One of the most legendary cars from the rich pages of automotive history is al set to be reborn, as a prototype, that closely mirrors a modern day reinterpretation of the fearsome Lancia Stratos, has been caught testing in secret at Fiat's Balocco test track.

When it was first shown as a radical prototype at the Turin Motor Show in 1970 the Stratos stunned and shocked onlookers in equal measure and the rallying exploits of the production version saw it go on to enter automotive folk law. The Stratos immediately won on its rally debut following homologation and it sealed world championship titles as the Ferrari-powered sports car embarked on a half decade long winning spree and it played a key role in building the modern-day reputation of Lancia that was won on the world's most important rally tracks.

Now exactly four decades later the Stratos is set to be reborn, the original Bertone lines and thinking clearly visible and still the focal point of the project but now sharpened and updated to reflect the passage of time and the onset of a new generation of design language. All the emotive design cues that turned the Stratos into a genuine automotive icon can be clearly seen: the wheelarches cutting into the bonnet, the curved windshield and wrap-around side glass, the engine cover and features and the flip-up rear spoiler. The flush-fit new headlights are new reflecting the end of the era of pop-up units and the turn signal indicators are the latest fashion in LEDs.

The two 'spy' photographs were taken at the Fiat Group test track at Balocco near Milan on June 21 when this prototype was undergoing secret testing. Very little is known about the ambitious project but Italiaspeed has learnt that it has in fact been privately funded by a European industrialist. The trademark sloping bonnet betrays a badge recess that is of a very similar shape to Lancia's traditional emblem meaning this new sports car could well be set to carry the famous marque's name once again, which will raise the hope of Lancisti across the world, as is the fact that it has been in test action at Balocco.

2010 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed