The Lancia Stratos is a rally legend and one of the most iconic sports cars of all time with legions of fans. One of those fans, German businessman Michael Stoschek, even went as far as commissioning Pininfarina to build a one-off modern-day iteration of the Stratos based on the hardware of a Ferrari 430 Scuderia.
But not many people know that the first spark that ignited this firestorm was a Bertone concept. Enter the 1970s Stratos Zero prototype. It all started when Bertone had the idea to mount the Fulvia's 1.6-liter V4 engine on a new base. This is how the Stratos Zero concept car was born, a 3.58 meter (141 inches) long and just 84 cm (33 inches) tall prototype envisioned by Marcello Gandini, the same man responsible for the designs of the Lamborghini Countach and Miura.
The Fulvia's 115 hp (86 kW) V4 was centrally-mounted in a lowered position and the suspension and steering elements had to be radically redesigned due to the concept's revolutionary line.
Featuring a myriad of geometrical shapes and razor-sharp edges, the Stratos Zero also boasted a number of unconventional solutions, such as the double side windows, unique front and rear lights and access to the cabin by opening the front end of the vehicle. Basically, the driver could "walk up to the driving seat".
Steel was used as the prime material for the chassis and some body parts, combined with lightweight fiberglass panels. A small box behind the powertrain acted as a boot, while bins in the interior served as storage for helmets. It's as if someone already knew that the Stratos name would become a rally legend…
The Zero was first unveiled at the 1970 Turin Motor Show and almost instantly became a design milestone. Today it is one of Bertone's most admired projects.
By Csaba Daradics