At the 1973 Tour de France Automobile, the legendary Stratos rally car secured its first international victory.
When talking about the most iconic brands in the world of rallies of the past, Lancia won't be missed out. The Italian automaker remains one of the most dominant in the sport, with 10 titles to its name before its exit in 1992, making it the most successful WRC team ever. Now, the brand is celebrating its first international victory with the Lancia Stratos at the 1973 Tour de France Automobile.
Driven by the duo Munari and Mannucci, the Stratos secured its first win at the stage 50 years ago against rivals such as the Porsche 911 and Ford Capri. The car won Lancia the Constructors' Championship three years in a row from 1974 to 1976 before Fiat ended the hat trick with the historic 131 Abarth.
With a V6 engine based on the Ferrari Dino 246's mounted behind the cockpit, the Stratos sported Alitalia's white and green colors from the 1975 racing season, said to be one of the most beautiful liveries in motorsports history.
Aside from the Stratos' rallying prowess, the design was also considered revolutionary. Inspired by the 1970 "Strato's Zero" prototype, the Stratos ran rally stages with an aerodynamic wedged-shaped body complemented by round headlights and an assertive wing. The so-called color blocking in the interior also created "continuous plays" of contrasts using primary colors of blue, red, and yellow.
The 50th anniversary was celebrated on the historic route of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, organized by the Circuit de Remparts d'Angouleme. Former Stratos driver Bernand Darniche, who won European Rally Championships in the iconic rally car, was also in attendance.
"Today we celebrate 50 years since the first victory of the Lancia Stratos, one of the most successful rally cars of all time, known to the public as 'la bête à gagner'," said Luca Napolitano, CEO of the Lancia Brand. "Together with 037 and Delta, the Lancia Stratos has become a legend in the world of rallying. But that's not all. Lancia Stratos is one of the most iconic cars in the history of the brand.
"This brutal and efficient car had essential design elements that entered the collective imaginary and guided us in the design of the future cars of Lancia: the round rear headlights, the aerodynamic shape, and the color blocking of the interior."
Lancia will return to the industry with new models previewed by the Pu+Ra HPE, an all-electric concept with elements inspired by the legendary Stratos. However, there's no word yet whether Lancia will make a re-entry to the US market, with parent company Stellantis first waiting to see if Lancia can redeem itself in the coming years.