Lancia Thema 8.32
Ferrari never officially built a four-door sedan but Lancia did, introducing the Thema 8.32 in 1986. This was a top-of-the-line Lancia model featuring a transversally mounted Ferrari 3.0-liter V8 engine from the 308 GTB Quattrovalvole; hence, the name. It came with eight cylinders that had 32 valves.
It wasn’t the first time Lancia borrowed an engine from Ferrari. Some 10 years before the Thema 8.32, the Lancia Stratos received a 2.4-liter V6 from the Ferrari Dino. However, it was the first time a Ferrari engine powered a luxury sedan.
The Thema 8.32 produced 212 HP with a seven-second 0 to 60 mph time, which was fast for the day as well as for a front-wheel-drive sedan. To call the 8.32 a BMW M5 competitor would be a stretch, but the Thema Ferrari was a comfortable cruiser with lots of style. Also, Lancia offered a high level of standard equipment and a long list of luxury options. Discontinued in 1992, they sold just over 3,000 Thema 8.32s.
Chevrolet Cobalt SS
Although discontinued, the Chevrolet Cobalt SS is famous as one of the best affordable performance cars. Available as a supercharged, turbocharged or naturally-aspirated model, the best SS was the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Chevrolet presented in 2008.
The engine delivered 260 HP, which was astonishing at the time and more than any of its competitors. Also, the Cobalt SS had big tuning potential, so it was easy to get even more power from the engine. Although they based it on the regular Cobalt, the SS version was nothing like the boring economy car it originated from.
One of the most interesting compact and affordable cars is the legendary Honda CRX. Honda offered it from 1983 to 1991, basing it on the Civic, but with a lower, sportier body and only two seats. Since it was light, nimble and came with precise steering, the CRX was a true sports car, but with front-wheel drive and pumping up to 140 HP.
The biggest selling points of this model were the extremely light body, as the whole car weighed 1,800 pounds and a high revving four-cylinder engine. Honda never repeated the success of the CRX, so its lineup can use another car like this.
These are 25 of the most influential front-wheel-drive cars they ever made. Have you ever driven or owned any of these vehicles? Front-wheel-drive may not be a popular option today, but it made an impact on automotive design and production.