Lancia Stratos – A Legendary Rally Icon

The craze of rally racing was at its peak in the 70s and 80s, with so many legendary auto manufacturers striving to win the public admiration as well as the podium. With everything so hyped up, a small Italian company started to emerge and challenged the likes of great players, such as Audi, MG, Citroen, and others. It was none other than Lancia, a small automaker based in Italy that entered the championship with Fulvia and earned a reputation for itself with outrageous performances in the Rally Championship for years.

It was the Lancia Stratos that followed in the footsteps of Fulvia and established itself as a legend, in no time. It was launched in 1971 and designed specifically for the Group 4 rally competitions. It took a lot of dedication and numerous partnerships between different parties for it to become an all-time legend and was the first rally car to be completely designed and built from the ground up. Let’s look at the Lancia Stratos’ technical specification and what makes it so important in history.

A Brief History of Lancia Stratos

Pininfarina, an Italian design firm was tasked with designing the Stratos initially, but an unusual event happened when the chief designer, Bertone, using the shell of a donor car designed a Stratos concept by himself and drove straight into the Lancia factory. The company was so impressed with the design that they let Bertone go ahead with the project, with the assistance of legendary designer Gandini, who sculpted the icons like Lamborghini Miura and Countach.

The Stratos’ power plant was the next big project which the Ferrari initially balked at providing but ultimately agreed to deliver 500 Dino engines to the company after all.  What followed is history, as the Lancia Stratos went on to win over a dozen championships, leaving its name indelible on the rally wall of fame.

Lancia Stratos Technical Specifications 

Rally cars are specially designed automobiles with tough bodywork, strong powertrains, competent transmissions, and resilient suspensions. The driver has all he needs to succeed in the task thanks to all of these factors working together. and the Lancia Stratos has all of it in one package. Let’s have a look at the technical prowess of Lancia Stratos and understand what made it so successful;

Engine

The Lancia Stratos was powered by a very capable, Ferrari-Fiat 236 L 2.4L Dino V6 naturally aspirated engine. It boasted a double-overhead camshaft setup, a 65o V-cylinder layout, with 2 valves per cylinder. This engine was capable of churning out a whopping 275 horsepower and 256 lb-ft of torque.

The stupendous Ferrari powerplant was sculpted out of the lightweight cast iron alloy, and configured in a “mid-engine” style with a transverse layout right behind the passenger compartment. This helped achieve a perfect weight distribution and a lowered center of gravity for improved stability and dynamics.

The need for an extended driveshaft was also excluded, thanks to the Stratos’ rear-wheel-drive configuration with a mid-engine layout. This further shed some weight off the car and helped make it quicker.

Stratos had a specially designed timing belt to match the performance requirements of the Dino V6 engine and wet-sump lubrication to match the needs of extreme performance. It also featured a setup of 3 Weber 40 IDF 28 carburetors to keep the engine firing on all cylinders and a water-based coolant kept the temperature at optimal.

Performance Figures

  1. Top Speed: 230 km/h
  2. Horsepower: 320 hp (for 24 valve version)
  3. Torque: 256 lb-ft
  4. 0-100 km/h time: 6 seconds
  5. Standing Quarter Mile: 13.5 seconds

Transmission

Stratos had a 5-speed manual transmission with optimized gear ratios to send the power from the capable Dino V6 engine straight to the rear wheels. A dry single-plate clutch makes shifting easier, quicker, and seamless, to keep it running on the track without any hindrance. 

Suspension and Steering

Lancia recognized they had to develop and equip the Stratos with a strong suspension and steering to meet the challenge of competing on rough tracks and brutal terrains.

Stratos has a very sturdy suspension setup, with hydraulic absorbers and coil springs at the front and an anti-roll bar with coil springs at the rear. All the other components, such as the bushings, struts, and A-arm got the upgrades as well. Stratos also had a hydraulic rack & Pinion steering for a sharp response, and to keep the over or understeer at a minimum.

Chassis

With only two concepts in mind – Lightweight and Strength, Lancia developed an all-new chassis for Stratos with a tubular frame design. The frame was made of steel and aluminum, and great consideration was paid to its design to prevent any significant body roll or steering issues.

To protect the safety of the diver and the navigator in the event of an accident, the Stratos also received an integrated roll cage. The lightweight construction was the real game-changer as the Stratos came out to weight only 980 Kgs, with a superb weight-power ratio of 5.2 Kgs/hp.

Victories and Accomplishments 

Lancia Stratos enjoyed a successful rally career over the years and has a legendary portfolio as it won multiple prestigious championships.

  1. Back-to-back World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975, and 1976.
  2. It also won the 1974 Targa Florio.
  3. Five times champion of Tour de France Automobile. 
  4. Won three editions of Giro d’Italia automobilistico
  5. Victorious in 1975, 1976, and 1977 Monte Carlo rally.

Different Trims and Unique Versions of Lancia Stratos

For the rally championships, Lancia initially made 492 Stratos in two different variants. With the exception of the valve configuration—12-valve and 24-valve—both trims were identical.  The vehicle was marketed as Lancia Stratos HF Stradale.

Two group 5 turbo Stratos were later manufactured and competed in a variety of events. Due to an overheating problem, one of them caught fire, and the other was sold to a collector.

Andy Bentza, an Austrian rally racer, also owned an example of a distinctive Lancia Stratos. It was a group 5 model with an altered crankshaft that allowed the engine to be tuned to 3000cc. At ERC, Bentza won the GT championship; the vehicle was sold afterward.

Stola S81 was the concept shown by Gandini in 2000, it depicted the modernization of the idea of what the Lancia Stratos would look like in today’s world.

In 2005, a British car designer Fenomenon presented their version of Stratos at the Geneva Auto show. The car was powered by a V8 mid-engine and designed by Chris Hrabalek.  

More To Explore

Track Your Order