By on August 14, 2010

OK, so we’ve been convinced that the re-born “Lancia Stratos” isn’t just a photoshop… but honestly, we wish it was. Because then the autoblogosphere might not have spent half the week running silly headlineslike “It’s Real!” and “Headed To Production!” and “My Sophisticated Appreciation For The Iconic Lancia Stratos Just Got All Over My Favorite Pair Of Blogging Sweatpants!” The reason that these headlines need to stop are simple: 1) Nobody will ever see this car on the road, 2) it will never be offered for sale, 3) It’s not even a freaking Lancia and 4) the entire story is so knee-deep in bullshit that it’s amazing anyone pays even the remotest bit of attention to it. And since we’re speaking truth to fanboyishness, I’ll just go ahead and say it : nobody actually wants a Lancia Stratos anyway… and even if they did, they certainly wouldn’t want this new one. Yes, you heard me.

Let’s take this point-by-point. How do we know that the Lancia Stratos will never be seen on the road? When have you ever seen an original, or even a replica Stratos on the road? They were barely road-legal to begin with, and by all accounts had savage road manners, were hideously unreliable, and now cost too much to even consider driving anywhere other than Pebble Beach or Concourses of equivalent elegance. Besides, one look at the new Stratos proves that it’s track-only at best… there are more crumple zones on a candy bar wrapper. And with a rumored Ferrari V8, its road manners, cabin space and reliability probably make the original look like Corolla. Which brings us to point two: this car is never going to actually be built.

The main reasons this car will not be built in any volume are that it can not be made street legal, it will cost an insane amount, like the original Stratos it can’t be that great to drive, and Lancia needs a Stratos in its lineup like it needs a hole in the head. Fiat’s already got Ferrari, Maser and Alfa to develop sporty cars, and Lancia is another name for rebadged Chryslers. A Stratos is as relevant to the Lancia brand as cocaine is to Coca-Cola.

Which is where we get to the copious amounts of bovine excrement floating around this story. The source for the entire story is ItaliaSpeed, a Fiat/Chrysler fan blog which insists that the new Stratos has been under development for four years and is being financed by a mysterious “European Industrialist.” Developing a bespoke short-wheelbase platform with a Ferrari V8 would cost an insane amount, especially if it was styled by Bertone and developed over the course of four years. Sure, it’s possible that a mysterious magnate thinks that a reborn Stratos is worth tens of millions of dollars, but if the story is true, this “industrialist” makes Jimmy Glickenhaus look like a model of tasteful, old-money restraint.

After all, with “at least” three prototypes running around, this is not just a one-off. And yet, for the reasons given above, it will never make regular series production. The costs of developing one, let alone three, prototypes would make this the most expensive privately-developed car in history. And for what? A car that couldn’t possibly be better than the $300k Ferrari that allegedly donated its engine, and is as original as a new Dodge Challenger? If, as seems to be the case, Fiat is somehow supporting this project, it’s a slap in the face for the struggling Alfa brand, which could have used the money spent on the Stratos to develop a distinctive new sportscar (preferably somewhat affordable) ahead of its US-market launch.

But even if this really is just the passionately wasteful project of some Angelli wastrel, it’s unoriginal and highly pointless. Unless these bespoke, Ferrari-powered Stratoses are actually going to be raced (profoundly unlikely for countless reasons), they’re destined to spend eternity in some underground garage in Bahrain after a couple of Pebble Beach appearances. Does that make this the heir to the barely-homologated Stratos, or a silly, masturbatory ego project? Based on the size of the internet circle jerk, the latter scenario seems far more likely.

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29 Comments on “Enough With The Lancia Stratos Already!...”

  • avatar

    Ah, you sound like a scorned lover. You’re only jealous. And who wouldn’t be, for that truly Italian “Gotta have, but can’t get my hands on” feeling?

    There are umpteen examples of Italian specials made, even to this day. Think of it as the Fiat empires halo successor after the Alfa 8C Competizione. The Alfa/Ferrari/Maser parts bin is deep enough to make a bespoke vehicle like that, and not make it stratospherically expensive. I’d reckon a 100% premium on top of the price for a Ferrari California. The Alfa 8C was made in 500 examples, and they sold every single one of them. Even in the low hundreds, the Stratos would be a practical proposition.

  • avatar

    I can’t wait to drive this car. In the next Sega Rally game.

  • avatar
    M 1

    If the original Stratos is such an undesirable god-awful piece of crap, and any possible remake is going to be a total failure and a disaster that you wouldn’t buy even if you could afford it, why did you run the other story in the first place?

    You’re so busted.

  • avatar
    the duke

    Ed, I’m going to have to completely disagree with your opinion on the Stratos. We musn’t confuse cars that make sense with cars that make sensual. Is the Lancia inexpensive, practical, or necessary? No, no, and no. But last time I looked, the autoblogosphere was not comprised of Camry owners. I wouldn’t be a part of it if it was.

    Very few modern cars are what I consider pretty. The few that are, are Italian. Does it make sense to make the Stratos for Fiat? No. Will they? Maybe not. Who cares! It has a Ferrari V-8, it has clamshells, it it gorgeous! Did I mention it has clamshells? I love clamshells. Just looking at reverse opening clamshells gives me Miura-esque goose bumps. A car world without Italian exotic one-offs is a car world I don’t want to live in.

    You were complaining about it being track-only with no crumple zones? What do you think a Lotus Elise is? I know TTAC takes the practical side of things a lot, but Ed, if you are worried more about the lack of crumple zones in high strung V-8 mid-engine exotics, you need to check your car pulse. You may be dead.

    Lastly, as Ingvar pointed out, Fiat can sell this. They sold the Alfa 8C as he noted. You only have product overlap if the customer will buy one or the other – people rich enough to buy this have no such dilemma. The man with a 458 Italia, Alfa 8C, Maserati Quattroporte, Lamborghini Gallardo, etc. doesn’t see product overlap in the Lancia Stratos, he sees what will fill one of his still empty car stalls. And more power to him, I wish I were he.

  • avatar

    thought your rant was going to end with: “… and since it is unlikey to sell, I’m willing to take it off your hands for cheap.”

    Cost of most cars is in the engineering, development, testing, tooling and facility upgrades.

    Now, if there are 3 examples running around, there is at least some prototype tooling around that should be capable of cranking out somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 pieces, and didn’t Fiat buy the assets of Bertone (given those and the other low-volume facilities they posess, they should have the physical and human assets to produce these cars w/o having to resort to the big investments necessary to equip a high-volume plant.)

    Finally, a Ferrari engine once found its way into a Maserati, so why not now into an Lancia?

    And given the image of Lancia which to me is more boring than that of Buick was at the height of its respectability, I think a counter-poise-ish halo car to balance the image of the waacky-looking pope cars produced over the last few years is probably a good investment.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.

      This halo car is what they need to generate interest in the brand again.

      A Delta Integrale (a convincing one) would also be nice.

      If all of this is true, remember the Alfa 8C Competizione of a few years ago.

  • avatar

    There’s definitely a lot of irrational exuberance over this car on the blogosphere, though I’m a little biased since I wasn’t a huge fanboy of the original Stratos to begin with. Fiat’s involvement in this car probably ends at lending them the test track, maybe some R&D time from their engineers and red tape related to the “Stratos” name. The car was not camouflaged on the track and there’s been no word going around on what the car will actually be named, neither of which lend to building hype.

    From what Iv’e read, the car is built on a shortened F430 (you can see that it has an F430 rear diffuser), which means a small production run by the coachbuilder would not be out of the question, once they iron out all the bugs for this ‘wealthy industrialist.’ The four years of R&D would just about cover the design and manufacturing, and the rest would be a little bit of fine tuning.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    “A Stratos is as relevant to the Lancia brand as cocaine is to Coca-Cola.”

    To add to the metaphor:

    As I’m sure everyone knows, Coca-Cola originally contained cocaine. Fewer are aware that it is still flavored with coca leaf. It’s imported and decocainized. The extracted cocaine is sold to pharmaceutical companies and the excess is destroyed.

    This is much like the relation between Lancia and sports cars. They were once an essential part of the formula, but over time the formula has changed. What remains today is only the flavor, not the active ingredient.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    I saw an original rally Stratos on the road in the 70’s , but it was competing in a rally at the time.Fabulous machine. The replica ones (which you could build with 4 or 6 cylinder Alfa engines)had panels that were interchangeable with the real thing, and were relatively affordable – unlike this new incarnation.

  • avatar

    Wasn’t the original Stratos engine a Ferrari design to begin with? If I’m not mistaken, it was the Dino V6, tweaked for rallying. An engine that was also fitted into the Ferrari Dino and the Fiat Dino.

  • avatar

    TTAC, you may be sick of a weeks worth of headlines about the Stratos, but I’m sick of the four years of Volt articles. And I’m sick of the weekly “special” editions of the Mustank.

  • avatar
    John R

    Still want one. Or at least drive one…before I die.

  • avatar

    Methinks thou dost protest too much

  • avatar

    New Lancia Stratos Yeti sightings = cheap halo car for Lancia brand.

    Just listen to the original, who cares if you couldn’t live with it? It’s like considering taking Naomi Campbell back home to meet mom, it’ll never happen, but the thought of getting one ride is enough to keep you happy.

    • 0 avatar

      You had me at “just listen…” That’s pure porn, I’m not even sure it’s SFW. It looks so nimb and tossable, so much balance, considering the mid-engine and RWD. Look at the clip at 1:45 in, he clears the obstacle with only centimeters to go. The perfect marriage between man-machine. They plant the car exactly where they want it to be, every single time, like it was an elongation of their bodies.

  • avatar

    I would kill all of you to have a Lancia Stratos (the original one).

  • avatar

    some Angelli wastrel

    y0! it’s Agnelli. Please fix your text

  • avatar

    More Ferrari engines in Lancia’s, you bet. Lancia Thema 8.32 (think chassis cousin of the Alfa 164,saab 9000, Fiat croma.)

  • avatar

    You’re my hero, Ed. Internet circle-jerk is right. Thank you.

  • avatar

    Someone needs to write a “In defense of..” counterpoint to this.

    If Ford was able to build the GT and Chrysler was able to build the original Viper then I don’t see why Lancia couldn’t make the new Stratos.

    Screw Alfa Romeo and Maserati. It isn’t like the platform from the new Stratos couldn’t be given to those brands as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Ugh. You, sir, have fallen prey to “I saw it on the Internets, it must be real.”

      IT’S NOT A LANCIA! There’s NO Fiat money behind this! It WON’T see production.

      Christ, this isn’t Italy’s Ford GT. It’s some rich douchebag’s pet project. Get over it.

    • 0 avatar

      Get over it.


      Anyway, my comment was meant more to support the general idea of a new Lancia Stratos, not necessarily to champion the production of this prototype.

    • 0 avatar

      Marchionne spent way too long on a riser in Auburn Hills detailing Fiat’s plans for the future. Guess what? A Lancia supercar wasn’t mentioned. Even in Italiano. Further, they don’t have a single lira, err, euro, to spend developing one.

      Really, everybody offering their left arm for a nuovo Lancia sports car, pony up and buy yourself a nice vintage Fulvia. That’s what I did. Itch scratched.

    • 0 avatar

      Really, everybody offering their left arm for a nuovo Lancia sports car, pony up and buy yourself a nice vintage Fulvia. That’s what I did. Itch scratched.

      In addition to a new Stratos, Lancia should make a new Fulvia.

      In fact the whole Lancia brand could just be the Stratos, Fulvia, and Delta (with HF Integrale variant).

  • avatar

    Just stick a “Chrysler” badge on it and, “ta da,!” Chrysler’s new sports car!

    In the tradition of the Chrysler Prowler, Chrysler TC (by Maserati), Chrysler Conquest and Chrysler Laser.

  • avatar

    Why is everyone giving these morons a pass? They couldn’t build a car for America with the Marshall plan and they have suddenly become the “saviour” of Chrysler? Come on. No one remembers 850s or X1/9s and Bravas? They have bamboozled the blogosphere. They need to show a real product, not just some damn one-off. A short memory can be deadly- to your wallet. Would anyone buy a Jaguar that had Lucas electronics for a daily driver? Not bloody likely.

  • avatar

    Next up; someone with more money than sense or good taste converts a Cadillac SLR into an Allard J2X. This PseudoStratos looks like a tuner got ahold of a SAAB Sonnet III and turned it into a ricer.

    And to think a perfectly good 430 had to die to give this posuer life, I think I’d rather have the 430.

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