Throughout the last century, the automotive world has blessed us with some truly amazing concepts as evidenced in our weekly Concept We Forgot series. Without a shadow of a doubt, the Lancia Stratos HF Zero is a prime example of the remarkable projects talented designers can create when given the freedom to go all out. Since Bertone didn’t have to worry about making the vehicle feasible for production, that opened up a world of opportunities for the Italian design house to create a veritable show-stopper. And that it did.
Unveiled on October 28, 1970, the Lancia Stratos HF Zero penned by none other than Marcello Gandini was a sensation from day one. Some 48 years later, it’s still an attention-grabber as evidenced by this video shot last weekend during the 2018 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Don’t let the start of the clip showing three folks pushing the wedge-shaped concept trick you into believing this is merely a showcar.
It was developed from day one to be more than just a fashion statement as the idea was to design and engineer a fully functional prototype. Later in the video, we can see it moving under its own power while providing an appealing soundtrack thanks to its 1.6-liter V4 engine from underneath that spectacular engine cover shaped like a triangle. It’s worth mentioning the Stratos HF Zero was fully restored in 2000, and as you can see, it’s still in excellent condition nearly two decades later.
A lot of things can be said about the concept, from its lack of conventional doors, very low ride height (just 33 inches / 84 centimeters tall), and a flip-up windscreen granting access inside what looks to be a very cramped cabin. Originally called “Stratolimite” (“limit of the stratosphere”) by Nuccio Bertone, the Stratos HF Zero came into being as Bertone’s attempt to create the lowest car possible – making Pininfarina’s Ferrari 512S Modulo (36.8 inches / 93.5 cm) revealed the same year seem quite tall all of the sudden.
In 2011, RM Sotheby’s sold the Lancia Stratos HF Zero at the same Villa D’Este for €761,600, which in today’s money works out to approximately $884,110.
It’s worth mentioning the Zero wasn’t the only concept car to bear the legendary “Stratos” name as in 2001 Turin-based Stola design studio unveiled the S81 nicknamed “Stratos.” Designed by the same Marcello Gandini to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1971 HF Prototype, the S81 was only a fullsize clay model.
As a final note, the “Stratos” moniker made the headlines earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show where Manifattura Automobili Torino brought the “New Stratos,” a Ferrari 430 Scuderia-based modern interpretation available for more than $600,000 plus the donor car.
Video: Automotive Mike / YouTube