The Lancia Stratos

The Original

For those of you that are not familiar with the car on which this is based, the Lancia Stratos was designed by Bertone in the early seventies. The first vehicle to bear this name was a show special and was not ever likely to go into production. Around this time, Lancia decided that they would like a car to be designed and built specifically for rallying. The show-car Stratos was then developed to be the first homologation special and was powered by the 2.4 litre V6 engine from a Ferrari Dino.

It was made with a monocoque central section to which were mounted substantial front and rear sub-frames, plus fibreglass doors and tip-up front and rear body sections. The suspension design consisted of wishbones at the front and Chapman struts at the rear, these being located by reversed wishbones and a long trailing arm. The wedge-shaped body style still looks modern today, so you can imagine how unusual it appeared in the mid Seventies!

This car went on to win many World Championship events and titles, until company politics within the Fiat group decided that it would be preferred to have a rally car that at least looked like something in their range of road cars. So, after years of success the Stratos was withdrawn from the factory rally team to be replaced by a Fiat 131 derivative. This didn't stop the car winning further top events for a number of years in private hands.

Contemporary reports and road tests of the Stratos were full of praise for this charasmatic device, but without fail they all mentioned that it was not an easy car to drive fast. It was designed with competition use in mind and roadgoing cars never let you forget it. The mid-mounted engine made for good traction and the short wheelbase led to an extreme willingness to change direction. For motorsport, this was a good thing. For use on the road it meant for handling best described as nervous.

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