Lancia Stratos #cars #rally

2012-10-26_1918

The Lancia Stratos is unquestionably the most extraordinary rally car ever produced. It is also one of the most successful, having won three times the World Rally Championship (1974-1975-1976 in the hands of Sandro Munari) and probably would have continued to so if allowed to do so. For reasons of internal politics within the Fiat Group, the Stratos was replaced by the Fiat 131 Abarth. Yet it was born by chance: the first prototype Stratos was a project designed by Marcello Gandini for Bertone and exhibited at Turin in 1970. It was essentially an exercise in extreme style and very impressive, with the overall height at just 95cm high! This strange wedge shaped prototype attracted the attention of Cesare Fiorio, the legendary boss of the competition department of Lancia, who needed to replace the carmaker’s aging and outdated Fulvia coupe. Gandini reinvented the design into a relatively more usable car, slightly taller, but still very radical compared to production cars of the period. The lack of overhangs, the long flat hood, the compact silhouette and the huge wraparound windshield all combined to a shape that like nothing else known till then! 
The car was exhibited at the Turin motor show of 1971 and it really impressed visitors. Lucky for Lancia, Ferrari had recently become a part of the Fiat Group too, so the mechanicals of the Stratos came from the Prancing Horse brand. The 2.4-litre V6 engine from the Dino became the natural choice as it was a well tested, compact and powerful unit, which already proven itself in the Dino 246 GT and the latest versions of the coupes and convertibles from Fiat, the Dino. The car still needed to be developed and for that another talented engineer – Gianpaolo Dallara – was involved. After a few pre-production cars in 1973, the Stratos was made in sufficient numbers in 1974 to allow homologation into Group 4. The total production was eventually about 495 cars. Of these, ten were used by Lancia to make official factory Group 4 cars, the others being sold as “stradales” or street cars, some of which were prepared by private rallyists for rallying, following the approved Group 4 regulations. Unlike many rally cars, the Stratos was not derived from a regular production car, but was a clean-sheet design specifically for competition purposes. Its radical design gave it diabolical handling, and combined with a very flexible and powerful engine, the Stratos remained a very competitive car for years after, intimidating all competition, what with its spaceship looks! 
Manufactured by Bertone on the 31st of October, 1974, and bearing chassis number 391, the Lancia Stratos on offer had as its first owner, Lancia Spa. Painted a Blue Azzuro, the car was prepared in a workshop to compete in the Italian rally championship keeping in mind the client configuration of Group 4. Thanks to the research of Thomas Popper we know that between 1978 and 1980, this particular participated at least ten rallies, in the hands of rallyist Domenico Busoni: Rally Alto Appenino Bolognese (1978 and 1979), Coppa Citta Prato, Rally Citta di Modena, Ascoli Piceno Rally, Rally Fagioni, Rally dell ‘Umbria Rally Salto lo Spino, Cronoscalta Caprino-Spiazzi and Rally Trento Bordone. We can see from the copy of the original papers then that the car was registered BO 732456. 
Then this Stratos was integrated into the collection of Luciano Giuliano who, through an important dealer from Monaco, sold the car to Frederic Puren in the mid-1990s. The car was yellow then and the new owner participated twice in the Tour Auto, in 1998 (where it had the number 203), and then in 1999, with the number 242. At that point it was registered 0848 HZD 75. In 2001 the car was sold to a German collector, who usually ran on historic Ford events, registered the car in the Alpes-Maritimes, and then later in Germany. He used the car only two times in events and kept it in his personal collection. 

This Lancia Stratos Group 4 customer car has a fascinating history and looks very exciting in its spectacular Alitalia livery, and has all the necessary preparation for competition for the interiors (roll-cage, bucket seats, harnesses, stripped interior, steering wheel and dashboard, special extinguisher, etc) and the mechanicals (engine, suspension, brakes). The car is equipped with dual tanks and will be delivered with four additional original rims. It is a rare opportunity to acquire one of the most brilliant rally cars ever produced, in its racing version, the most radical and the most effective of all. It is obviously eligible in many historic events in which the spectators are bound to greet the car with all the fervor for a real legend of the motorsport. 

I’ve been in love with it (or should I say “her”?) at an early age, right since I first started learning about cars.

Now it goes on auction with an estimated price of €350 000 – 400 000 in France next November.
More photos & details here, plus some other beautiful pieces and classics.

 

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