Skip to main content

Lancia Stratos

Lancia Stratos 1970s classic Italian sports car

In classic car terms, the word 'wedge' might describe the large amounts of money required to buy, restore and maintain them! In the case of the Lancia Stratos, though, it could be used literally - for the car was nothing less than a 'wedge on wheels'. Short for 'stratosphere', that is precisely where its drivers would end up pointing, if they did not grant the Stratos the necessary respect! The car's blade of a shape seared through air! It was only on the road as a means to an end - 500 production cars had to be built, to permit Lancia to contest the Group 4 rally version.

But, the Stratos was not conceived with competition in mind. Lancia, though, had been gradually slipping behind its rivals - both on the road and at the races. When Cesare Fiorio - head of Lancia's autosport arm - clocked the Stratos concept car, he straightaway saw a chance to get things back on track. That was at the 1970 Turin show. Styled by Marcello Gandini - at Bertone - the Stratos looked superb. Technically, too, it was perfect for Fiorio's purposes. Not only was it lissom and light - but its engine was centrally-located. Sling in a Ferrari 'Dino' motor - and Fiorio was sure it would have all the prerequisites for a top-flight competition car!

It would be a long way from the cool confines of the Turin show, to the blazing heat of some of the rally stages. But, with beefed-up suspension - and a more upright driving position - the Stratos was good to go. Once it had donned its 'Alitalia' paintwork, that is! As a rally car, it would be iconic. But, in road-going mode, too, there have been few cars so 'sharp' as the Lancia Stratos!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

FN Four

In terms of breakthroughs in the history of motorcycling, there cannot be many to rival the first in-line four engine. Belgium was the birthplace of this landmark layout. FN was the much-to-be-thanked manufacturer.The FN Four first hit the highway in 1911. It produced 4bhp. That, from a 491 cc capacity. At the time, such figures described state-of-the-art technology. Top speed for the FN Four was 40mph. Not bad - for an 8-valve inlet-over-exhaust set-up. Oh, it was air-cooled.The FN Four was light - tipping the scales at 165lb dry. Not only the motor, but the chassis, too, was avant-garde. It featured an early form of telescopic forks. A new-fangled clutch - and 2-speed 'box - only added to the FN Four's slick box of tricks. Solid shaft-drive output the power. Who, then, designed this visionary vintage? You will not hear the name Paul Kelekom shouted from motorcycling's rooftops. But, you should - for it was he who fashioned the FN Four. In so doing, he ki…

Gilera Saturno

Gilera was a big player in the realm of 1950s motorbike manufacturing. After that, the firm met with mixed fortunes. Gilera's Fifties flagship - the Saturno - was launched in '46. Rolled out in 'Sport', 'Touring', and 'Competition' modes, the Saturno would sell well for years.The Saturno 'production racer' was a hit both on road and track. Competitive for many seasons, it remained so for some time after its production run finished - at the fag-end of the '50s.In road-going form, the Saturno stayed tethered to the tarmac - thanks to its telescopic forks, and vertical rear shocks. Indeed, it would gain a reputation as a 'performance bike' of its day. Towards the end, Gilera was linked with Piaggio, Vespa - and the scooter scene, generally. Illustrious though those names still were, Gilera's glory days were behind it. Bikes like the Saturno, though, still shone a light for past success.

NSU Ro80

The styling of the NSU Ro80 was ahead of its time. At first glance, masses of glass were straight out of science-fiction. Closer inspection revealed the gently rising line of its profile - giving it a low front, high back stance - which would influence automotive design for years to come. The 5-seater body was supremely aerodynamic for a saloon car - making cruising at speed a breeze. So flawless was it outwardly that it was hardly touched in ten years of production. Just the tail-lights were modified, on later versions.The Ro80's handling was equally impressive. FWD - and precision power-steering - kept it perfectly pointed. The long-travel strut suspension soaked up bumps. High-efficiency disc brakes were fitted all round. The 3-speed semi-automatic transmission swept through the gears with aplomb. Top speed was a sound 112mph.But, of course, nothing is perfect. The Ro80 was powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine. Unfortunately - in a rush to get the car into showroom…