“Why the Lancia Stratos? Because it's THE classic car, immediately recognizable and incredibly beautiful”. Words of Enrico Borgogno, owner for five years of a beautiful 1976 Lancia Stratos, the first created specifically for rallies based from a design by engineer Marcello Gandini for Bertone. A true masterpiece born from the intuition of Cesare Fiorio and developed by Reparto Corse Lancia under the detailed technical guidance of Gianni Tonti.
“All the greatest drivers of that time traveled the path of victory in this car: Munari, Waldegard, Andruet, Darniche and many more! A record of victories that has allowed Lancia to win three World Championships, as well as several national championships” Enrico says with excitement. A more than justifiable enthusiasm considering that for any fan of racing and rally the Stratos goes far beyond the concept of a vintage car, still being capable of performances that leave behind many modern-day sports cars. The torquey 190hp Ferrari 2.4 liter V6 engine, with its melodious but high-pitched sound, magnificent at lower rpm's and a joy for driving fanatics, pulling vigorously from the bottom to the top with a never-ending surge of power.
The difficulty in driving this car to the limit is as legendary as it is victorious, however, it's surprising how user-friendly it really is. “Even if it's difficult to drive fast, thanks to its high limits, it's more accessible than you might think” says Enrico, after a challenging corner section, with his eyes still focused on the road.
As the saying goes, “the devil is in the details” and the Stratos definitely has its details: despite being a minimalist car, no Stratos is similar to the other due to the fact that they were built in a hurry to obtain the necessary homologation. One of the many things that makes one fall in love with this car is it’s honesty in declaring its sole purpose: nothing else matters, only winning.
Despite being a piece of history worthy of a museum, the Lancia Stratos finds itself perfectly at home through winding streets above Monte Carlo, moving through them with a surprising agility. Although this particular model has its original, super-soft, Rolls-like suspension set-up, it is fully capable of shining brightly as a rally car: low-end torque, a short wheelbase, and a driving style that favors oversteering.
“I often use it to have fun on these roads, even if it’s not as rigid as a Group 4 racing car”. Enrico's smile while driving is contagious and so is his passion for this remarkable car. A passion that, like emotions, cannot and must not be quantified, although figures remain an important yardstick to see how much these vintage racing cars are appreciated in this world.
“It has got all the winning qualities of a real collector's car: unique styling, an impressive competition pedigree, a thrilling history and more importantly the fact that it is a Lancia! They don’t make cars like this anymore, with such an exceptional brand and history. I will never part ways with her!”. It’s pretty easy, how could you not love this car your entire life?
When we speak of these sort of cars, especially those with the Lancia emblem, it is “always a matter of heart” to quote the late Clay Regazzoni. There are no doubles, only different souls representing the same philosophy.
If that's not true passion... I don’t know what is.
Jacopo Villa, contributor
Photo credits: Federico Bajetti for The Outlierman © 2017