Styled by the Lamborghini Countach and Citroën BX designer Marcello Gandini when working for Nuccio Bertone, the Stratos Zero was created in secret, using the mechanicals of a crashed Lancia Fulvia that Bertone had acquired. The wild concept used the Fulvia’s compact V4 motor, mid-mounted in the ultra-low and small driveable prototype.
With Lancia totally unaware of Bertone’s work on the Fulvia-powered Stratos – and with Bertone having had no working relationship with Lancia – legend has it that ahead of unveiling his astonishing Stratos concept at the 1970 Turin Salone, Nuccio drove the car unannounced to Lancia’s HQ, driving the prototype directly underneath the closed security barriers into the main parking area where the key personnel would see the car.
His cunning plan worked, as Bertone was later contracted to design and build the Lancia Stratos ‘production’ rally car that we all know and love. Unlike that dominant Dino V6-powered rally weapon, the one-off 1970 Stratos Zero concept, as displayed at Retromobile, featured outrageous and impractical ‘dream car’ looks to gain publicity for Bertone throughout the world. It worked!
Access to the Lancia’s tiny cockpit is through the car’s windscreen, via a top-hinged canopy, with entry made (marginally) easier by a collapsible steering column, plus a rubber mat at the front to wipe your feet on on the way in! The mid-mounted Fulvia V4 engine can be accessed through a side-hinged vented triangular ‘bonnet’.
Quite the car, and thankfully its current owner, who bought the car for €761,000 at auction in 2011, likes to keep the car out and about, hence its most recent appearance at Retromobile. Whoever you are, we thank you.