Munari behind the wheel of the Lancia Stratos during the 1973 Targa Florio. The previous year, Munari and Merzario drove a Ferrari to victory.
I have a Minichamps model of the legendary Lancia Stratos HF rally car in Alitalia’s green and white colors sitting on my desk and every time I look at it, Italy’s “Il Drago” or “the Dragon” comes to mind. That was world rally champion Sandro Munari’s nickname because, according to fan and foe alike, he breathed some well-targeted fire either verbally or from behind the wheel of a rally car.
Regardless, in my book, he is Mr. Lancia Stratos. After rally boss Cesare Fiorio saw Bertone’s fanciful, unlikely looking concept Stratos at the 1970 Turin Motor Show, he resolved to turn it into a rally mobile for his company. The Dragon had already won the European Rally Championship and was on the road to greatness so Fiorio, the legendary multi-world rally and endurance racing championship winner as boss of Lancia’s motor sport department, enrolled Sandro as the car’s exclusive tester. Il Drago became one of a small coterie of men, which included Fiorio and Nuccio Bertone, who created the car that won three Constructors World Rally Championships and no fewer than 18 rounds in the world title fight.
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