Lancia Stratos HF at the Lancia centenary celebrations in Turin in 2006
Lancia Stratos HF Prototype
The Lancia Stratos HF (Tipo 829), widely and more simply known as Lancia Stratos, is a car made by Italian car manufacturer Lancia. The HF stands for High Fidelity. It was a very successful rally car, winning the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976.
A Bertone-designed concept car called the Lancia Stratos Zero was shown to the public in 1970, but shares little but the name and mid-engined layout with the Stratos HF version. A new car called the New Stratos was announced in 2010 which was heavily influenced by the design of the original Stratos, but was based on a Ferrari chassis and engine.
Bertone had previously done no business with Lancia, who were traditionally linked with Pininfarina, and he wanted to come into conversation with them. Bertone knew that Lancia was looking for a replacement for the ageing Fulvia for use in rally sports and so he designed an eyecatcher to show to Lancia. Bertone used the running gear of the Fulvia Coupé of one of his personal friends and built a running showpiece around it. When Bertone himself appeared at the Lancia factory gates with the Stratos Zero he passed underneath the barrier and got great applause from the Lancia workers.
After that a cooperation between Lancia and Bertone was decided to develop a new rally car based on ideas of Bertone’s designer Marcello Gandini who already had designed the Lamborghini Miura and Countach.
Lancia presented the Bertone-designed Lancia Stratos HF prototype at the 1971 Turin Motor Show, a year after the announcement of the Stratos Zero concept car. The prototype Stratos HF (Chassis 1240) was fluorescent red in colour and featured a distinctive crescent-shaped-wrap-around windshield providing maximum forward visibility with almost no rear visibility. The prototype had three different engines in its early development life: the Lancia Fulvia engine, the Lancia Beta engine and finally for the 1971 public announcement, the mid-mounted Dino Ferrari V6 producing 192 PS (141 kW). The use of the Dino V6 was planned right from the beginning of the project, but Enzo Ferrari was reluctant to sign off the use of this engine in a car he saw as a competitor to his own Dino V6. After long and very Italian political antics and after the production of the Dino car had ended the Commendatore agreed on delivering the engines for the Stratos and all of a sudden 500 engines were dumped on Lancia’s door.
The Stratos was a very successful rally car during the 1970s and early 1980s. It started a new era in rallying as it was the first car designed from scratch for this kind of competition. The three leading men behind the entire rallying project were Lancia team manager Cesare Fiorio, British racer/engineer Mike Parkes and factory rally driver Sandro Munari with Bertone's Designer Marcello Gandini taking a very personal interest in designing and productionising the bodywork.
Lancia did extensive testing with the Stratos and raced the car in several racing events where Group 5 prototypes were allowed during the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Production of the 500 cars required for homologation in Group 4 commenced in 1973 and the Stratos was homologated for the 1974 World Rally Championship season. The Ferrari Dino V6 engine was phased out in 1974, but 500 engines among the last built were delivered to Lancia. Production ended in 1975 when it was thought that only 492 were made (for 1976 season, the Group 4 production requirement was reduced to 400 in 24 months). Manufacturer of the car was Bertone in Turin, with final assembly by Lancia at the Chivasso plant. Powered by the Dino 2.4 L V6 engine that was also fitted to the rallying versions, but in a lower state of tune, it resulted in a power output of 190 PS (140 kW), giving the road car a 0-60 mph time of just under five seconds, and a top speed of 144 mph (232 km/h). The car was sold as the Lancia Stratos Stradale.
Lancia Stratos Turbo Group 5
For racing, the engine was tuned up to 275 PS (202 kW) for the 12v version, 320 PS (235 kW) for the later 24v version and even to 560 PS (412 kW) with a single KKK turbocharger. However, turbocharged versions were only allowed to compete in Group 5 and were never as reliable as their naturally aspirated counterparts.
Without support from Fiat, and despite new regulations that restricted engine power, the car would remain a serious competitor and proved able to beat works cars in several occasions when entered by an experienced private team with a talented driver. The last victory of the Stratos was in 1981, at the Tour de Corse Automobile, another World Rally Championship event, with a victory by longtime Stratos privateer Bernard Darniche.
When the Fiat group favoured the Fiat 131 for rallying Lancia also built two Group 5 turbocharged 'silhouette' Stratos for closed-track endurance racing. These cars failed against the Porsche 935s on closed tracks but proved successful in hybrid events. While they failed in the Tour de France Automobile, one of these cars won the 1976 Giro d'Italia Automobilistico, an Italian counterpart of the Tour de France Automobile. Unfortunately one of the cars was destroyed in Zeltweg, when it caught fire due to overheating problems. The last surviving car would win the Giro d'Italia event again before it was shipped to Japan to compete in the Fuji Speedway based Formula Silhouette series, which was never raced. The car would then be sold and reside in the Matsuda Collection before then being sold to the renowned collector of Stratos', Christian Hrabalek, a car designer and the founder of Fenomenon Ltd, who has the largest Lancia Stratos Collection in the world, 11 unique Lancia Stratos cars, including the fluorescent red 1971 factory prototype and the 1977 Safari Rally car. His interest in the car led to the development of the Fenomenon Stratos in 2005. The Stratos also gained limited success in 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a car, driven by Christine Dacremont and Lella Lombardi, finishing 20th in 1976.
1983 Andy Bentza and his RX Lancia Stratos HF, the only 3.0 L Stratos
Another unique Group 5 car is the Lancia Stratos HF of Austrian Rallycross driver Andy Bentza. The car was first driven by his Memphis team mate Franz Wurz, father of Formula One pilot Alexander Wurz. In 1976 Wurz claimed the first ever European Rallycross title recognised by the FIA with the car, by then still featuring a 2.4 litre engine with 12 valve head. For the ERC series of 1977 Wurz was entrusted with an experimental 24 valve engine by Mike Parkes, equipped with a special crankshaft to bring the engine capacity up to just under 3000 cc. For 1978 Bentza took the Stratos over from Wurz, sold his own 2.4 L 12V Stratos to compatriot Reneé Vontsina, and won the GT Division title of the ERC. The one and only 3.0 litre Stratos was raced by Bentza till the end of 1983. After keeping the car for another 30 years the car has recently been sold to a new Austrian owner.
1970 Lancia Stratos Zero concept car
The Lancia Stratos 0 (or Zero) pre-empted the Lancia Stratos HF prototype by 12 months and was first shown to the public at the Turin Motor Show in 1970. The futuristic bodywork was designed by Marcello Gandini, head designer at Bertone, and featured a 1.6 L Lancia Fulvia V4 engine. The Lancia Stratos HF Zero stayed for a long time in Bertone's museum, and in 2011 was sold out during an auction in Italy for €761.600 It was recently on display in the exhibit "Sculpture in Motion: Masterpieces of Italian Design" at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
The body was wedge-shaped, finished in distinctive orange and was an unusually short (3.58 m (141 in)) length and only 84 cm (33 in) tall, and shared little with the production version. The Zero appeared in Michael Jackson's 1988 film, Moonwalker.
In 1978, Bertone created and designed a concept car based on the Stratos called the Sibilo, although it was never intended for production.
Fenomenon Stratos (2005)
At the Geneva Auto Show of 2005, a British design firm known as Fenomenon, who had rights to the name, exhibited a retromodern concept version of the Stratos, designed by Christian Hrabalec and following its exhibition at the Frankfurt show, developed by Prodrive. The concept was based around a mid-mounted 419 bhp (312 kW; 425 PS) V8.
New Stratos (2010)
Following the stalled Fenomenon project, one interested backer funded a one-off model. Commissioned by Michael Stoschek (a keen rally driver and chairman of Brose Group) and his son, Maximilian, the New Stratos was announced in 2010 based on the overall design and concept of the original seventies Stratos and was designed and developed by Pininfarina.
The car made use of a Ferrari F430 Scuderia as a donor car, using the chassis (shortened by 200 mm (7.9 in) resulting in a wheelbase of 2,400 mm (94.49 in)) and much of the mechanical elements including the 4.3 L V8 engine (4308 cm33), tuned up to 540 PS (397 kW; 533 hp) at 8200 rpm and torque of 519 N·m (383 lb·ft) at 3750 rpm.
The New Stratos weighs 1,247 kg (2,749 lb) and is claimed to accelerate to 100 km/h in 3.3 seconds and on to a top speed close to 200 mph (320 km/h). While shorter than its donor car, the New Stratos is a little larger than the original Stratos, with a length of 4,181 mm (164.6 in), 1,971 mm (77.6 in) wide and 1,240 mm (48.8 in) tall.
There were reports that given sufficient interest a small production run of up to 25 cars could be possible. However, Ferrari did not consent to this plan. The company even forbade its suppliers to support the project.
"The Producers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of Carrozzeria Bertone S.P.A. of Torino, Italy for the use of the beautiful STRATOS 0 used in this film.". From credits of DVD 'Moonwalker' published in 2005, Warner Brothers.
"''Car Design News'' 1 March 2005". Archive.cardesignnews.com. Retrieved 2011-02-22.