One of the most exciting automotive projects of recent years, the stunning remake of Lancia’s legendary Stratos supercar, has been quietly shelved as Ferrari appears to have put a firm block on any chance of production.


Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo (in cockpit with Michael Stoschek) actually tried the New Stratos for himself at the Fiorano test track in November 2010.

One of the most exciting automotive projects of recent years, the stunning remake of Lancia’s legendary Stratos supercar, has been quietly shelved as Ferrari appears to have put a firm block on any chance of production.

The project, the bold dream of German auto components magnate and rally enthusiast Michael Stoschek, was as dramatic in the flesh as the original images suggested – so dramatic, in fact, it appears to have fallen foul of Ferrari’s CEO. Using Ferrari’s 430 Scuderia as a donor car, the shortened, lightened chassis was thoroughly reworked in every area to form the base for the New Stratos, and the same applied to the car’s 4.3-litre V8 engine. The project touted a power-to-weight ratio of less than 2.3 kg/hp, with a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 3.3 seconds and 0-200 km/h clocked in just 9.7 seconds.

Earlier on, it appeared the New Stratos had received the implicit blessing of Ferrari, with President Luca Montezemolo personally experiencing the New Stratos at the company’s Fiorano test track. With the project having been handled from its inception by Pininfarina, the long-time hand behind Maranello’s sports car lineage, it seemed progress was building towards a limited production run – around 50 individuals were said to have expressed interest in purchasing an example, despite a price tag in the region of half-a-million euros.

Unfortunately, the degree of performance extracted from the purpose-built car, combined with handling meticulously honed with the expertise of former F1 driver Tiago Monteiro, appears to have shaken Ferrari’s top management, with a statement posted on the project’s website citing interference from Ferrari as the reason why a production run could not be arranged.

“This decision stems from Ferrari CEO Dr. Amedeo Felisa’s opposition to the production of any further vehicles by companies that work with Ferrari,” it states. “As readers of this are no doubt aware, the body of the New Stratos is built on a shortened Ferrari 360 or 430 chassis – meaning it presents absolutely no competition to the current 458.” It should be noted, however, that Stoschek’s creation had been touted as a car that had outperformed peers such as the aforementioned 458 Italia, Lamborghini’s Gallardo Superleggera and Porsche 911 GT3 RS in back-to-back tests.

With Pininfarina still struggling to achieve financial viability, there is, on the face of it, little reason for them to have turned down any high-value engineering opportunities, so the likelihood is that the company received external pressure. On top of the urgent need for revenue, Pininfarina has been shorn of all its traditional contract manufacturing operations; this division had entered into a string of ill-judged ventures in the middle of the last decade that racked up a debt mountain and brought the famous Turinese design and engineering concern to its financial knees. Building the New Stratos would have demonstrated that Pininfarina still retained the ability to carry out potential game-changing niche projects, and with the car attracting a huge amount of international attention, it could have turned into a halo project that brought the company much global prestige.

With strong interest in a New Stratos production run, and the Pininfarina route now reportedly blocked, Stoschek tried to find a company outside Italy – one well away from the reaches of Ferrari’s perceived influence – to build the supercar in a limited run, still using the 360/430 as a donor vehicle.

However, in a statement on his website, Stoschek says he was unable to unpick the project from Pininfarina, such was the coachbuilder’s integral involvement, having developed the New Stratos project from the ground up. “Throughout the past year, we conducted negotiations with several different low-volume manufacturers outside Italy,” continues the statement. “We were forced to conclude that it’s virtually impossible to transfer to other companies the know-how garnered at Pininfarina during the construction of our model. While the chassis and body data exist in CAD files in their entirety, there are countless details relating to the assembly and finishing that remain solely in the minds of a number of highly-qualified individuals at Pininfarina.”

The car’s cause was not helped by the failure of Lancia management to grasp the marketing opportunity sitting before them. Despite enthusiasm from the project’s backers for official Lancia involvement, former brand CEO Olivier François revealed in an interview last May that there was no interest in using the New Stratos to increase the brand’s visibility. He argued the car was too far removed from the brand’s current lineup and raised expectations the brand could not fulfil. However, this argument sidesteps the fact the original Stratos likewise bore effectively no relation to Lancia’s regular production cars of the 1970s. It was effectively a homologation special, an indulgence Lancia was allowed only on the understanding it swept the board in international rallying – a task it succeeded at spectacularly. Yet despite the small number of roadgoing versions built, they acted as a high-profile beacon for the brand, and are still extremely well-remembered today as one of Lancia’s most famous models.

While Stoschek has been a real stickler for adherence to history with this reinterpretation of the original – even down to details such as recreating the original icon’s helmet pockets – the story does have a neat, albeit sad, parallel with history. When Lancia, after equipping the prototype Stratos with a variety of alternative powerplants, decided that Ferrari’s powerful Dino V6 was the best possible choice if it was to become a rally winner, its desires fell on deaf ears at Maranello. On that occasion, it took persuasion from the highest levels of Fiat management, up to and including Gianni Agnelli, to secure a supply of engines, and not before Lancia had threatened to equip the Stratos with the 4.7-litre V8 from the Maserati Bora. Without any official backing or interest from Lancia towards the new project, it was perhaps inevitable that Stoschek was always going to find it difficult for Maranello to acquiesce to the arrival on the scene of a potential home-grown Ferrari-beater.

ItaliaspeedTV: Michael Stoschek and Dieter Hawranke (New Stratos) Sachsenrallye 2011

Support Italiaspeed


© 2012 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed