured horizontally crafted aluminium wheels with subtly pronounced fenders. The sides were rounded to fit better into the overall contours of the vehicle and the rear was straight with squared off windscreen wipers. At the front, two wide chrome-plated wheel archlights served to add a sense of height. To top off the rear, two deep roof vents helped to maximize air flow. The interior of the sedan also received some refinishing.
The engine was originally fitted with magnesium alloy wheels but this proved to be inadequate for high speed operation. A further upgrade to the engine by Laithwaite allowed it to use magnesium alloys which proved to be stiffer and stronger. An aluminum reinforced bonnet, complete with cow hide leather trimmings, replaced the standard bonnet and toughened to stop the engine from overheating. The result was a very powerful V8 engine capable of reaching top speed easily.
The suspension system of the Thema was revolutionary as it featured twin Wishbone front suspension units. These clever components were designed to work off the weight of the car tyres so that they were always under considerable tension. This ensured that the weight of the car remained constant throughout the suspension system’s life. The dual Wishbone front wheels were fitted with magnesium dual control rims, which provided extreme strength combined with superbly fine finishing.
The final upgrade to the car’s design came in the form of a new three-spoked exhaust system. The original Mondeo M model was fitted with a one-piece exhaust system but Thema owners wanted a more aerodynamic look so they opted for the three-spoked exhaust. The resulting V8 was introduced in the UK in the mid-1990s; instantly replacing the previously popular Mondeo. To make way for the new addition a new four-link rear suspension system was fitted with softer spring rates and thicker rear shocks. The resulting vehicle now sported a fitter’s badge.
The original Mondeo saloon was powered by an aluminium forging component fixed to the rear axle. However, due to poor economic conditions, Lancia introduced a new technology known as magnesium forging. This allowed the magnesium used on the car body to be lighter than the standard steel used elsewhere on the vehicle. By fitting forged parts such as the tail lamps and rear diffusers, the mass manufacture of the Mondeo could continue whilst spending less on making its transmission, rear end and chassis reliable. Another benefit of using magnesium on the car body was that it had better heat conductivity than steel, improving its performance and life span.
With the introduction of the KW Clubsport that same year, Lancia began production on their third version of the Mondeo and called it the Lancia Mondeo RS and the Mondeo Turbo. This was a more significant update than the previous two models, with revised suspensions and a higher compression ratio at the back of the engine to optimise fuel efficiency. The new V8 which powered the vehicle now featured a twin scroll turbo, replacing the previously conventional two scroll engines. The result was greater power, improved acceleration and a longer cruising distance, thanks to a newly designed lightweight kW exhaust.