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.