What does Lancia stand for? For luxury cars or for great rally successes? A question that could give those responsible for the planned rebirth some headaches. Because there are the strong types of the past with the names Lancia Delta Integrale, Lancia 037 - and also Lancia Stratos HF. Automotive icons that still shine today and that you can't forget.
Lancia made history with the Stratos and its appearance on the rally circuit marked a turning point. Up to now, production vehicles have usually been modified for motorsport use, but Lancia only designed the Stratos for one purpose from the start. For the rally and for victory.
This trend, which Lancia helped found, meant the end for other, smaller manufacturers. Saab said goodbye to the ruinous arms race and closed the factory rally department in 1980 (Movie). Lancia already had the successor to the Stratos on the drawing board of the design department, and now at the latest there was no stopping the upgrade spiral.
With the Lancia Stratos HF, Lancia flies to victory
Lancia broke new ground in 1971 with the Stratos. Never before had the brand had a vehicle in its range that was so consistently designed for rallying. With the V6 engine of the Dino 246 GT (Link) in the rear, the Stratos founded the victorious dynasty that would lead to the Lancia Delta S4 and the Mythos Integrale.
It just didn't look like a success at first. The first missions in 1972 were sobering, the Stratos was not considered capable of victory. The tide only turned in early 74 when Mike Parkes, a British racing driver and designer, signed on. Parkes (Link) had previously gained experience at Ferrari and Fiat, and his expertise was instrumental in making the Stratos a winning car.
At the beginning of 1975 the time had come. The Lancia Stratos HF flies to victory in Monte Carlo with Sandro Munari and Mario Manucci. His advantage over the runner-up, a Fiat Abarth 124 Rallye with Hannu Mikkola and Jean Todt on board, is more than 3 minutes. The knot has burst - and Lancia cheers.
The Stratos HF wins for Lancia - but is not mentioned
In order to enjoy the rally victory of the prestigious Monte Carlo event as much as possible, the manufacturer placed an advertisement in the German media shortly afterwards.
The new year is off to a good start – writes Lancia. Depicts the Stratos HF plowing through snow and ice, without mentioning that it's a Stratos in the motorsport version. It is rumored that it should deliver up to 420 hp, while the Stradale version for private individuals has to make do with the 195 hp of the V6 Dino unit.
Instead, Lancia lets the rally sun shine over the Beta sedan and coupe, as well as the small Fulvia. They should get something from the rally victory - just like the customers who drive Lancia.
Because, it's not as if you'd race through the Maritime Alps with the Stratos HF primarily for fun. No, really not, assures the manufacturer honestly. The benefit is only for the production vehicles. Point.
But the euphoria would not last long.
Two years later it was almost over with the big stage. Fiat finally had enough of the Lancia victories, which came at the expense of the Fiat 124 and 131. The budget for motorsport is reduced and in 1979 the Stratos team is dissolved. Of course, the abstinence didn't last long, with the Lancia 037 the design department continued as early as 1980, and this Lancia too would fly from victory to victory.
- Sequel follows -