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Car Profile: Lancia Stratos

If you’ve never seen a Lancia Stratos in person, you owe it to yourself to seek one out. The Stratos is one of those cars that must be experienced in person to fully understand its design audacity, stance, and visceral presence. Initially conceived as a concept car of dramatic proportions, Marcello Gandini penned the Stratos Zero as a concept to lure Lancia away from Pininfarina to the services of Bertone.

 1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero.
1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero. Tom Wood 2011 Courtesy of RM Auctions

The Stratos Zero, itself worthy of its own article, was the ultimate expression of the folded paper era. Impossibly low with a driver’s seat that elevated upward upon opening the rearward hinged single door entry, the Lancia Stratos borrowed visual cues from the Zero but ultimately would become its own signature design statement dominating rally racing with a world championship title not once, nor twice, but three times. Although Lancia engines were initially considered,the Stratos was eventually outfitted with the Ferrari Dino V6 engine, managed finally through a challenging relationship with Enzo Ferrari. The Stratos’ mid-engine configuration borrowed heavily from Gandinis earlier Miura using front and rear clamshell access and hockey stick doors. But any similarities to the elegant and sinewy Miuraend abruptly when examining the final Stratos design.

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