The Legendary Lancia Stratos

The Lancia Stratos is a motorsport legend, a coveted and precious collectors’ item, and five decades on keeps inspiring many automobile designers.

Matteo Licata
5 min readMay 12, 2022


Lancia Stratos
Her Majesty the Stratos (Picture from

Not bad for a car that, in the period, Lancia didn’t really want to make and that customers didn’t want to buy.

Buckle up, as this is the story of the legendary Lancia Stratos…

Showing Off

Our story begins in late 1969 when Lancia, crushed by an unsustainable debt burden, was rescued by Fiat for the symbolic sum of one Lira per share, and the great coachbuilder Nuccio Bertone saw an opportunity.

Lancia’s coachbuilder of choice had been Pininfarina since the latter’s inception in 1930. Still, the new property and management could allow Bertone to put his foot in the door: so he tasked Marcello Gandini to design a jaw-dropping prototype for the next Turin motor show, something the Fiat and Lancia executives could not ignore.

The result was the Stratos, unveiled at the 1970 Turin motor show to the amazement of the public and press alike.

Lancia Stratos Zero
The 1970 Stratos “Zero” (Picture from the Author)

The powertrain from a Fulvia 1.6 HF sat centrally mounted within a flowing wedge shape tapering sharply at both ends that measured just over 3.5 meters long and a scant 84 cm tall. Access for the two passengers, which had to lay down more than sitting in the car, was via the windscreen.

Bertone had just made car design history but, perhaps more importantly, caught the attention of Lancia’s new managing director, Pier Ugo Gobbato, and Cesare Fiorio, head of the works rally team.

Image Booster

Despite the lack of resources, Lancia’s racing department managed to gain considerable success across Europe rallying the Fulvia Coupé, and since morale at Lancia was low and sales even lower, Gobbato saw Fiorio’s activities as beneficial for Lancia’s image and overall standing.

But the Fulvia’s days as a rally winner were numbered against the ever more powerful and specialized cars…



Matteo Licata

I’ve been obsessed with cars for as long as I remember and, after working in automobile design for a decade, now I’m a lecturer, a published author, a YouTuber