The Lancia Stratos HF, widely and more simply known as
Lancia Stratos, is a car made by Italian car manufacturer
Lancia. The HF stands for High Fidelity.
Lancia Stratos being put through it's paces
The Stratos was a very successful rally car during
the 1970s and early 1980s. It started a new era in
rallying as it was the first car designed from scratch
for this kind of competition.
The three leading men behind the entire rallying project
were Lancia team manager Cesare Fiorio, British
racer/engineer Mike Parkes and factory rally driver
The bodywork was designed by Marcello Gandini, head designer
at Bertone, and the technical layout was loosely based on a (Lancia
Fulvia V4 powered) concept car called Stratos Zero which
had been first shown at the Turin Motor Show in 1970. The body
was wedge-shaped, and unusually short and wide, providing
maximum traction. The car later appeared in Michael Jackson's
1988 film, Moonwalker as well as in his music video for
In 1971 Lancia presented the Lancia Stratos HF prototype. The
prototype (Chassis 1240) was fluorescent red in colour and
featured a distinctive crescent-shaped-wrap-around windshield
providing maximum forward visibility with almost no rear
visibility. The prototype had three different engines in its
early development life: the Lancia Fulvia engine, the Lancia
Beta engine and finally the mid-mounted 190 bhp (140 kW) 2418 cc
Dino Ferrari V6. The V6 gave the road car a 0-60 time of
just under five seconds, and a top speed of 144 mph (233 km/h).
Lancia did extensive testing with the Stratos and raced the
car in several racing events where Group 5 prototypes were
allowed during the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Production of the 400
cars required for homologation in Group 4 were launched in 1973
and the Stratos was homologated for the 1974 World Rally
The Dino V6 was phased out in 1974, but 500 engines among the
last built were delivered to Lancia.
For racing, the engine was tuned up to 280 hp (209 kW) and
even to 560 hp (418 kW) with a single KKK turbocharger. However,
turbocharged versions were only allowed to compete in Group 5
and were never as reliable as their naturally aspirated
The car won the 1974, 1975 and 1976 championship titles in
the hands of Sandro Munari and Björn Waldegård, and might have
gone on to win more had not internal politics within the Fiat
group placed rallying responsibility on the Fiat 131 Abarths. As
well as victories on the 1975, 1976 and 1977 Monte Carlo Rally,
all courtesy of Munari, the Stratos won the event with the
private Chardonnet Team as late as 1979.
Without support from Fiat, and despite new regulations that
restricted engine power, the car would remain a serious
competitor and proved able to beat works cars in several
occasions when entered by an experienced private team with a
talented driver. The final chapter of the Stratos' racing career
at international level took place as late as 1981, at the Tour
de Corse Automobile, another World Rally Championship event,
with a victory by longtime Stratos privateer Bernard Darniche.
When the Fiat group favored the Fiat 131 for rallying Lancia
also built two Group 5 turbocharged 'silhouette' Stratos for
closed-track endurance racing. These cars failed against the
Porsche 935s on closed tracks but proved successful in hybrid
events. While they failed in the Tour de France Automobile, one
of these cars won the 1976 Giro d'Italia Automobilistico, an
Italian counterpart of the Tour de France Automobile.
Unfortunately one of the cars was destroyed in Zeltweg, when it
caught fire due to overheating problems.
The last surviving car would win the Giro d'Italia event again
before it was shipped to Japan to compete in the Fuji Speedway
based Formula Silhouette series, which was never raced. The car
would then be sold and reside in the Matsuda Collection before
then being sold to the renowned collector of Stratos', Christian
Hrabalek, a car designer and the founder of Fenomenon Ltd.
Automobile design consultant Chris Hrabalek has the largest
Lancia Stratos Collection in the world - he owns 11 unique
Lancia Stratos cars, including the fluorescent red 1971 factory
prototype and the 1977 Safari Rally car.
Another unique Group 5 car is the Lancia Stratos HF of
Austrian Rallycross driver Andy Bentza. The car was first driven
by his Memphis team mate Franz Wurz, father of Formula One pilot
Alexander Wurz. In 1976 Wurz claimed the first ever European
Rallycross title recognised by the FIA with the car, by then
still equipped with a 2.4 litre engine. For the ERC series of
1977 Wurz was entrusted with two experimental crankshafts by
Mike Parkes, to bring the engine capacity up to just under 3000
cc. For 1978 Bentza took the Stratos over from Wurz, sold his
own 2.4 litre Stratos to compatriot Reneé Vontsina, and won the
GT Division title of the ERC. The one and only 3.0 litre Stratos
was raced by Bentza till the mid 1980s, is nowadays still his
property and ready to race. However, one of the two experimental
crankshafts received from the Lancia factory was destroyed
during a Rallycross event in the early 1980s.
Four Lancia Stratos at the Rally Costa Brava, Spain
With only 492 ever made, the Stratos is very rare to this
In 1978, Bertone created and designed a concept car based on
the Stratos called the Sibilo, although it was never intended
At the Geneva Auto Show of 2005, a British design firm known
as Fenomenon debuted a retromodern concept version of the
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