What's Wrong With This Picture: I Want To Believe Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
what s wrong with this picture i want to believe edition

Just because I want to believe doesn’t mean I should. Or that I can. Even by the gonzo standards of 1970s Italy, the Stratos was always a wild one… precisely the kind of car that has no obvious place in the homogenized, safety-crazed world of 21st Century automobiles. Besides, Lancia and Chrysler are becoming two names for the same brand, and it’s tough to imagine a Chrysler Stratos ever coming stateside (if only to avoid the “Cloud Car” associations). Besides, if Fiat is keeping Alfa around as a sporty brand, why would it develop a Lancia sportscar? Other than Old GM-style branding confusion, of course. But the least believable part of these pictures, purportedly showing a Stratos prototype testing at a Fiat test track [via Italiaspeed] are the photos themselves… and the story going along with them.

Though a good source for Italian car news, Italiaspeed has something of a soft spot for the Fiat Group, and its apparent “exclusive” is a bit fishy. As is the story it tells about them.

The two ‘spy’ photographs were taken at the Fiat Group test track at Balocco near Milan on June 21 when this prototype was undergoing secret testing. Very little is known about the ambitious project but Italiaspeed has learnt that it has in fact been privately funded by a European industrialist. The trademark sloping bonnet betrays a badge recess that is of a very similar shape to Lancia’s traditional emblem meaning this new sports car could well be set to carry the famous marque’s name once again, which will raise the hope of Lancisti across the world, as is the fact that it has been in test action at Balocco.

Privately funded by a mysterious industrialist? Last we heard, Lancia boss Olivier Francoise was begging Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne to approve a new Stratos for his struggling brand. And given that Fiat has three sporting brands not counting Lancia, Sergio “industrial logic” Marchionne isn’t likely to approve a bespoke, mid-engined replica of a notoriously hard-to-drive cult car from the 1970s. Unless of course, a well-placed “spy shot” were able to inspire the Lancia legions to rise up and demand it.

And then there’s the pictures themselves. They look overly “spy-ish,” and yet have perfect angles on the car. And to this blogger, the second image looks remarkably computer-rendered. Together, they remind me of nothing so much as the infamous “Porsche Cayman Shooting Brake” hoax that exploited the enthusiastic optimism of several large car blogs. If I’m wrong, well, the world will have a new Stratos, and I’ll have no complaints. At this point though, I just can’t believe.

Join the conversation
2 of 21 comments
  • PeriSoft PeriSoft on Aug 04, 2010

    Is there any problem with current vehicle design which can't be blamed on safety?

  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Aug 05, 2010

    OK, here's the deal. Lancia currently cannot do another Stratos, as they no longer have the rights to the name - those were bought by Austrian car designer (and Stratos fan) Hrabalek. He also presented several concepts (pretty much the same as the car in the picture) of an updated one, IIRC in 2005 or so. The idea behind it is to make a supercar for third world countries, where roads are much worse but there is a client base with money, who'd like to hoon irrespective. At the time Hrabalek hoped to secure the rights to the V8 out of the Ferrari 360 to power it and the suspension settings were to be somewhere between tarmac and gravel (raised ride height, very robust components both thrown in). The car seen testing is most likely a result of that - if Fiat actually decides to buy up the whole program and bring it back in house I do not know, though.

  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.
  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”
  • Random1 Pretty excited about this update, I didn't see it available in mine this morning, but any day now... I think only Apple maps will be on the center display, and not Waze yet, but I assume that'll come soon enough. As to the unnecessary Tesla comment above : I'll take the build quality, the looks, and generally normal items that all cars should have over the M3 any day of the week.
  • Jonathan H. The ES production is going back to Japan so it's safe to assume its assembly building will be utilized for the new EV. Seems like a good fit for what will probably be fairly low volume compared to the Camry/Rav4 assembly lines.