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History of the 1972-1975 Lancia Stratos
The Lancia Stratos HF (for “High Fidelity”) was first previewed as a concept in 1971, and then launched in 1973 as a homologation model for World Rally competition. As such, only the requisite 500 cars were built in 1973 and 1974, though some sources list the actual number of chassis released as 492.
The Stratos was a rakish-looking, wedge-shaped two-seater coupe, with a clear orientation towards rally racing. The front and rear bodywork were fiberglass, over a stamped steel monocoque cabin mated with front and rear space frames. Except for helmet-sized door pockets, storage space was nonexistent, even on the road-going Stradale models.
The rally-spec Stratos featured Ferrari’s marvelous Dino overhead cam V-6 engine, which in the Stratos displaced 2,418cc and delivered 190 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque in the road-going version, and up to 320 hp in the rally version. Two prototypes were built to FIA Group 5 specifications with a single turbocharger making up to 560 hp.
Regardless of power output, the engine was always mounted amidships, and drove a rear-wheel drive five-speed manual transaxle. It’s worth noting that several prototypes were built using the 1,584 cc pushrod engine from the Lancia Fulvia at 114 hp.
Other features on the Stratos included rack and pinion steering, four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension with double wishbones at all four corners with coil springs and standard shock absorbers in front and Chapman strut coil-over shocks in the rear, and an integral roll bar in the chassis design. Even the Stradale rorad-legal version of the car weighs in at a trim 2,161 lbs while the lightened Rally version weighs just 1,940 lbs.
The street-going Stratos Stradale received the same Ferrari engine, though slightly detuned. The 0-60 time was about 6.8 seconds, with a recorded top speed of 144 mph. The majority of Stratos production was delivered in Stradale form, and no fixed price was listed by the factory.
The Stratos was a huge success in rally racing, winning the championship in the 1974, 1975, and 1976 seasons. The car continued to be raced by privateers into the 1980s, however, and today is a favorite on the vintage rally circuit in Europe and around the world. The Lancia Stratos was the first truly purpose-built rally car, and paved the way for the glory days of Group B rallying in the 1980s and the world rally cars of today. Its short wheelbase, light weight and ample power made for a car that was incredibly nimble on the mountain roads of Europe as well as very quick in a straight line. Oh, and the sound of a race-tuned Dino V-6 at full chat is just glorious.
Collectors considering a Stratos should carefully research provenance, as many replicas have been built over the years. Examples that were actually rallied in the era should be carefully checked for frame damage and metal fatigue, bearing in mind the intense stresses placed on competing rally cars. The V-6 Dino engine should be examined closely as well, given the age and stresses placed on these cars. Given how rare and desirable these rally icons are, though, any example at all is worth looking at.
1974 Lancia Stratos HF Info
6-cyl. 2418cc/190hp 3x2bbl Weber
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