The Stratos Returns
Words: Scott Blackburn
In the world of 1970s rally, there is one name that stands out above the rest, a name that won three consecutive championships and set the standard for rally cars: Stratos. This universally recognisable marque claimed its rightfully-earned glory all the way through to 1975, when its creator, Lancia, stopped its production after a run of just 492 cars.
The name has returned though, a company named Manifattura Automobile Torino (MAT for the sake of this article) headed by Paolo Garella has recently announced a limited production run of 25 brand new Stratos’s. MAT’s new Stratos takes every design cue possible from the ‘70s original, and simply infuses it with a little 21st century overhaul.
Based on a Ferrari F430 Scuderia, the MAT Stratos runs a 4.3 L V8, instead of the original V6, and can run 0-60 in just 3.3 seconds. Plus, because Lancia never actually trademarked the Stratos name and turned down the opportunity to have a hand in the project, this new Stratos is almost its own brand, covered in Stratos badging.
The base Scuderias are taken from Ferrari, have the middle sections chopped out, bigger wheels fitted (much bigger wheels) and an FIA-approved steel roll cage fitted. Those new wheels are an impressive 11” wide, which is comforting when you consider that these new Stratos’s make 540 hp to match a curb weight of just 1270 kg.
If the 540 hp isn’t enough for you, you can ask MAT to tune the engine up to 600 hp. To compliment the potentially 600 hp engine, the new Stratos’ tiny wheelbase makes it exceptionally easy to handle.
From the first glance, the new Stratos’ heritage is undeniable, the iconic wedge shape has been conserved, along with the hood over the rear of the cockpit, which now features air intakes for the mid-mounted monster of a V8. The new model is a little wider than its predecessor, partially thanks to the fender flares designed to accommodate the 11” of wheels, and 18” longer.
Despite the size growth, the new Stratos is still a nimble little machine. The interior is clean, basic and race-orientated. The tight bucket seats, the dash and most of the rest of the cockpit in fact is coated in a suede-like material, with the minimalist gauge cluster housed in a flat sheet of aluminium.
In a fantastic touch, the new Stratos also features a gated gear shifter and specific storage compartments in the doors for keeping your helmet. In terms of transmission there are two options but only one obvious choice, there is an automatic capable of ridiculously fast shifts, or the 6-speed manual which comes with the gated shifter and a lot more fun.
This new Stratos then, looks to be a perfect homage to the original in every sense. For those feeling their trousers getting tighter there is the small issue of the price tag, which is closer to £1 million that £500, 000 and the fact that only 25 will be built.