The 2020 Lancia Stratos Is Almost Here And We’ll See The Manual Version At Geneva
Manifattura Automobili Torino will also bring to the show the first production New Stratos examplesby Michael Fira, on
The Stratos of the 21st century is almost ready. We’ll get to see the first production models built by Manifattura Automobili Torino (MAT) at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show that kicks off on March 7th. Now we know that MAT will also bring a manual version of the car to Switzerland. That model uses the engine and the rest of the running gear from the Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Only 25 examples of it will be made.
The Lancia Stratos is a legend. As arguably the first purpose-built rally car, it cast a shade on all the other cars competing in top-line rallies in the early ’70s and went on to be competitive for almost a decade. The modern reinterpretation built by MAT is a slightly updated version of the 2010 New Stratos concept founded by German collector Michael Stoschek who gave his permission for the Stratos name to be used on these 25 new cars. Lancia, however, isn’t on board.
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The New Stratos prototype must be one of the best-looking retro-modern cars of the ’00s. In a way, it manages to harken the energy of the original even better than the 2017 Alpine A110.
We've known for a while that MAT managed to strike a deal with New Stratos Gbr., Stoschek's company, to make his running and driving prototype available to more people as part of a limited run of 25 cars.
For the record, MAT was established in 2014 and helped wealthy American business tycoon Jim Glickenhaus realize some of his automotive dreams like the Ferrari-based Glickenhaus P4/5C race car that competed at the Nordschleife on a number of occasions or the more recent Glickenhaus SCG003 and SCG003C race car which, again, participated in the Nurburgring 24-hour race.
Paolo Garella, former Head of Special Projects at Pininfarina, is the man behind MAT and also the project manager behind the original 2010 New Stratos prototype. His company announced that, for this year’s Geneva Auto Show, it’s preparing a bunch of goodies: the first production Stratos cars and a prototype equipped with a manual transmission instead of the six-speed electrohydraulic ’F1’ semi-automatic one. We already know the destination of those two cars as one will head for Germany while - lucky us! - the other will cross the Atlantic and reside in the U.S.
MAT offered most of the key details regarding this awesome creation and one of them, in particular, is unusual: you'll need to provide MAT with a donor Ferrari 430 Scuderia for them to transform it into a Stratos.
That’s a lot to ask given the continuously-rising price of these cars. Currently, you’ll need at least $175,000 to get your hands on a 430 Scuderia although some examples trade hands for upwards of $200,000. Add to this the cost of the conversion itself - $566,819. When all is said and done, you have in your garage a +$700,000 car. That’s about $200,000 more than the MSRP of the Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV or about as much two Ferrari 488 GTBs and two Corvette C7 Z06s.
What do you get for that ludicrous amount of money? A smaller car than the 430 Scuderia you dispatched to MAT. That’s because the Stratos has a 94.5-inch-long wheelbase, 7.8 inches shorter than that of the 430. It’s also only 164.6 inches long, a whole 13 inches shorter than the 430 Scuderia which, however, is one inch lower and 1.9 inches narrower. The chassis features new aluminum elements and an integrated roll cage, the whole thing weighing just 2,749 pounds, 401 pounds less than the Scuderia.
The engine is the same 4.3-liter, naturally-aspirated F136E V-8 engine but, thanks to a modified intake and exhaust, it cranks out 540 horsepower at 8,200 rpm and 383 pound-feet of torque.
The 430 Scuderia only puts out 503 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. These are the exact output figures of the 2010 prototype as well, so one could guess that MAT went with a tried and tested specification. With this said, the company announced a while ago that it can extract as much as 600 horsepower from the engine if the customer so desires and can pay for it.
The car is, anyway, properly fast with a 0 to 62 mph time of just 3.3 seconds and a 0 to 124 mph time of 9.7 seconds en route to a top speed between 170 mph and 205 mph depending on gear ratios. It has 15.6-inch-wide ventilated carbon fiber discs up front with six-pot calipers and 13.7-inch-wide discs in the rear with four-pot calipers. In front of them, there are 19-inch center-lock wheels that are a 10-spoke reinterpretation of the ones used on tarmac stages by the original. The suspension features hydraulic twin-tube aluminum dampers. The two outboard fuel tanks can take up to 23.7 gallons of gas.
With such performance figures, the Stratos could probably keep up with a McLaren 570S which also reaches 62 mph from a standstill in 3.3 seconds.
Then again, so does a Corvette C7 Z06 or a Tesla Model S P85D. The 570S, though, is 240 pounds heavier in spite of its Carbon Monocell II monocoque. It is, though, more powerful with 562 horsepower 443 pound-feet of torque on tap from McLaren’s Ricardo-built 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged, M838TE V-8.
The history of the New Stratos
The New Stratos isn’t, actually, new at all. It’s almost a decade-old design inspired by a car originally presented in concept form in 1970.
Designed by Jason Castriota, Saab's Chief of Design at the time, the New Stratos was a project commissioned by Michael Stoschek, the boss of German parts supplier Brose, and his son Maximilian.
It took Pininfarina two years to build it. At first, the plans were for Pininfarina to build other examples under the leadership of Garella, but Ferrari stepped in, unhappy that Pininfarina went out of its way to modify a Ferrari 430 Scuderia and make it look like a car that would belong to a different brand. That’s when everything was put on hold for a while.
Then, four years later, Garella founded MAT, and the idea caught momentum once again after Stoschek gave his O.K. What I really like about this project is that there have been almost no exterior changes done to the car. It still sports the same body with flared round arches, the pointy nose with incorporated angular headlights - we can no longer have pop-ups in this day and age - and the rocker panels with ’Stratos’ written on them. There’s even the classic spoiler across the top of the roof before the engine lid and the ducktail rear spoiler that completes the tail end of the car.
All of the design cues, the wrapping windshield and side windows with the seemingly invisible
A-pillars, the circular taillights, all are a tribute to the Gandini-designed Stratos from 1971, in itself a more Earthly continuation of the ideas first displayed on the ultimate wedge shape car: the Stratos Zero designed by Bertone himself.
The Zero was born because Bertone needed to have a new prototype to show to the world in time for the 1970 Turin Auto Show. The chassis used was that of a Fulvia, and it caught the attention of Cesare Fiorio, Lancia’s Rally Team Manager.
Bertone and Lancia hadn’t been involved in a partnership before, and the expectations were high from the new car since the old Fulvia took home the Manufacturer’s crown in the final year of the International Championship for Manufacturers, in 1972. Lancia won only two rallies outright that year, including the Monte-Carlo Rally with Sandro Munari, but that proved enough to beat Fiat by a whopping 42 points.
The Stratos hit many hurdles along the way, mainly because of Ferrari’s reluctance to give Lancia the engine that Fiorio wanted for the car: the 2.4-liter Dino V-6. That’s because Ferrari’s own Dino 246 GT used the same engine and Enzo feared that a car from a different manufacturer could end up being quicker than his own product.
That’s why The Drake waited until the 246 GT was retired and his engineers had come up with an eight-cylinder architecture for the new Dino, before sending the V-6s to Lancia. As Gandini points out, this engine was a bit of a farce: heavy, somewhat unreliable and low on both power and torque. The Italian designer actually started to lay the groundwork for the chassis, and the body before Ferrari came through with the engines, aided by the fact that he had a 2.4-liter Dino V-6 from what would become the Dino 308 GT4 that went on to use the Dino V-8.
The first full-scale prototype was built by Gandini and three of his most trusted craftsmen in just three weeks in the Summer of '71.
The fiberglass model was ready by September, and the finished prototype based on that model was displayed at the Turin Auto Show in November. Gandini says that the main source of inspiration for the Stratos as we know it wasn’t as much the Zero but the 1969 Autobianchi Runabout.
As a footnote, the name ’Stratos’ came from an unexpected source. Gandini recalls that, at the time, a colleague of his at Bertone was into model airplanes and, somehow, he passed the bug on to Gandini. The prodigious designer once went out to buy a model airplane and he bought a pre-made one named ’Stratós’ which, somehow, caught on as it was at a time not long after the Moon Landing had happened.
Before the required 400 units were built to homologate the rally car in the Group 4 class, Lancia raced the Stratos in other events such as the Targa Florio where a Stratos finished runner-up in 1973. Then, by 1974, the car was ready to do battle in the WRC after being tested tirelessly by both Sandro Munari and Ferrari ex-works driver Mikes Parkes. The car won three times in its debut season: at the San Remo Rally, at the Rideau Lakes Rally in Canada and at the Tour De Corse in the hands of Bernard Darniche. The other two victories were achieved by Munari himself.
For the Gr. 4 rally car, power ranged between 275 horsepower and 320 horsepower depending on the number of valves per cylinder while the road car had to do make do with only 188 horsepower.
In spite of its weak link, the five-speed manual transmission, the Stratos took home three World Championship titles on the trot, two via Munari and one thanks to Bjorn Waldegaard. After that, Fiat decided that the 131 Abarth should be the car that would represent the whole group in the WRC. However, privateer teams would often beat the works 131 Abarths as the Stratos went on to win the Monte-Carlo Rally in 1977 and 1979 as well. It also won the San Remo Rally and the Tour De Corse again that year, the last (18th) rally win coming two years later at the same venue in France with Darniche behind the wheel.
There was also a Gr. 4 circuit racing version of the Stratos built and raced between ’73 and ’75 scarcely. Then, in 1976, Lancia developed a Group 5 version with a widebody in place of Gandini’s sleek lines. It competed on a few occasions in the World Championship for Makes and, with 560 horsepower from a turbocharged version of the Dino V-6 engine, it was more than a match for the BMW CSL while it lasted, but was never a contender for Porsche’s 935. Still, one of the very few built won the Giro d’Italia Automobilistico in ’76. A Gr. 4 example fitted with the 24-valve engine which had been banned in the WRC by that time won the 1978 edition of the Giro with Giorgio Pianta, Markku Alen and Ikka Kivimaki sharing driving duties.
What this little look back at the Stratos' history serves for is to illustrate the level at which the original operated.
To put it bluntly, the New Stratos has to be great to drive and, if you ask me, has to over-deliver given its hefty price tag and that name on the hood. Sadly, the ’Safar’ version, as well as the ’GT’ racing version, seem to have been canceled by MAT because nothing much was heard about them since they were announced last year.
Read our full review on the 2010 New Stratos
Read our full review on the 2005 Phenomenon Stratos
Read our full review on the 1974 Lancia Stratos HF