The Lancia Stratos was the first ever pure-breed Rally Car, a car designed from the ground up specifically to win Rallies. And it did. And to steal a line from Agent J of Men In Black, the Stratos “made it look good”, with it’s incredibly minute dimensions, wedge-shape, and one-of-a-kind wrap-around windscreen. Suffice to say, as a 70s kid, there were 3 legendary cars all of us had in our toy/model collection: the Countach, the Porsche Turbo, and the Stratos!
It was designed by Marcello Gandini, who at that time worked for Bertone and is the designer of such classics like the DeTomaso Pantera and a whole bunch of the Lamborghini family including the Miura, Countach, and Diablo. It ran the highly-loved Ferrari Dino 2.4L engine, a V6 of 190hp and mid-mounted. It was first presented to public in 1971, and the Group 4 minimum production run of 400 cars began in 1973. In the end, a total of 492 cars were produced, making the Stratos impossibly rare!
For Group 4 rally competition, the car had 280hp, and with a single KKK turbocharger they had a special 560hp Group 5 ‘silhouette’ circuit monster which looked more like an alien-spaceship with all the aerodynamic addendum!
The Stratos won the 1974, 1975 and 1976 championship titles in the hands of Sandro Munari and Björn Waldegård, and might have gone on to win more had not internal politics within the Fiat group placed rallying responsibility on the Fiat 131 Abarths. As well as victories on the 1975, 1976 and 1977 Monte Carlo Rally, all courtesy of Munari, the Stratos won the event with the private Chardonnet Team as late as 1979.
To quote team boss Cesare Fiorio: “With the Stratos we had made a tremendous car, frightening other manufacturers so that some dropped out.”
Two Group 5 turbocharged Stratos racers were also built for closed-track endurance racing. These cars failed against the Porsche 935s on the circuits, but proved successful in hybrid events open-road racing type events, where one of these cars won the 1976 Giro d’Italia Automobilistico.
Enough comment. Just watch the video, and revel in the wondrous sound of that V6 Ferrari engine, and the classic shots of the Stratos that you may never see anywhere else. The video is top-notch stuff, and seriously worth 7 minutes of your life.