Most new cars we feature are the creations from the world’s multibillion dollar automakers and are not very close to the heart. This New Stratos on the other hand is the realized dream of one man who poured his heart, soul, and a ton of his own money into the project. The labour of love involving automotive parts supplier, Michael Stoschek, has taken 24 years to materialize, all starting out from a friendship forged at a Lancia Stratos event held in Alta Badia back in 1986.
Michael, a self-confessed uber fan of the original Stratos, decided to create his own new version of the classic Italian Rally superstar. The outcome of all the hard work and passion, we have to say, is utterly amazing. To prove the passion this part-time racer has for the original, he has even bought the trademark rights for the Stratos name from Lancia – which we can assure you didn’t come cheap.
The resemblance to the original is uncanny, yet everything has been updated and made better, without losing any of the nostalgia and old school appeal. The overall “wedge” shape is still the same and the powerplant is still from Ferrari – albeit louder and more powerful. The New Stratos shares a large amount of its underpinnings with the Ferrari F430 Scuderia – which is a brilliant car. If that’s any indication of how this car will ride, handle, sound, and perform, we are in for an absolute treat of automotive euphoria.
UPDATE 02/14/2011: The 2010 One-Off Lancia Stratos may not be a one-off for very much longer. So far 40 potential buyers in Europe and other regions have expressed in interest in purchasing the Ferrari-based model, and plenty more are expected to climb on the bandwagon. If a small series is produced, rumors suggest that each unit will cost about €400,000, or around $545,000 at the current exchange rates. Something tells us that Michael Stoschek - the owner of the one and only 2010 Lancia Stratos so far - may not be too happy with his exclusive ride getting cloned, even if it is only for about 40 other people.
UPDATE 05/10/2011: Michael Stoschek took his brand new Lancia Stratos for a spin on the race track. Hit the jump for the video.
UPDATE 06/27/11: Michael Stoschek had the New Lancia Stratos built for only one reason: racing. In the latest video, Stoschek rides his brand new ride with Dieter Hawranke as he blasts off along the streets of Zwickau during the Sachsen Rallye 2011. Check out the video after the jump to see the New Stratos run rampant on concrete!
The Lancia Stratos’ fascination lies not only in its unique and uncompromising construction - remember this car was originally designed to be a race car ever since the word go. In the ‘70s its exterior design was unparalleled, the sex-on-wheels sound from the Ferrari V6 Dino engine and its remarkable success in competition ensured that this car would forever be etched in history. Up to that point, no sports car had been so methodically developed for racing use from the ground up. Usually cars are developed as road going models and then converted into racing versions. The original Stratos was built the other way around, with few road going models built just for homologation purposes. The race-specific elements include the removable front and rear bonnets for easy access to the engine, helmet compartments for the driver and passenger, center mounted fuel tanks, a mid-engined layout, and a lightweight body with integrated rollcage All of these attributes have been carried through to the New Stratos.
The decision to develop and build a new, ready-to-run Stratos was inspired by the aforementioned meeting with Chris Hrabalek, and the constant drive from his son, Maximilian. This was also the impetus behind Stoschek’s involvement in the not-as-successful Fenomenon Stratos project, presented at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. Michael also owns a ‘70s race-spec Lancia Stratos Group 4 that has a special place amongst the historic cars that he races in rallies and hillclimbs.
Sporting a Marlboro design, the vehicle has been restored over more than a decade, according to the specifications of the “1974 Tour de Corse Andruet/Biche” works car. That’s what we call attention to detail from a man who knows what he wants. Being the chairman of a very successful family owned company meant that resources were not going to be a problem, and that completed the chain required to fulfill his dream. Ever since day one this car was always going to be what Michael and his son envisaged as their perfect Stratos – not just a mere conversion of an existing Ferrari.
Rendering a modern re-creation of a classic shape is something very few can get right. There has to be a balance of old elements, seamlessly amalgamated with contemporary aspects, that create a shape that pays homage to the old, while ushering in a new era of functional form. The then-radical Bertone design of the original Stratos, penned by Marcello Gandini was already ahead of its time, the challenge of re-design was always going to be a challenge. The brightest boys at Pininfarina were contested with the design brief from the Stoschek father and son duo, as well as Chris Hrabalek, to incorporate their influences and specific additions to the car. Michael has been quoted: "Because the design of the Lancia Stratos was characterized by the contrast between round and rectilinear elements, I wanted to see that tension to be carried over into the New Stratos as well."
We can totally understand his reasoning behind that. They have done an outstanding job of melding the new and old car into something that is truly beautiful and well balanced. There is no mistaking the New Stratos for anything else, yet you immediately notice how modernized it has become.
Prototypical design characteristics that were carried over include the wedge-shaped body, the subtly curved semi-circular windshield, pointed front end with its central radiator vent, raised rear end with its round tail lights, low slung roofline and rear spoiler, and last but not least, the five-star wheels - all of which have been given a modern twist. Case in point are the wheels that now feature center locking nuts and a twin-spoked design.
A supercar non-negotiable are the aerodynamics. Without taking Mother Nature into consideration, the forces at play can hurt performance drastically and altogether ruin a car. Luckily for Michael, Pininfarina’s headquarters in Turin has its own wind tunnel where the New Stratos could be honed. Surprisingly, the initial shape was quite effective at generating downforce and minimizing unwanted lift – a testament to the original design. The height and pitch of the body was altered to achieve the perfect desired outcome, which was aided by the addition of underbody fins and spoilers to increase front downforce. Their wind tunnel findings were also used in the calibration of the suspension and proved to be excellent on Fiat’s Balocco test and handling circuit. The New Stratos has more downforce than the old and even better, far less drag than its predecessor.
With alcantara bucket seats and six point harnesses, the interior of the New Stratos can never be mistaken for anything other than a supercar. If you still have your doubts, have a look at the special helmet compartments in the doors for both passenger and driver which will certainly put to bed any doubts you may have had. It’s all business - but in a good way. By that we mean it isn’t minimal like say, a Lotus, but has signatures that stir the blood. There are strong inklings of Ferrari throughout, like the steering wheel with integrated shiftlights, center console, and switchgear – but we aren’t complaining. The driver’s view is a thing of beauty and taking center stage is the Ferrari-based dials that have a unique sinister appeal – think F430 meets Knight Rider and you’ll know what we’re talking about. The large rev counter reads optimistically to 10,000RPM, flanked by a speedometer and obligatory gauges.
Engineering & Performance
The goal for the development of the Lancia Stratos HF’s successor was to maintain the essence of the original, meaning the mid-engine sports car had to have a short wheelbase, low weight, and superior agility and handling. Like we mentioned earlier, the New Stratos shares a lot in common with the Ferrari F430 Scuderia and the performance is no different. Actually it is. Because the entire car is made from carbon fiber and is smaller than the Ferrari, it’s faster! Almost all of the borrowed Scuderia components have been modified and, as necessary, customized to their new intents. The F430 chassis is made form space-age aluminum, and was shortened by 20cm and welded to a roll cage made of FIA-certified, 40mm-thick steel. This significantly increased rigidity, and when combined with the 50:50 weight distribution, provides the basis for the vehicle’s extraordinary handling characteristics.
The 4.3L V8 engine, which draws its intake air from the roof spoiler’s side openings, has been equipped with a new intelligent computer and a high-performance exhaust system, with custom headers and sports cat. The 6-speed transmission received a once over that included a new differential, and the modified control electronics allow for extremely fast gear changes at less than 60 milliseconds. New electronic damper calibration, adjustable via the steering wheel, ensures that the ride is soft on dodgy roads and firm when you visit the track. The 19” center locking wheels expose the carbon-ceramic Brembo braking system, which is comprised of 6-piston calipers at the front, and 4 pots at the rear. Finally, the steering has been converted to an electro-hydraulic setup – something that has been criticized in the past for lessening feedback, and has paddle shifters from the Ferrari 430 GT2 racecar for company. Even the battery hasn’t escaped the dieting – the lithium unit weighs just 4.2kg. Despite the 55kg steel roll cage and the 28kg air conditioning unit – which was a necessary addition, the New Stratos still weighs about 80kg less than the Ferrari. We can expect a 0-60 time of around 3.4 seconds and a top speed of close to 200mph! This will be coupled to the sound of the racing Ferrari V8 which can best be described as a group of Italian tenors being electrocuted. This is automotive nirvana at its absolute finest!
Competition & Pricing
What can you compare this car to? Nothing actually. There is only one that has been made and whilst there may have been hints at putting it into production – even in small numbers - we doubt it. In short it stands alone as an exercise of unwavering passion, determination, and vision of a true enthusiast, and for that we salute you! We’re sure that if enough of us had to spam his inbox asking him to build at least 100 of these monsters he might actually do it. Hmm… Pity we don’t have an email address for him.