THE CAR THAT CHANGED RAL­LY­ING

Car (South Africa) - - FEATURE -

The 1972 Lan­cia Stratos brought Ital­ian su­per­car glam­our to ral­ly­ing but Lan­cia strug­gled to sell the 500 ex­am­ples re­quired for ho­molo­ga­tion. The fi­nal batch was sold un­fin­ished and it’s be­lieved that just 492 were ac­tu­ally made. That the Stratos won the 1975 and ‘76 World Cham­pi­onship of Makes, the Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship in 1976 and ’78, and helped Markku Alén to an FIA Cup for Driv­ers’ ti­tle in 1978, is only a part of this car’s al­lure, much of which piv­ots on its still-re­mark­able de­sign.

It would have won more, too, had Fiat not ended the in­ternecine war­fare cre­ated by si­mul­ta­ne­ously run­ning works Fiat Abarth and Lan­cia rally teams. One team had to go and it was Lan­cia; com­mer­cial logic dic­tat­ing that the 131 – a three-box sa­loon saved from stul­ti­fy­ing dull­ness only by its fizzing twin-cam en­gine – con­tinue to cam­paign.

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