It’s Thanksgiving week! Have we fully decided what days we’ll be taking off? Not really. Are we thankful for all of you, our delightful, silky readers? Hell yeah we are. I think I speak for everyone here at the Autopian when I say our hearts light up just like the dashboard of this ’80s-era Lancia Thema. Every. Fucking. Light.
I’ve seen similar car-brochure dashboard shots like this before, and I’m kind of conflicted about them. On one hand, I kind of like seeing what every damn light on that dashboard is for, but on the other hand I really have to wonder the value of showing you what you’ll see in the unlikely event that your car is struck by lightning. Or maybe if it’s trapped in the tractor beam of an alien spacecraft? Or, maybe more likely, after those Lancia electronics get a little wet or something.
Still, it’s a dazzling sight.
I’d just be happy if high-beam indicators were large and bright, so they can’t be missed when they’re on. And automatic headlights on all cars, and that they come on when wipers are used. But I digress.
Can you really call it an “Automatic Climate System” when it’s got more than a dozen buttons?
Little known fact*: they took the photo like this because Lancia mechanics couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the car and the promo budget didn’t allow for more time from the photographer.
(*) not a fact.
Green light on far right of upper row below tach: “OK to push car on or off flatbed truck for return visit to mechanic.”
Doug DeMuro happily demonstrates how to light all the warning lights on a Maserati Biturbo:
Specifically at 14:03: https://youtu.be/EqvlKrSpZ_U?list=TLPQMjExMTIwMjJe-EZeOqYmwQ&t=843
“Every light on the dash is on
Dashboard’s bright as the crack of dawn
The front walk looks like a Spielberg flick
Kinda like noon for this hick.
Every light on the dash is on”
Inquiring minds want to know about the trip odometer being at 111.1 km while the main odometer is at zero kms. Maybe it’s the automotive equivalent of ads showing watches & clocks at 10:10?
Okay seen this mentioned alot. Recently installed and the trip meter was not reset. Really 111 and noone figures this out?
Maybe it’s binary and the odometer has already rolled over.
When I was a first-time new car buyer, this is what I was looking for. Information. Loads of it, in any form.
Having all the idiot lights shown in the sales brochure seemed like a big plus! How would I know there was a low oil pressure light if you didn’t light it up in the photo for the brochure?
Of course, this was back in the day when things like steering wheels and rear view mirrors were listed as “standard features”.
That’s going to require a whole roll of electrical tape.
If all those lights started blinking sequentially, I would have an uncontrollable urge to yell “No Whammies!” and press the horn.
I think there are cars with a test button to light up all the warning lights at once so you can see if any of them are burned out. Maybe that’s what we are seeing?
I bet you’re right. Fords have that feature (mine do, anyway) that allow a check of everything at once…all the lights (so you can see the features you don’t have/were too cheap to purchase), needles sweep the entire area of the gauge, etc. It’s fun to watch.
I think you are right: that test button is just to the right of the wheel in this photo.
Gotta wonder what the one black one next to the high beam light indicator is though. Black with a point only
That’s the other dimension, it’s trying to suck all the other lights in.
Activates whenever you cross the event horizon.
Maybe they show them all lit to BUILD confidence? See? If the lights didn’t work you’d REALLY have a problem, but since they all light up you can avoid complete failure and replace it with consistent failure.
My Renault 5 had lots o’ warning lights on the dash. Brake heavily enough — which I later learned sloshed the oil to the front of the pan and caused a pressure drop — and they would ALL light up. This, I was told, was “normal,” though it made diagnosing any kind of issue rather difficult.
My Citroen DS also had many, many warning lights. In the middle, a giant red one marked “STOP.” The problem with that one was that it usually indicated a hydraulic system problem. Which, in turn, meant you could not restart after stopping, as the hydraulics operated steering, suspension, brakes and gearshift….
I once drove my Citroën XM 5 km to a garage with no hydraulics at all. Suspension down on the bump stops, VERY heavy steering and the handbrake worked. Haven’t tried in my DS. Yet 😉
A red and a green Check light, how fancy!
It had different degrees of warning. Green for 33% of “should I be worried?”, both for 66%, and when the red light alone went on it meant you started the car with the wheels turned, destroying the timing belt and turning the engine into a lump of twisted metal in the process.
Odometer on 000000, but somehow the trip meter on 111?
I have 2 experiences of Italian cars, my brother’s Alfa 146 that started second time, every time (which is, I suppose, a kind of reliable) and a friend’s F360 that would blow the electric seat fuse if you moved the seat back, and that fuse was behind that seat right where you couldn’t get to it if the seat fuse had blown.
Why have all the warning lights come on before you start when you’re likely to see them all during your drive?
Maybe moved them all by one to test if they move? Can’t poke around odometer the same way.
You didnt mention the year of your brothers Alpha. But if it had an electronic fuel pump and you didnt wait long enough for it to pull gas yes it wont start the first time unless just recently turned ofg
It was a 1996 1.7 flat-four Alfa 146. We tried everything to get it to fire on the first turn of the key, and it never did. But it always started second time, at least until the headgaskets went.
Oh man, just had flashbacks of the 145 I owned for six months (the first three months were great, the last three were insane). Fun car to drive, but my god, how can everything mechanical and electrical fail all the time, some things more than once in the span of a couple of months? probably one of the worst engineered cars ever. Mine was a relatively low-mileage hand-me-down from people in my wife’s family who did all maintenance meticulously and fixed everything that broke at the dealership.
I bought a 147 GTA new the year after it came out. It was my first and last italian car. The entire experience had an italian charm to it that I was not ready for.
– Came to pick up my first brand new car after waiting four months for it. Arrive in a deserted showroom, to find my car sitting there doors open, mats outside, surrounded by tools. Apparently the techs who were in charge of prepping the car for delivery went to lunch or something. The sales manager who sold me the car come to get me, told me not to worry and offered me a coffee. After 30 minutes the car was ready…except it wasn’t, they had not installed the rear license plate holder. The sales manager promptly produced a rusty drill and unceremoniously made two holes in the back of my brand new shiny car. Voilà !
– The lady working the phone at the Alfa Romeo dealer was a 50+ attractive italian who simply would not bother sometimes, so you’d ring them but no one would pick up the phone. Showed up one time and she had forgotten to reserve a courtesy car for me while my car was due for service. Tough Sh*t she told me…After doing the service, they forgot the two screws holding the plastic plate underneath the engine which was dangling backwards. I ripped it off while backing into my garage on the latch on the floor that the door garage connects to. Nothing major so far, just a bit of italian joie de vivre.
– At 15’000 km the window motor failed while I was driving home. The window was stuck half open…at 3h00 on a saturday morning…in a snowstorm. Attached a garbage bag over the window and went in for the night. On the next day, I called Alfa assistance, where the lovely lady explained that an electric window was a comfort item and I was not eligible for road assistance. She told me I could go to a dealer nearby that was open on a saturday morning. Arrived there, the principal told me he needed the courtesy car for the week-end, but that he could rent me an old 155 for 200 francs while he fixed my car. Came on monday night to find that they had replaced the window motor, but damaged the door trim in the process when they used their screwdrivers to pry it off. Put the car for sale that very night.
I miss the sound of that 3.2, especially with the CSC exhaust I had installed, but I could never put it with this sort of crap again.
Indeed. I do feel silky.
That’s just the Goop hand cleaner. Now get back to work.
Yeah but, idiot lights AND gauges? They’ve officially entered the big boys club my friends!
The display to the left of the vents explains this image. The car is shooting flames front and rear. All occupants have fled.
I remember some of my Citroëns having a test all warning light bulbs button. Maybe Lancia had that too and they hotwired it for the photo?
In true Lancia style the one on the bottom right is not working..
Or was it on on the REALLY expensive models they also had some warning light there? 😉
That steering wheel in Nursing Home Grey looks rather yucky for a Lancia. Or is the photo light reflecting in the lemon smelling vinyl shine they just put on it?
Bottom left looks like an empty slot for some kind of optional equipment (which raises more questions than it answers, really; why not take a photo of the full-extras dashboard?).
In the case of a 1980’s Lancia, having every single light on the dashboard on (and often blinking) is merely an accurate representation of the ownership experience.
I think the numerous electrical faults would prevent all the lights from actually turning on as needed
Oh, no worries there, the lights started going on long before the electrical gremlins appeared. Only the fourth owner had to deal with that (or whoever got stuck with the car after four years).
My, what a busy dash you have!
The 2nd symbol from the left of the top row of red ones on left looks like a turbo: does this light when you spike to maximum boost? Rather disappointed there’s no actual boost gauge given there’s one for oil temp.
And, both a key and door symbol in the row above the HVAC controls: presumably central locking and central window override? So many questions for an idle morning…
That max boost indicator is the Italian translation for the flashing “Danger to Manifold” indicator.
The Saab-sourced HVAC control (the infamous Autocratic Climate Control unit) must be one of the three or four things in common with its Saab 9000 platform-mate.
Didn’t Subaru have something similar in the 80s with their dashboard shots as well?
But being this is a Lancia, it wouldn’t surprise me if this dashboard shot was an actual occurrence and all the lights lit up as soon as you left the dealer.