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Stratos HF Prototype
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  Lancia Stratos HF Prototype

  Article Image gallery (17) 1240 Specifications User Comments (2)  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1971
Numbers built:one-off
Introduced at:1971 Turin Motor Show
Designed by:Marcello Gandini for Bertone
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 08, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLike many other coachbuilders, Bertone had to change its business model in the 1960s. The ever increasing popularity of the unitary chassis left little room for custom coachbuilding. In order to survive the 'Carrozzeria' had to convert from bodying cars to assembling complete cars for other manufacturers. To showcase the company's engineering and design skill Nuccio Bertone developed a very special concept car for the 1971 Turin Motorshow. Despite its modest height, the striking lines penned by Marcello Gandini ensured that the Lancia Stratos Zero was impossible to miss.

The extreme wedge-shaped show car had been developed completely independently from Lancia and in complete secrecy. The Lancia Fulvia used for parts was a used example that Bertone had reportedly bought incognito. His engineers converted the chassis to the desired mid-engine rear wheel drive layout. It was covered by a very low body that amazingly followed a single line all the way from the nose to the tail. The windshield of the fully running machine tilted forward to allow access to the two-seater cockpit. Bertone initially wanted to call the car 'Stratoline' for its space ship appearance, but later settled for slightly abbreviated 'Stratos'.

Not surprisingly Bertone's Stratos was the absolute star of the show and while Lancia's competition manager Cesare Fiorio walked by at least three times to admire the car, there was no official response from Lancia. Once the dust had settled, the Lancia top brass remained awfully quiet. Bertone tried to set up a meeting to show the car to them, but they were not very interested. Reluctant to give up, Bertone stepped in the concept car and drove it to the Lancia factory. The security guards at the gate could not stop him as the Stratos was low enough to pass under the barrier. The mayhem outside captured the executives' attention and Bertone was allowed in.

Bertone's persistence paid off as Lancia commissioned him to further develop the Stratos together with Fiorio into a new Lancia 'Group 4' rally car, which indeed seems like quite a departure from the ground hugging Stratos Concept. Gandini was once again called in to draft up a completely new shape, which amazingly retained quite a few cues of his original design. The Bertone engineers developed a very compact monocoque chassis, leaving Lancia to worry about the engine. The Fulvia four cylinder engine was discarded and work was started on a brand new competition engine.

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  Article Image gallery (17) 1240 Specifications User Comments (2)