In 1970, at the Turin Motorshow, Bertone showed a radical concept car called Stratos powered by a Fulvia HF 1600 engine, but mounted in the centre of the chassis driving the rear wheels. With the approval of Lancia, development began of a more practical sports car based on this design and one year later, again at the Turin Motorshow, the Lancia Stratos HF was shown. Retaining the same basic idea, but with many changes (such as the addition of doors !), the Stratos HF was now powered by a transverse 2.4-litre Ferrari Dino V6 engine. This prototype was actually later fitted with a Fiat 132 2 litre engine, but that project went no further. A second development prototype was also built. These early cars used double-wishbone suspension at the rear, but problems in development led to this becoming a modified MacPherson strut system.
With homologation requiring the production of 500 cars, Lancia began entering the Stratos in events which also allowed for prototype cars in 1972 (its first event was the Tour de Corse of that year, driven by Munari) and continued through 1973 (its first victory was in the Spanish rally of that year, again driven by Munari). That year also saw the appearance of the first 24 valve versions, producing around 270bhp compared to the 230bhp of the 8V cars. At the end of 1973 production of the actual 500 began, but although Bertone had built all 500 chassis by March 1974 homologation was first achieved in October of that year. That allowed enough time for the Stratos to take victory in, amongst others, the Sanremo and Tour de Corse. Together with the points gathered by the Fulvia, it was enough for Lancia to win the World Makes Championship. 1974 also saw the first Stratos turbo, with 350bhp, make some racing appearances.
1975 saw Lancia dominate and win the World Makes Championship, including victories on the Monte Carlo, Swedish, Tour de France, Tour de Corse and Sanremo. A semi-works Stratos turbo, prepared by Facetti, was also entered in the European GT Championship, but proved uncompetitive. The opportunity was used, however, for further development, and in 1976 as well as the Facetti cars, there appeared works Lancia Stratos turbo's in the new World Championship for Makes for Group 5 cars. these cars used a KKK turbo and Kugelfischer fuel injection to produce 480bhp with a 12V cylinder head and 0.8bar of boost. A longer rear body was designed by Bertone to improve the aerodynamics.
In rallying in 1976 Lancia again won the World Makes Championship (winning the Monte Carlo, Portugal, Tour de Corse and Sanremo), whilst Darniche won the European Rally Drivers Championship driving a Stratos, and Franz Wurz won the European Rallycross Championship also in a Stratos. A Stratos turbo also finished 20th at Le Mans in that year.
Although the works effort was toned down to avoid competing with the new Fiat 131s, in 1977 the winning continued. Darniche again won the European Rally Drivers Championship although the Le Mans entry that year retired. New regulations in 1978 resulted in only the 12V cylinder head being allowed, and numerous other changes. This dropped the power down to around 270bhp from the 300bhp which the 24V cars had been giving. Despite ths Carello won the European Rally Drivers Championship.
In 1979 the Stratos ceased to be an official works car, but the winning still went on, primarily by Darniche who even managed a historical win on the Monte Carlo that year.
Finally a brief comment on the number of cars actually made. The figures quoted range from about 450 up to 1000. There is no 'official' figure, but the generally accepted number is around 490.
for the road cars :
Engine 2418cc (92.5x60mm) 65º dohc V6 producing 190bhp @ 7400rpm with three Weber 40IDF carburettors Driveline transverse engine at centre/rear with rear wheel drive Suspension front : double wishbone with telescopic dampers and coil springs plus anti-roll bar
rear : lower wishbone with strut with telescopic dampers and coil springs plus anti-roll bar
wheelbase : 2180mm
front track : 1433mm
rear track : 1457mm
Brakes front : ventilated discs (diameter 10.7 inches)
rear : ventilated discs (diameter 10.9 inches)
handbrake operating on the rear wheels by cable
Gearbox 5 speed manual (ZF)
single dry plate clutch with hydraulic actuation
Steering Rack and pinion
3.2 turns lock-to-lock
Kerb weight 980kg
the Group 4 cars had the following differences :
Engine 2418cc 65º V6 producing 270bhp @ 7400rpm with three Weber 44IDF carburettors Suspension front track : 1490mm
rear track : 1570mm
Gearbox multiplate clutch Kerb weight 880kg
Click here for a sectioned drawing of a Stratos.
Lancia Stratos Books : buy them online here (in association with Amazon)
Lancia Road Test Book : Lancia Stratos 1972-85
Several articles on the car, its development, history, competition use etc.. and some reports on less well known variants.
Edited by R.M.Clarke, 1985
For more books Lancia's, see our Online Bookstore
Stratos comment form
Probably the worlds most beautiful sports car, I would love to see another ling of the stratos produced. I would pick this car over most Ferraris and Porsches because of the style of it.
When you say a "dream" car I think just at Lancia Stratos. It's my favourite rally car, as beutiful as fast. (Giuseppe C., Italy)
The most beautiful and desirable car ever made. A true dream car! (Danny D, Canada)
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Wallpapers/Desktop Backgrounds of numerous Lancia's, including the Stratos, are available to download.
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