International Chairman for Motoring
A limited-production 'homologation special', the Lancia Stratos is historically significant as the first car from a major manufacturer conceived specifically for rallying. The spearhead of Lancia's international rally campaign in the 1970s, the Stratos had its origins in a Fulvia-powered, mid-engined design exercise first exhibited on Carrozzeria Bertone's stand at the 1970 Turin Motor Show. Also the work of Bertone, the production Stratos of 1972 retained the striking 'wedge' styling of its forbear, but employed the powerful Ferrari Dino 2.4-litre V6 engine. The latter was housed in a robust steel monocoque body tub clad in glassfibre coachwork.
As befitted a car purpose built to cope with all types of rallying, the Stratos came with fully adjustable, all-independent suspension by double wishbones and coil springs, plus four-wheel disc brakes all round. With 190bhp on tap, the production road-going (stradale) version was good for 225km/h (140mph). The works Group 4 rally cars were, of course, considerably more powerful, but reliability problems meant that success was slow to come. After its initial major victory in the 1974 Targa Florio, the Stratos went on to dominate international rallying, Lancia winning the World Rally Championship of Makes in 1975 and 1976. Works pilote Bernard Darniche triumphed twice in the world's premier drivers' competition - the European Rally Championship - in 1976 and 1977, and the Stratos helped Markku Alen to the inaugural World Drivers' Championship in 1978. Alen's season had been split between the Stratos and the FIAT 131, and it was the parent company's political decision to favour that latter, rather than any lack of competitiveness, which saw the incomparable Stratos phased out.
Incredible as it may seem today, after the 400 cars required for homologation had been completed in 1975, the vast majority remained unsold due to lack of demand. Almost as soon as it ceased active competition though, the car's historic significance was recognised and prices soared.
Not first registered until 1st January 1977, this stradale Stratos has to be one of the most original in existence, having covered a mere 24,149 kilometres from new. The car remained in Italy until 2005, between 1982 and that date forming part of its second owner's private museum collection, hence the relatively low distance travelled. In 2005 the Stratos arrived in France and was sold to the immediately preceding owner – a four times Porsche competitor in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, gentleman driver and journalist on a French rallying newspaper. While in his care the Stratos benefited from re-commissioning by Carrosserie Le Milano in Marseille, recognised specialists in the care and restoration of these Italian rally-cars. The engine has been converted to unleaded compatibility. A set of bucket type racing seats and Campagnolo alloy wheels come alongside the car together with related invoices totalling in excess of €17,500.
The current vendor purchased the Stratos in December 2007, since when it has covered only a low mileage. An outstandingly original example of a supremely successful competition model from one of the most distinguished marques in automotive history, the car is offered with an old Italian libretto; factory build details; FFSA and FIA papers; Rapport d'Expertise (condition report); Spanish registration papers; and Spanish ITV (technical inspection).
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