Lancia Stratos Stradale still an icon…

Lancia Stratos Stradale

Lancia Stratos Stradale

There’s always a bit of shenanigans when it comes to homologating cars for racing.  Sanctioning bodies say you must build 500, but I’m sitting in number 91 of the 492 Lancia Stratos actually constructed.  But who’s counting?  Certainly not me.  I’m busy pulling tightly on the simple seat belt, and going through a pre-drive orientation with Tod Ruoti at Continental AutoSports.

Like so many, I’ve always loved the Lancia Stratos shape; a wedge, an arrow. It’s riveting in electric blue, purposeful, the stuff you can’t take your eyes off of. In a shop loaded with vintage Alfas, vintage Astons and lots of Ferraris, nothing else here has this attention-grabbing ability of the Lancia Stratos.

At only 44 inches high and an 86 inch wheelbase (a current Fiat 500 has a wheelbase of 90.6 inches) to say it’s small is an understatement, and frankly, not everyone is going to find entry easy.

Inside, the Stratos is all business down to the door mounted helmet holders, and a windshield that wraps around the car like a helmet visor, giving a totally unobstructed view from side to side.  The side window mechanism is a knob that twists to loosen.  A light, simple solution, slide the window up or down and twist to lock in place. There is no pretense about the purpose of this car. The Lancia Stratos was built to race.

Lancia Stratos Interior

Lancia Stratos Interior

Lancia Stratos Stradale HF

Lancia Stratos Stradale HF

A key twists the 2.4Liter Dino motor to life and the noise is all Ferrari, but that took some doing.

It was no secret Lancia needed a new engine for the Stratos.  Enzo Ferrari wasn’t interested in putting his Dino motors into a Lancia, but after Dino production ended, Enzo was more than happy to  get rid of all those Dino engines with nowhere to go, and Lancia took all 500.

With the Dino motor, the car was an instant success, winning the manufacturer’s Group 4 rally car championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976.  Nothing could touch it until four wheel drive became the thing.

2.4L Ferrari Dino Motor

2.4L Ferrari Dino Motor

Detuned from the racing version’s 280HP, the 190 HP street version I’m driving only weights a little over a ton and is capable of 5.0 seconds to 60 MPH and a top speed of 145 MPH.

Trundling around a busy suburb just isn’t the place to get crazy with this car, but here and there would be an empty street or a series of corners that would provide me the slightest taste of what the Stratos was capable of.  I’m in awe of professional drivers in the 70’s, feet dancing over the pedals, throwing the rear wheel drive 280HP car from side to side.

Bertone bodied Lancia Stratos

Bertone bodied Lancia Stratos

1st is at the bottom, 2nd at the top.The shifter is tricky, but once you’ve been through the gears a couple of times, it becomes easy.

Produced between 1973-1978, Lancia built just 50 competition cars along side this, the Stradale (street) version.  Steel frames, fiberglass bodies, lots of these were lost to the brutality of racing and rallying, and it’s hard to quantify just how many are left.

Thanks as always to Continental Autosports in Chicago for always getting me behind the wheel of spectacular rides like this Lancia Stratos.

 

Dave

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About the Author: Dave Miller

Dave Miller With Lotus GT
Dave Miller drives the fastest, coolest, sexiest cars on the planet. He travels the world uncovering the hidden gems in luxury transportation, meeting the owners, and connecting with extraordinary car enthusiasts. Dave is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and writes for various publications. In addition to DriveWithDave.com, you can follow Dave's adventures via Drive With Dave Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tune into the Drive with Dave Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

2 Comments

  1. […] comes to life with a roar. Our friends at DriveWithDave spent an afternoon driving the iconic Lancia Stratos Stradale. Go behind the wheel of the car that won the Group 4 rally car championship, and in its day, was […]

  2. […] know Lancia mostly for their the famous Stratos rally car with its cult-like following.  Few know that Lancia built a Formula 1 car later bought by […]

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