The Lancia Stratos was the first car to be designed specifically for international rallies – in which it enjoyed extraordinary success – and because 400 examples had to be built, it allowed some lucky people to buy a competition machine for the road. It was a revolutionary design of timeless beauty which was among the first of the modern “supercars.” With a top speed (in production form) of 143 mph (o-60 mph in 6.8 seconds) allied to superb handling and brakes, there are still few cars which can match it in real motoring conditions: driving from A to B along twisting roads.
The Stratos first appeared in 1970 as a styling exercise by Bertone on Lancia Fulvia running gear and was taken up by Cesare Fiorio who then was Lancia’s competition manager. Before long a prototype was built using a Lancia engine, but the car’s potential was so great the a 2.4 liter Ferrari Dino unit was substituted and a legend was born.
When it was run by the works in international rallies, the Stratos became possibly the first car in history which was expected to win. It was that good, and it took the World Championships in 1975 and 1976. Fiat, the parent company, then changed its competition policy and decided to win rallies with a different car, but that did not stop the Stratos. As late as 1979 a privately entered Stratos won the Monte Carlo Rally which is one of the most remarkable feats in modern competition history.
The example pictures above was imported from Germany and purchased by the current owner in 1982. It has been used by him as a road car and in historic rallies and tours, the most recent of which (this summer) took it as far as Czechoslovakia and back without even the slightest hitch.
The car has covered just 28,000 km and has never been restored; the lime green paintwork and beige suede upholstery are both original. It was featured on BBC’s Top Gear program this August, it has been regularly maintained by Schledt & Pellet (who used to runa Stratos in Group 4 racing) and is in excellent condition throughout.
It is also taxed for the road and the lucky purchaser was able to drive this outstanding car soon after placing the winning bid.