Bertone had previously done no business with Lancia, who were traditionally linked with Pininfarina, and he wanted to come into conversation with them. Bertone knew that Lancia was looking for a replacement for the ageing Fulvia for use in rally sports and so he designed an eyecatcher to show to Lancia. Bertone used the running gear of the Fulvia Coupé of one of his personal friends and built a running showpiece around it. When Bertone himself appeared at the Lancia factory gates with the Stratos Zero he passed underneath the barrier and got great applause from the Lancia workers. After that a cooperation between Lancia and Bertone was decided to develop a new rally car based on ideas of Bertone’s designer Marcello Gandini who already had designed the Lamborghini Miura and Countach.
Lancia presented the Bertone-designed Lancia Stratos HF prototype at the 1971 Turin Motor Show, a year after the announcement of the Stratos Zero concept car. The prototype Stratos HF (Chassis 1240) was fluorescent red in colour and featured a distinctive crescent-shaped-wrap-around windshield providing maximum forward visibility with almost no rear visibility. The prototype had three different engines in its early development life: the Lancia Fulvia engine, the Lancia Beta engine and finally for the 1971 public announcement, the mid-mounted Dino Ferrari V6 producing 190 hp (140 kW). The use of the Dino V6 was planned right from the beginning of the project, but Enzo Ferrari was reluctant to sign off the use of this engine in a car he saw as a competitor to his own Dino V6. After the production of the Dino car had ended the Commendatore agreed on delivering the engines for the Stratos and all of a sudden 500 engines were dumped on Lancia’s door.
The Stratos was a very successful rally car during the 1970s and early 1980s. It started a new era in rallying as it was the first car designed from scratch for this kind of competition. The three leading men behind the entire rallying project were Lancia team manager Cesare Fiorio, British racer/engineer Mike Parkes and factory rally driver Sandro Munari with Bertone’s Designer Marcello Gandini taking a very personal interest in designing and productionising the bodywork.
Lancia did extensive testing with the Stratos and raced the car in several racing events where Group 5 prototypes were allowed during the 1972 and 1973 seasons. Production of the 500 cars required for homologation in Group 4 commenced in 1973 and the Stratos was homologated for the 1974 World Rally Championship season. The Ferrari Dino V6 engine was phased out in 1974, but 500 engines among the last built were delivered to Lancia. Production ended in 1975 when it was thought that only 492 were made (for the 1976 season, the Group 4 production requirement was reduced to 400 in 24 months). Manufacturer of the car was Bertone in Turin, with final assembly by Lancia at the Chivasso plant. Powered by the Dino 2.4 L V6 engine that was also fitted to the rallying versions, but in a lower state of tune, it resulted in a power output of 190 hp (140 kW), giving the road car a 0–100 km/h time of 6.8 seconds, and a top speed of 232 km/h (144 mph). The car was sold as the Lancia Stratos HF Stradale.
The Stratos weighed between 900 to 950 kilograms, depending on configuration. Power output was around 275 hp (205 kW) for the original 12 valve version and 320 hp (240 kW) for the 24 valve version. Beginning with the 1976 season the 24 valve heads were banned from competition for being non-standard. Even with this perceived power deficit the Stratos was the car to beat in competition and when it did not suffer an accident or premature transmission failure (of the latter there were many) it had great chances to win. Despite of the fact that the Stratos was never intended to be race car, there were two Group 5 racing car built with 560 hp (420 kW), using a single KKK turbocharger.
This car was first sold in UK as a strret car. The car was then sent to Spain where the new owner could get his hands on an original 24 Valve engine which is extremly rare. Lancia had made back in 1975 ten 24 Valves engine to upgrade the existing 2valves per cylinders engine, but soon after the introduction in the world rally Championship ,the new engines were banned. The 80 hp horse power gain was considered unfair and they had to go back to the same engine set up as when the cars left the Factory.
The car had now a very special engine but still had the same chassis specification of the Street Stratos.
I purchased the car in 2015 and immediatly took it to Perosino Garage ( well know Lancia tuner ) in Turin for a full restauration and a complete Group 4 set up. This set up included basically a full conversión on all the elements of the car with the exepction of the engine and body.
The work took almost a year and included change of gearbox ( straight cut , lower gearing) , change of interior ( dash, mechanical instruments, seats, safety devices ), change of suspensión ( arms, balljoins, Ohlins shoks, springs), change to fuel cells, electrical loom, magnesium wheels , straight exhoust, and original Alitalia livery with the correct Carello halogen set up.
After the restauration the car participated in the Modena Cento Ore Classic in Italy and behaved perfectly, both on tracks like Mugello and Imola, and on the beautiful backroads of Tuscany.