In 1970, Bertone presented a design study of the Stratos. But the idea of a super sports car could not really be transported in the light of the used 4-cylinder engine of the Lancia Fulvia. The driver’s position directly on the front axle was unconvincing. In addition it was the unusual access from the top at the drop-down door in the front. So this first draft disappeared back in the drawer.
As the rally sport is gaining importance at the beginning of the 70s, Rally Team Manager Cesare Fiorio fights for the approval of constructing a new project: a road worthy vehicle that is specially constructed for the motorsports use. This future sports car is fitted with a Ferrari six-cylinder from the Dino 246. In the beginning the 2.4-liter unit with three carburettors produces 240 HP, in the following evolution stages 270 HP and 330 HP. The Lancia engineers developed a hand-built steel monocoque for the racer, attached to the subframe with engine and front suspension. This way, the weight of 960 kg was kept. Bertone designed a glass fibre-reinforced plastic body of the front and rear cover, which can be completely removed. The five-speed gearbox is changeable in just a few minutes, what can be decesive in rallying.
The Lancia Stratos HF excited the audience in 1971 at the Turin motor show. It is unconfirmed how many units actually were built and figures are based on an estimate of Bertone. But it is believed there are about 500 models of the road version Stradale. This version had to be built at least 400 times for receiving the homologation for the Stratos race cars by Lancia. At the beginning of the 70s, the FIA had reduced this obligation number from 500 to 400.
The V6 engine of the Ferrari 246 GT was mounted in the rear. This 2.4 l engine with a 12-valve cylinder head and a maximum output of 195 HP reaches the 100 km/h mark from standing in 6,8 seconds and a top speed of 248 km/h. As in the Ferrari 246GT versions, the engine is not fitted lengthwise, but crosswise over the rear axle. This way the mid-engined road athletes gains high stability.
With his 3.67 m length and a wheelbase of 2.16 m, the Stratos becomes a compact missile. Comfort and extras are missing in the interior . Who ever squeezes himself into the bucket seats witnesses sportiness.
Lancia became World Rally champion in 1974, 1975 and 1976 World Rally champion and won a total of 18 World Cup victories with the Stratos, one of the most successful rally cars of all time. The street version remained below expectations and so is told that the original purchase price of 49,500 mark in Germany was dropped at the end to 15,000 marks. Today, the Stratos is an extremely refined vintage collectible.