By on August 4, 2010

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.

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21 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: I Want To Believe Edition...”

  • avatar

    Well, Fiat could make a mid-engine platform and then share it as a Lancia Stratos, Maserati Bora, and Alfa Romeo 33.

    Change the styling for each, then give the Maserati a V8, the Stratos a V6, and the Alfa an I4 Multiair.

    Of course, the North American version will need to be called the Chrysler TC by Lancia.
    Hell, they could even turn it into a Dino! Although a platform-shared Ferrari could signal the end of the world.

  • avatar

    I’m also looking forward to Ford’s re-issue of the Pantera.


  • avatar

    That looks like a concept car from the eighties.

  • avatar

    Why is there a divot where the emblem would go? If you are making panels for a test mule wouldn’t you leave that smooth? Just curious.

  • avatar

    If it ever comes to market, I certainly hope it won’t come with those ‘frightened lamb’ headlights. Looks like an ’00-’05 Eclipse.

  • avatar

    With all that is wrong with the automotive world at the moment… PLEASE say this isn’t a hoax. There are some cars that should come into existence. This is one of them… minus the dweeby headlight though.

  • avatar
    Darth Lefty

    There should be two car industries:
    – An industry that makes bad cars that are cool for people who care
    – An industry that makes good cars that are boring for people who don’t care

    Independently they might both be profitable but together it’s impossible.

  • avatar

    Not going to happen in the US… ever.

  • avatar

    They’ll have to call it the Chrysler “Cirrus” here. Tee Hee.

  • avatar

    Stop playing with our emotions FIAT!

  • avatar

    100% awsome.

  • avatar

    This looks like a photograph of a video game screencap

    And yea this car will never see the light of day.

  • avatar

    I’m also looking forward to Ford’s re-issue of the Pantera.


    Last I heard De Tomaso has filed chpt 11 quietly.

    Not sure if Ford could afford to gamble in such a car anymore.
    None the less the Pantera body is totally timeless, is hard to say the car was from the 70’s.
    Or some kit car co. could make replicas of them, just like the GT40.
    I saw one the other day, she left me breathless.
    With Ford power train the car basically is a low maintenance car, just have to find an auto transaxle. Some say even a VW transaxle could take a lot of punishment, i mean horse power before she breaks.

  • avatar

    Boutique cars are not an uncommon phenomena, especially not in Italy. Remember the early 90’s Lancia Hyena?

    “The Integrale based Hyena was built in collaboration between the Lancia importer for The Netherlands Paul Koot and Zagato. The Hyena was designed in 1990 by Marco Pedracini (Zagato), and introduced at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1992. The Hyena was based on the Delta Integrale floorpan structure, but with a 2-door coupe body. Integrales were stripped down in Holland and then sent to Zagato in Italy to have the new composite/alloy body fitted. They were then sent back to Holland for final assembly. All of this made the Hyena very expensive to build and they were sold for around $75,000. The Hyena weighed around 200 kilograms (440 lb) less than original Integrale and had around 250 brake horsepower (190 kW) and could accelerate from 0–100 km in 5.4 seconds.

    There were 92 made, and another 17 were planned.”

  • avatar

    Damn, for a min I thought it was a reborn Fiero. Requiescat in pace, Pontiac, requiescat in pace.

  • avatar

    Generalissimo Leon?

  • avatar

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

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    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.

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