Lancia Stratos HF

A car born to win and signed by a name (an abbreviation of stratosfera – stratosphere) that wanted to highlight its innovative contents. With a state-of-the-art mechanical setting thanks to its transversal engine configuration (mounted almost in a central position) and to the very short wheelbase – that guarantee extraordinary handling qualities – the Stratos appeared on the International competitive stage as the new pretender of the World Rally title.
The Stratos project ideally (and mechanically) came from the noble Ferrari six-cylinder family line and the marriage between Maranello’s factory and FIAT from which, in 1966, comes out the V6 Dino. Indeed, the latest and updated Dino engine enlarged to 2.4-litre would have been revisited by Claudio Maglioli and fitted in the new Lancia rally car, which would have replaced the Fulvia HF in races. The engine was the two overhead camshaft six-cylinder in V configuration of 65°, which supply about 260hp (competition specification) with two valves per cylinder, later developed and modified by Lancia racing division with four valves per cylinder to provide a maximum power of 300hp.
At Turin Auto Show, in November 1971, has been unveiled the Bertone styled Lancia Stratos HF, in a fluorescent red colour. Shapes and details were close to the final “suite” of the rally series car, that one becomes famous and in awe for the ruling at time Alpine Renault A110. Following a year of intensive development, it debuted as Group 5 prototype in November 1972 during the Tour the Corse in which Sandro Munari was forced to retire due to suspensions failure. After this weak debut, the tapered silhouette made “eating the dust” on tight dirty-road to rivals at 1973 European Championship Rally Firestone in Spain, also driven by “the Dragon” Munari, achieving the first victory.
1972 were quite hectic years for Racing division in Lancia; numerous obstacles along the way had to been overcome – with Fioro’s policy often at the limits of the rules – to made feasible the Stratos homologation by the FIA for Group 4 (arrived in October 1974). 500 examples were necessary (built within a 24-month period): Bertone built bodies at their Grugliasco Works and shipped the completed body shell to Lancia for final assembly. The Fiat-Ferrari partnership had to supply engines, but they took longer than expected to get an agreement for the engine’s production – at the end of 1972, FIAT dropped its resistance and led Ferrari to be able to supply them. Although only 183(!) assembled Stratos were ready in two-years production at the end of 1974, Group 4 homologation was confirmed that year.
HF stands for High Fidelity – guess that “il Drago” (Sandro Munari’s nickname) is the most faithful driver of this “ufo”: in his hands, the Stratos won the Monte Carlo rally three times, in 1975, ’76 and ’77, he also led Lancia to the WRC Title 3 times in a row. It was for the 1974 season that the Italian national airlane’s corporate entered as Lancia sponsor and the Stratos wear the green-white-red Alitalia livery, then become famous (fitted with “Canary Yellow” wheels) in rallies history and always associated with this particular car.
About 492 examples of Stratos HF were built, and 28 were Official competition units. This glorious rally-car entered its last WRC with Lancia Official Team in 1977 – for the 1978 season Fiat leadership – that also incorporated Lancia – decided to “employ” the 131 Abarth (largest commercial market car) in rallies. From 1978 Stratos continued to race under privates Team as Pirelli, Maglioli, and Michelotto achieving victories as Tony Carello’s Europen Title (1978) on a Stratos-Pirelli and the 4th victory of Montercalo’s Rally, in 1979 with Maglioli’s Stratos driven by Bernard Darniche/Alain Mahè.
The queen of rallies is inextricably linked to the men behind the project and scenes, who sincerely believe and worked hard in this venture to make it real. From Cesare Fiorio, passing through Ugo Gobbato, Gianpaolo Dallara, Gianni Tonti, Claudio Maglioli, arriving at Sandro Munari, but also Daniele Audetto, Mike Parkers and Nicola Materazzi, all these men led the Stratos to car Olympus, with an illustrious booty of more than 80 international wins and 1974, ’75 and ’76 World Rally Manufacturers’ Championship.


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