Recent rumours of a Lancia Stratos rebirth gained fresh momentum this weekend with the circulation of yet more unaccredited spy photos of a mysterious and now famous Stratos clone, apparently again shot during testing at Fiat’s Balocco test track. Unlike the earlier, extremely grainy snaps, however, the latest are rather professionally composed images showing a well-finished vehicle in the final stages of development, and include a quite artful side-by-side with an original model in full rally dress.
Previously reported to be a one-off built for an individual affluent client, speculation now leans as well toward at least a passing interest in the car by the Fiat Group and the possibility of limited production as a brand-boosting exercise for the Lancia badge, similar in concept to the role for Alfa of the 8C Competizione.
The design is said to be by American Jason Castriota during his tenure with Pininfarina, but elements like the headlamp and rear valance treatments would seem to indicate the influence of designer Chris Hrabalek, creator of the Fenomenon Stratos shown at Geneva in 2005. Prominent Stratos authority and collector Hrabalek also happens to own the Stratos name, having snatched it up after Fiat failed to renew the rights some years ago.
Sources state the new Stratos, like the legendary ’70s Stratos, is mechanically based on a Ferrari driveline (in this case, from the seriously quick 430 Challenge Stradale). If so, any production version would almost certainly share Ferrari’s cutting-edge stability control technology, too, thereby taming the sudden oversteer tendencies of such a tiny wheelbase, while retaining the lightning-fast reflexes and agility of its rally super-car predecessor. Visions of a sort of 4-wheeled Ducati Streetfighter spring to mind, which would make an interesting and fresh direction indeed for a new 21st Century exotic.
Unfortunately, it still seems unlikely that Fiat would choose that direction for Lancia, given the decidedly non-sporting bent of the division’s contemporary product line-up. Which is a shame; a few tough little streetfighters prowling about with Chrysler Lancia on the badge might be just what the partnership needs, on both sides of the Atlantic. And from the look of these photographs, most of the hard work has already been done.