The Lancia Stratos was once one of the most dominant forces in the World Rally Championship, as it took home the championship in three consecutive seasons – 1974, 1975 and 1976. After the 1976 campaign, however, the Stratos was pulled out of the WRC.
In 1979, the Stratos wound up with a private racing firm and dominated the 1979 Monte Carlo Rally. The legend of the Lancia Stratos continues amongst rally enthusiasts. The Stratos was not only a rally machine, as Lancia did manufacture a small number of street versions of its rally champ. Unfortunately, with its popularity in the Rally realm, many of the street-version, known as the “Straddles,” Stratos have been converted into rally cars or modified into replicas of the WRC Champion car.
Thanks to the folks at RM Auctions you may be able to own one of the few near-mint condition 1976 Lancia Stratos ’Straddles’ left in the world. This beautifully restored classic is set to go to auction on May 11th or 12th in Monaco.
You may be wondering how well restored is this classic car or maybe if it is worth its asking price? Maybe you haven’t even heard of this car and would like to know more about it before considering shoving off to Monaco.
Click past the jump to read our full review to get a better feel for this car.
Let’s start off by admiring the stellar restoration job performed on this Lancia. Because Lancias were hand-built and often doubled as rally cars, very little attention went into the factory paint jobs and panel fitment. Well, the owner of this car took it upon himself to fix what the manufacturer rushed through, as the medium-blue paint job it absolutely stellar and the panel fitment is to perfection. This makes this restored model even better than it was when it rolled off of the assembly line.
Also true to the original are the two satin black spoilers, one on the roof and one on the rear. These again are positioned to perfection that not even the factory could achieve.
On each corner you have the gold-colored rims, just as the manufacturer fitted it with. These rims are often replaced by slightly more stylish ones, but the owner kept this model true to the original by keeping the original rims intact.
The entire exterior design of the 1976 Lancia Stratos ’Straddles,’ which Carrozzeria Bertone was responsible for, is far more modern that its 1976 model year alludes to. It has a wedge design, which was very rare for the period, allowing it to easily cut through the wind.
On the roof you have a large spoiler that may or may not actually do anything more than add to this vehicle’s aerodynamic drag. On its sloped rear window are louvers to help keep the interior cool.
The back end has a modern-looking, upward-sloping spoiler to help keep the back end firmly planted on the ground. The circular headlights appear to be brand new, or at least very carefully restored, and have satin black trim surrounding them. At the bottom of the rear end it an exposed muffler with dual exits, making for a sort of faux dual exhaust system that won’t trick anyone.
All of the correct decals are carefully placed on this beautiful blue machine. It even has the nice “b” emblem on the B-pillar with “BERTONE” underneath it, in tribute to its designer.
An odd thing about this car is its lack of bumpers, especially on the rear. This car was manufactured after the introduction of front and rear bumper laws in the U.S., so you might want to check on bumper retrofitting requirements if you plan to import it to the U.S. We’re fairly certain it would require bumpers if you plan to drive it on the road, but the NHTSA and DOT may have an exemption for this car.
Overall the exterior is superb, but it is not flawless. You can pretty easily see that there is still a little orange-peel texture on the paint, but this is easily rectified with some fine wet sanding and a high-speed buff. Then again, the orange peel does give it a more classic look, as all paint jobs from that era had some.
The inside of this classic Lancia Stratos is as carefully restored into its original condition as the exterior. Its racing roots are obvious, as it bolsters a very simple interior with loads of gauges and plenty of race-ready equipment.
Mounted on the center of the dashboard is an analogue stop watch, which is obviously used to keep track of lap times. Next to that is the famed Halda Twinmaster, which you may notice is missing the “a” at the end of “Halda,” but replacement logos are readily available. This was used by rally drivers to keep track of total miles traveled on a rally, as well as a separate dial to keep track of practice mileage or other pertinent distances.
Beneath the Twinmaster is a three-pen holder. Yeah, that’s right, three springs in a circle shape to slide pens into. These were extremely important for the co-driver in the car to take notes of track conditions in certain areas of the track during a race.
The dashboard is chock-full with gauges and instruments, so the driver understands exactly how the car is performing. These gauges include: tachometer, speedometer, oil temperature, fuel, oil pressure, amps, and water temperature in bolt Celsius and Fahrenheit. These gauges are appropriately marked in both English and Italian. There is also a rectangular red light, which we can only assume is a shift light.
The steering wheel is a pure racing wheel. It has four metal posts and a rubber grip. In the center of the wheel is a “Lancia,” which may or may not double as the horn button.
The seats are a tan color and appear to be built-for-comfort racing seats, regardless of how oxymoronic that may sound. The dash panel and door panels are a satin black with little to be described.
A nice touch to the interior is the ultra-luxurious wooden gear shifter knob. Also included is a fire extinguisher, just in case you get a little too risky and ignite this beautiful machine.
Oddly enough, according to RM Auctions, there is a “surprising amount of luggage room in the back.” We put that in quotes, as we have no idea what RM Auctions considers a surprising amount, as they may be shocked is a briefcase fits back there.
There is no air conditioning, of course. However, there is a ventilation system powered by a small lever on the bottom of the dash that allows outside temperature air or hot air into the cabin.
Overall, the interior is downright sweet. It’s odd though that this is a Straddles model, yet it has rally equipment installed from the factory.
Engine and Drivetrain
After so much about the interior and exterior, it is sad to say that there simply isn’t much to say about the stuff that makes this Lancia tick. The engine is a tri-Weber carburetor-fed, Ferrari-built 2.4-liter DOHC V-6 that cranks out 190 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 166 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. It has a top speed of 143 mph, which may not seem like much, but in the rallies of the 1970s, that’s faster than you’ll ever need to go.
You may be thinking that this Stratos cannot be too awful quick. Well, thanks to its svelte 980 kg (2,160 lb.) physique, this little machine zips to 60 mph in just six seconds and runs a quarter mile in 13.5 seconds.
Transferring the 190 horsepower to the wheels it the job of a five-speed manual transmission. Its final drive ratio of 3.82 is a little short for a rally car, but on the road that is perfect for cruising down the highway without the Ferrari V-6 screaming too awfully loud.
The engine and gearbox are in their original condition, thanks to this vehicle only having 43,000 km (26,718 miles).
Handling and Braking
Being a rally setup turned street, handling is not necessarily its strong point. You see, rally cars have notoriously high centers of gravity and squishy suspensions. This is what allows them to have the excessive oversteer that allows them slide through tight corners at high speeds. On loose gravel and dirt that is great, but it doesn’t translate well to the street. So don’t expect to go taking twisty roads at too fast of speeds, unless you are in the dirt, of course.
On the front end of the 1976 Lancia Stratos ’Straddles’ is an independent coil-over-shock-style suspension. The rear end has a MacPherson strut setup. The suspension setup is a little backwards, but it is likely to give the front end a little more suspension travel.
On the four corners are hydraulic disc brakes. Both the front and rear discs measure in at 250 mm (9.8 inches), which is plenty of friction surface to bring this lightweight car to a halt.
An average condition 1976 Lancia Stratos ’Straddles’ will fetch upwards of $50,000, so you can assume that a mint condition one with only a little more than 20K on its ticker will fetch a King’s ransom, right? We never expected to see the anticipated auction price of €250,000 to €300,000 ($328,075 to $393,690).
This is extremely high and we anticipate that since these RM Auction cars are always offered without a reserve price that the final gavel price will be a fraction of that estimate.
There really isn’t any competition to speak of, as this is a limited edition machine that not many mass-produced cars can stand up to. Though it may not be as fast or flashy as today’s production cars used for rallies, like the Subaru WRX, its value lies in its rarity and awesome engineering for its era.
We love this car. It was built with a purpose, to go fast in dirt, and Lancia certainly did not offer any apologies for that. We would like to see more amenities on the inside for its whopping estimated price and for the fact that it is a street car. It lack of these features does add to its character and really stays true to its rally roots.
Like we said before, the estimated price seems pretty high considering the low knowledge on these cars. However, if you happen to get two bidders that know exactly what they are looking at, this could wind up turning into a bidding war that results in the price hitting the estimated range.
If you want to take a vacation to France, visit Monaco and possibly bid on this ride, we suggest bringing a $250,000 to $275,000 bidding limit. That may just allow you to drive off with this collector’s item at a price that’s closer to what it is really worth.