The Stratos had no direct ancestors, strictly speaking, though its midships drivetrain was lifted intact from Ferrari’s Dino 246 GT.
Here it’s important to recall that in 1969, Fiat took over Lancia, then in financial trouble, and also acquired 50 percent of Ferrari.
Bertone’s body design was chunky and stubby yet somehow wicked — and predictably minimal, to hold down weight and bulk. Its most distinctive features were semi-concealed A-pillars and a door beltline sharply upswept to the top of the daylight opening. The shape of the resulting unbroken expanse of glass gave the tunnelback roof the appearance of a futuristic crash helmet.
With 190 horsepower in roadgoing trim, the Stratos could exceed 140 mph. With nicely balanced, if slightly nervous, handling, it was as different from, say, a Corvette as a Derby winner is from a plow horse, the kind of car with which you had to become thoroughly familiar before you could really drive flat out. As with the compact mid-engine Ferraris, however, the Stratos was addictive, and most owners fell in love with it.
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.
The Lancia Stratos 0 (or Zero) preceded the Lancia Stratos HF prototype by 12 months and was first shown to the public at the Turin Motor Show in 1970. The futuristic bodywork was designed by Marcello Gandini, head designer at Bertone, and featured a 1.6 L Lancia Fulvia V4 engine.
The Lancia Stratos HF Zero stayed for a long time in Bertone’s museum, and in 2011 was sold out during an auction in Italy for €761.600
It was recently on display in the exhibit “Sculpture in Motion: Masterpieces of Italian Design” at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. It is currently on loan from the XJ Wang Collection at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA at the Dream Cars exhibit unit September 2014.
The body was wedge-shaped, finished in distinctive orange and was an unusually short (3.58 m (141 in)) length and only 84 cm (33 in) tall, and shared little with the production version.
Automobile design consultant Chris Hrabalek has the largest Lancia Stratos Collection in the world – he owns 11 unique Lancia Stratos cars, including the fluorescent red 1971 factory prototype and the 1977 Safari Rally car.
This new Stratos arrives during the 40th anniversary year of the Marcello Gandini-designed Stratos Zero concept, whose name was later resurrected for the rally car and homologation special.