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Lancia Stratos - Legends of Rally Racing

Posted by Noel Alderman on

Lancia Stratos, Legend of Rally Racing

The Lancia Stratos HF(High Fidelity) was launched in 1971.

With a mid-mounted Dino Ferrari V6 producing 190 hp, it started a new era in rallying as it was the first car designed from scratch for this kind of competition.

Winner of the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976 in the hands of Sandro Munari and Björn Waldegård; the 1974 Targa Florio, five time winner of the Tour de France Automobile and three the time winner of Giro d'Italia

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 designing and producing the bodywork Lancia traditionally used the design house Pininfarina. Betrone knew that Lancia was looking for a replacement for the aging Fulvia for use in rally. Desiring to create an opportunity for a relationship with Lancia, Bertone designed an eye-catching model using the running gear of a Fulvia Coupé. After that Lancia and Bertone agreed to develop a new rally car based on the ideas of Bertone's designer Marcello Gandini.

Gandini had already received acclaim for his design of the Lamborghini Miura, and at the time was working on the legendary Countach.

The Lancia Stratos Zero preceded 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. 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 Stratos won the 1974, 1975 and 1976 championship titles, and might have gone on to win more had not internal politics within the Fiat group placed rallying responsibility on the Fiat 131 Abarths. 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. 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.

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