Lancia Stratos Concept review

Modern re-creation of ’70s icon is just as fun to drive as we remember – and hugely desirable

This is a one-off remake of the 1970 Lancia Stratos, part-developed by Pininfarina and based on the Ferrari F430 Scuderia. It’s the culmination of a 10-year dream, turned to a reality by Stratos enthusiast Chris Hrabalek, now a designer at Bugatti, and Michael Stoschek, chairman of family-owned German automotive components supplier Brose.

Hrabalek built a modern Stratos concept that was displayed at the Geneva show in 2005, the positive reaction to this spurring him and project shareholder Stoschek into attempting to find a partner that could build the car for limited production.

This Stratos is intended to be a faster, more agile drive that’s thoroughly modern, but with characteristics that echo those of the original Lancia’s

Richard Bremner | Senior contributing editor.

That initiative eventually faltered, but Pininfarina’s recent creation of one-offs for customers enabled Hrabalek to persuade Stoschek that he should do the same, the Italian design house evolving the Hrabalek car and adapting it to receive the running gear of a Ferrari F430 Scuderia.

The Scuderia’s chassis is shortened by 20cm in the wheelbase and a roll-cage added to an aluminium sub-structure structure that’s clad in immaculately patterned exposed-weave carbonfibre. The carbon body, the shortened chassis and various weight-savings shed 80kg compared to the Scuderia, for an all up weight of 1247kg despite the additional roll-cage and air conditioning.

The Stratos’s power-to-weight ratio is further improved by a modest power increase, taking the total to 533bhp. A mechanical diff replaces the Ferrari E-diff, and the suspension has been recalibrated to suit the altered weight and aerodynamics and Stoschek’s desire for sharper handling, while the F430’s paddle-shift F1 gearbox is retained.

This Stratos’s playful agility is a satisfyingly dominant characteristic, at least on the Paul Ricard circuit where we got to try it. It turns in with high-precision zeal, the body instantly following your steering inputs, the throttle prompting equally sharp response from the V8 motor behind you.

Within a couple of laps the tight corners uncover a car that can be steered with the throttle and flung about with the abandon of an original, forest-rampaging rally Stratos as owner Stoschek, who slides its tail with some panache, demonstrates.

He reckons there’s too much understeer in the tight turns here, but reckons that can be dialled out with set-up changes. Because it will not be sold to the mainstream public, the Stratos has been set up to be more reactive – but it’ll be less forgiving if you get it wrong.