Built by Bertone, the first Stratos were introduced at the Turin Motor Show in 1970, but it wasn’t until 1973 that they finally hit production. When they did, they were radically different, styled by Marcello Gandini, the man behind the Lamborghini Countach’s much-loved style. The 1973 Lancia Stratos was a short-wheelbase, extremely low car, with a central steering position. The Lancia‘s extreme styling made it a slow seller – it was possible to buy a new Stratos in 1980, even though the model had been discontinued in 1975! The fact remains that the Stratos was designed as a rally car, and in that respect it performed beyond expectations, winning two world championships! A privately-entered car also won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1979.
The Stratos was powered by a 2.4-liter V6, borrowed from the Ferrari Dino, which produced 190 horsepower. In such a small car, performance was explosive: top speed of 143 mile per hour, and 0-60 in 6.8 seconds. The Stratos also had all-wheel disc brakes, an independent suspension and a five-speed manual transmission.
It was decidedly not a car for the faint-hearted, as it was notoriously finicky and tough to drive on the edge, but for those that could the rewards and excitement were great! Between 500 and 1,000 of the Lancia Stratos were built between 1973 and 1975, enough for homologation but not much more.