1989, Lancia THEMA V6 GIANNI AGNELLI

 

1989, Lancia THEMA V6 GIANNI AGNELLI

Location: Naples (Italy)

 

 

Mileage 165.000 km

Owners N.A.

Engine 2959 cc, 126kW

Transmission automatic, ZF-3 speed

Color Light Grey (GRIGIO METALIZZATO 683), upholstery in blue fabric ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA chenille

Price upon request

 

Details

This 1989, Lancia THEMA V6 equipped with ZF 3-speed automatic transmission, full optional, is a car belonging to a private collection located in Naples. It was a car used by “l’Avvocato” Gianni Agnelli, registered on 26 January 1989 by FIAT Se.P.In.
Equipped with 2 mobile phones on board: a Telettra 450mhz in the front armrest and a more modern Motorola 900mhz next to the tunnel console on the right.

Rescued!
This is the title I would give to this story… yes, because the car we’re talking about could have met a very ungrateful end, considering its incredible past… the seller told me, in no uncertain terms, that he had the idea of selling the car in pieces given the large quantity of options present – if I hadn’t bought it… so something told me that it was mandatory to save it and it had to be done even more because it had probably belonged to a person whose the definition of “famous” is not enough ..
The clues were a lot, the original Turin numbers plate from beginning 1989, a curious vehicle set-up with all the accessories available at that time in the Lancia Thema catalogue, the presence of 2 radiophones… then lots of precious feedbacks from a dear friend who is a great connoisseur of the cars belonged to him: Giovanni Agnelli, the Avvocato, the symbol of a worldwide automotive pillar, FIAT!
“Look, in his cars with metallic aluminum gray color he almost always required blue fabric interiors because he didn’t like leather upholstery (if necessary, he used to cover it with white linen covers), what is the interior like of this one?”
“Totò, the car is aluminum gray with blue fabric interior, Ermenegildo Zegna chenille upholstery, I’ll send you the pictures later; but it’s in a bad shape!”
“Check if it has an automatic transmission (the Avvocato, due to the injured left limb, drove only cars with automatic transmission)… ah, also check if the car has 2 antennas or at least 2 holes on the roof.. he traveled with 2 mobile phones on board: a Telettra 450mhz in the front armrest and a more modern Motorola 900mhz next to the tunnel console on the right”
“Totò yes, it has the ZF 3-speed automatic gearbox and 2 holes on the roof, the front one still fitting a small antenna and the rear one plugged! Actually, inside there’s the radiotelephone setup in the front armrest and the holes for the other phone predisposition next to the right-hand tunnel console!”
But the information was still too few. It was necessary to build the history of the car. Going back to the last owner in Tuscany (a mechanic working in Forte dei Marmi Dealership), I find out that this car had been sold to the mechanic by the Dealership owner, who had previously taken it in a batch of cars from Calabria; but there were no specific details from there. So I started again checking the car chronological extract (the list of the previous Owners that can be found in the Italian cars registry, ED) to find out the very first Owner and the following ones. The car was registered on 26 January 1989 by FIAT Se.P.In. (the acronym stands for “Servizi per l’Industria”, a company of the Fiat group; at that time all the Avvocato’s cars were registered to this company) at the price of 39,541,500 Lire and remained with this property until February 1994 when it was purchased by a private resident in Turin (we don’t mention him for privacy reasons..); well, should I try to contact him right away? Of course! Looking up in the telephone directory I found the possible phone number, I called and was able to speak with him, a pleasant almost-eighty-year-old ex-Fiat employee formerly working in the “Executive used car fleet management ” division. After a pleasant chat recalling those times, I introduce him the car: initially he hesitated recalling it (almost 30 years were in between…) but suddenly the image of the Thema V6 comes to his mind! “Ah, I remember it, that car was so beautiful that, when it arrived to be optioned for sale, I didn’t think twice about getting it for myself!”.
In a very direct way I ask if he remembers the car belonging to Avvocato Agnelli and he confirms that it had been among the cars in the fleet at his disposal; then, after being used for a few years, it had returned to the company to be resold. “Don’t worry, buy it with confidence because that car was in more than perfect condition…”: even if retired, this was an spontaneous marketing action of this friendly former Fiat Employee (!) but it was telling a lot about the care used when managing the cars belonging to certain corporate Personality – as well as President of the group!
At this point, with such testimony, it was sure that the car in question had belonged to the Avvocato!
Too bad that from the life-time in Turin the car had evidently experienced darker periods.. oh yes, because after another 11 years of stay in Turin, it was then sold in Calabria in 2005 where it had two owners, the first for 7 years and the second for 4 years before its arrival to the Forte dei Marmi dealership in 2016; later, a long standstill until the last owner, a mechanic and Fiat Ritmo enthusiast, informed on the social page of a Ritmo-enthusiasts group that he wanted to sell this car. A friend in Bologna, very passionate about engines, heard the news and, recalling my passion for the Thema, pointed the info out to me by sending some pictures of the car which had been in a state of abandonment for several years. From there I contacted the owner and began to understand its real conditions; but he reassured me:
“The car starts and runs, I changed the fuel pump to get it going again and it goes! The automatic gearbox works.. it has a few things to fix but overall it’s functional”
In the period of covid, moving and meeting in person from one place to another was difficult, so the owner sent me videos of the car driving with temporary dealership license plate… of course there was a lot of work to do with the car but it was running!
The bodywork was bad but not dramatically bad: front bumper damaged (perhaps hitting a cement sidewalk), both front fog lights destroyed, transparent coat totally blown on the roof, on front and rear bonnet as well as on a rear side panel but the sheet metal was in excellent condition.. without a single dent! Incredible…
The interior was in good condition but very very dirty and there was mold on the rear seats! Kilos of dust here and there, but no damage or anything out of tune to underline…
The wheels had steel rims with both Lancia Thema and Prisma wheel covers.. but still the original spare wheel with alloy rim sat in the trunk never used!
I take it! It is the end of summer; I go to Tuscany to bring it home but just before leaving from there a problem with the automatic transmission: the forward gear does not run, the reverse one does! I agree with the owner – honest and collaborative – a discount on the price, looking at the big money drain to fix the gearbox, and we proceed! Car on the trailer! I bring it directly at the automatic gearbox inspection center (a reference for southern Italy) where the Thema is pampered by the retired owner, recalling those years when the automatic transmission was rather a mysterious object due to its very limited diffusion… The verdict is: clutches totally gone! During this gearbox rebuild, obviously, a newly overhauled torque converter is installed, all parts are thoroughly washed and cleaned, new oil, etc… first big bill but necessary work!
Immediately after it we start fixing the mechanical parts of this Avvocato’s Thema to have it back on track and make it safe and reliable as in its golden age: the parking brake lever has completely free stroke, cables are broken and get replaced; a coolant pipe is rotten and leaking, hard job to find it – with no results – so we proceed by welding it; in the meantime I get a spare one from my dear friend Dino in Germany thus the problem is solved! We then proceed with the remaining works, new front and rear brake discs and pads with overhauled calipers, spark plugs, new air/oil filters, rubber belts, oil, engine exhaust pipe completely gone and replaced saving only the catalyst that is still functional. Rims are in terrible condition, its original 15″ diamond-cut alloy rims have been replaced by steel rims so a temporary solution, to move the car during the short trips, is to install a set of used 14″ alloy rims.
Here we are, before for the bodywork the car can finally be inspected, passing the MOT without problems!
The time at the bodywork shop is then very long, because of lot of problems by its owner in that period, so the work is proceeding with great slowness, but it gives me the opportunity to touch and see that the sheet metal panels of the bodywork are really in excellent condition and it’s a pity to have it repainted since most of the first paint is original and in good shape but it is a necessary job to be done because the clear top coat is completely gone in several spots.
When disassembling the body parts we get the confirmation that the car NEVER faced an accidents, still fitting the first factory parts never restored during the years.
We proceed with car preparation and the final color check for the external painting (we choose the keep the same original color) and there is no need for major calibrations of the tintometer to have a perfect match with the parts of panels that will be leaved untouched.
We then reassembly the car and everything slowly and magically returns to its place like a great puzzle!
Thanks to the great help of the “vintage telephone guru” Pier Franco, the front 900mhz mobile radio antenna is found (coming from a similar phone system installed during the ‘90s on the Lancia Thema of an Italian Parliament’s member!!) and finally both the mobile radio antennas find again their place on the car roof as when Giovanni Agnelli was at the steering wheel and on the phone!
Following step is in a specialized washing and car detailing shop for an intensive cleaning with soap and steam of seats, carpet, panels and a detailed care of the internal dash plastics, woods, etc. Windows and crystals are very dirty and need a specific deep treatment as well, done!
The shape of beauty gradually takes on an unexpected dimension, you look at this car with a feeling of admiration both for its Lancia “appeal” and imagining when at the time it was being driven by the Avvocato for his travels.
Small little touches are the last few episodes, in particular an important symbolic moment (with the help of a young helper): the assembly of the rear Lancia shield-emblem and the “V6” badge which gave so much prestige in those years among the Thema engines..- At that moment the mind goes to the first pictures received and to the front of the car that seemed to scream “help” trying to skip the end it was about to do. Now, looking at it, you can appreciate all its “domain of power” (as one of the advertisings said in the ‘90s..) and the impressive feeling given by this car!
Last step from at the tire shop to finally mount his set of 15″ overhauled rims with real diamond plating and 4 tires up to the situation… Streets are ready to welcome “the Avvocato’s Thema” again!
So a picture reminiscent of the time when Gianni held th steering wheel in his hands and showed himself to the world in a classy combination, him and the Thema V6, is a must!
Special thanks to: Denis for pointing the car to me, Massimiliano for selling it to me and Antonio for the invaluable advices about reconstructing the history of the car.

 

Maintenance

Full serviced, timing belt included, vehicle ready for driving
 

Minus

None.
 

Documentation

Complete service history records by the current owner
 


 

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