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Coachwork by Bertone
The story of Lancia’s most memorable postwar sports car begins at the 1970 Torino Motor Show, where Carrozzeria Bertone unveiled the dramatic new Stratos Zero concept. With its bold wedge shape, futuristic front-hinged door and mid-mounted Fulvia powerplant, Bertone’s prototype was the star of the show and attracted the interest of Lancia director Ugo Gobbato and HF Squadra Corse head Cesare Florio.
At this time, Lancia offered two sporting models – the Flavia and Fulvia – which Florio had transformed into successful rally cars. With the Stratos, Florio saw an opportunity to build a purpose-built competition vehicle that could also serve as a showcase for Lancia’s forward-thinking approach to automotive design. Convinced of Florio’s vision, Gobbato approved the project and Nuccio Bertone worked in tandem with Marcello Gandini and the Lancia racing department to create the original Stratos HF prototype.
The Stratos HF made its competition debut at the Tour de Corse in November 1972 and the following month Ferrari agreed to provide a run of 2.4-liter Dino engines for the new car. With an engine supply secured and two prototypes already built, Lancia called on the services of engineer Gianpaolo Dallara to further develop road and racing versions of the Stratos.
In late 1973, Lancia made preparations for the production of the Stratos HF and Bertone supplied 500 monocoque chassis. On October 1, 1974, the Stratos was finally homologated for the FIA’s Group 4 Special GT Category. Over the next five years, the innovative Lancia sports car dominated rally racing, capturing hundreds of wins.
In total, Lancia built 500 examples of the groundbreaking Stratos, the majority of which were sold to private customers as road-going Stradale variants.
According to the research of Thomas Popper, the noted Swiss Stratos expert and author of the definitive book Reparto Corse Lancia, this Stradale, chassis 001599, was completed by Bertone on April 17, 1975. Originally finished in Dark Blue with Alcantara upholstery and Saval Sereno carpeting, the Stratos was delivered new to Mocauto, the official Lancia agent in Milan, Italy.
Early in the car’s history, presumably in the late 1970s, the Stratos was repainted Light Blue and sold to a Japanese collector. Upon arrival, the Lancia chassis number (located on the front section of the frame) was over-stamped and assigned a new identification number, as was standard practice in Japan at the time.
Around 1982, the Stratos was exported to California and sold to the current owner, a Bay Area-based enthusiast whose sophisticated mechanical tastes led him to collect Lancia automobiles and bevel-drive Ducati motorcycles. Registered in California and driven occasionally throughout the 1980s, the blue Stratos must have been an extraordinary sight on San Francisco streets.
In 1993, the consignor parked the Lancia and it has remained in undisturbed static storage ever since. Presented today in as-found, unrestored condition, this unlikely garage-find Stratos still wears its blue-and-yellow California plates and 1970s-era Pirelli CN36 tires.
Although it will require mechanical re-commissioning prior to use, this Stratos presents its next owner with a difficult decision – restore it to its original glory or simply preserve its current patinated condition. Thanks to its many years in storage, the Lancia’s interior is particularly well preserved, as are the large sections of original Dark Blue paint visible on the chassis frame.
In addition to providing the original build date and delivery data for 001599, Thomas Popper's research also confirmed that the car’s engine (number 001089) is the original matching-number component. The correct, original scocca number (288) can be seen in the correct location on the chassis, front body section, and door hinges; however, the rear body section appears to have been replaced at some point as it bears number 387.
Offered for public sale for the first time, and presented by its long-term owner, this Lancia is a mesmerizing example of what is among the most iconic, influential, and successful purpose-built Italian sports car of the 1970s. Gooding & Company is proud to present this fascinating Stratos and recommend it to any collector with a passion for avant-garde automotive design.
*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1976. Please also note that this vehicle has been in long-term static storage and may not be currently operational. It will require mechanical attention prior to road use.