The sensational “New Stratos” project is back on track almost six years after the dramatic supercar recreation of the original road and rally icon quietly faded away after a long but in the end fruitless gestation period.
Today it has been announced that Manifattura Automobili Torino [MAT], a four-year-old Turinese company that realises limited production projects, will build twenty five examples of the new Stratos and the project would appear to be well on the way as the company will debut the production ready car in Geneva next month while the first delivery is set for April.
In a statement today it has been announced that: “New Stratos GbR has granted to Manifattura Automobili Torino the rights for a limited production run of 25 New Stratos.”
New Stratos GbR is the company that drove the New Stratos project and built the sole prototype. It’s owned by Michael Stoschek, the chairman of the Brose Group shareholder's meeting. Brose is the fifth-largest family-owned company among global automotive suppliers.
A keen historic rally driver, Stoschek won the Carrera Panamericana in 1999, 2001 and 2004, and the 2006 FIA European Rallye Championship, all in a 1971 Porsche 911. An example of the Lancia Stratos ‘Group 4’ has a special place amongst the historic rally cars that Stoschek employs for rallies and hillclimbs. Sporting a Marlboro design, the vehicle has been restored over more than a decade, according to the specifications of the ‘1974 Tour de Corse Andruet/Biche’ works car.
The decision to develop and build a new, production ready Stratos was inspired by a meeting with Chris Hrabalek, one of the world’s leading Stratos collectors and a passionate exponent of the iconic model, with whom Michael Stoschek became acquainted at the 1986 World Stratos meeting organized in Alta Badia by Stoschek.
Hrabalek had desired to revive the Stratos and acquired the rights to the name. Through his Fenomenon design company he presented a well-received mock up at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. Although Hrabalek tried to interest Lancia in taking on the project he would get no further; but the mock up cars received widespread attention at major motor shows and the fire had been lit. Stoschek and his son Maximilian would take over the project and in September 2008 the commissioned Pininfarina to build the car although the 1970s original was the work of Bertone.
The project was completed in November 2010 and handed over by Pininfarina to Stoschek who presented it to the media later the same month. The press would be overwhelmingly positive about the car during a test drive programme. It also received numerous accolades at the end of that year including: “Car of the Year Award 2010: 1st place, sports cars” (Classic Driver), "Best Sports Car 2011" (Top Gear) and “Coolest Cars Worldwide: 3rd place” (Autobild). It later went on to grab attention at the Frankfurt IAA in 2011.
However, the New Stratos was based on a heavily reworked Ferrari 430 Scuderia chassis and despite then Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo taking the prototype for a test drive, Maranello wouldn’t offer their blessing to the project and put the dampeners on Pininfarina's involvement.
Stoschek - who said the had received over forty prospective orders for the New Stratos - commented at the time: "Pininfarina, however, has advised us that they will only carry out construction of a limited run with the express permission of Ferrari. Despite Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s excellent assessment of the New Stratos after his test drive at Fiorano, Ferrari does not consent to construction of the planned limited run by either Pininfarina or any other Ferrari-dependent suppliers.
Given this situation, creation of additional vehicles seems possible only via companies that are not dependent on Ferrari, and appropriate contacts are being made at this time."
Although Stoschek went on to use the car in selected rallies it quickly faded from sight and the whole project was soon forgotten.
However, seven years later it has returned to consciousness with the unexpected announcement that MAT is to revive the project and build a limited run of the car.
MAT is a very little-known Italian company founded in 2014 by Paolo Garella, a former Project Manager for the New Stratos during the prototype’s build programme with Pininfarina. The Italian engineer, was previously Head of Special Projects at Pininfarina, and during his time at the helm cars such as the little Pininfarina-branded Enjoy sportscar, the luxury Rolls Royce Hyperion, the Ferrari 612 Kappa and James Glickenhaus’ historic Ferrari P4 sportscar recreation, dubbed the “Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina”, were built – as well of course as the New Stratos.
Garella would then leave Pininfarina, but would remain in Turin and found MAT. Garella explains: “In November 2014 I decided to fund my own automotive company to match the increasing demand for special projects received by my traditional and new customers.
“Manifattura Automobili Torino is located within the heart of the Torino coach building area, as a tribute to the renowned craftsmanship excellence of the Northern Italian Piedmont region,” he continues. “Today, M.A.T. is the sole car manufacturer capable of conceiving, designing, developing and building a whole new car, racing or road legal, whether starting from a blank sheet of paper or working on the evolution of any given donor car. Customers can start their project upon his unique blend of dreams and wishes.
“Commissioning a project for a one-off car to MAT means ensuring that the final result will reflect the client’s own ideas and views, his inner emotions and complex aspirations,” Garella adds. “The creation of such a handicraft is for me and my company a long and painstakingly pleasurable process. Nothing is further from a production line. Nothing is further from the routine.”
Garella rekindled his relationship with Glickenhaus after his departure from Pininfarina and MAT has developed and built the SCG003C road supercar for Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, which launched in 2015. The SCG003C has also spawned a race version which has been seen very widely in action over the last three years, including entering the Nürburgring 24 Hours. In October 2016 MAT also came to an agreement with Apollo Automobil to build the new Apollo Arrow supercarw which has evolved into the Arrow IE.
The company's reputation for extreme engineering is further burnished by building the recently announced Devel Sixteen, which is powered by a 12.3-litre four-turbo V16 engine (made from two LS V8 units) with a staggering 5,000 hp available in the most extreme version.
The press release announcing the New Stratos project offers few technical insights, but says that MAT “will guarantee the respect and the quality of the original built.” The company has also confirmed its project will once again be again based on a donor Ferrari 430.
The statement adds that: “The racing experience of [MAT] with the competence and the renowned Italian craftsmanship will ensure the quality and the high standards of the product. The car will feature a full carbon-fibre body, state-of-the-art finishing, and all the technical solutions that contributed to the success of the first New Stratos: excellent handling capabilities, lightweight design, superior balance and precision driving.”
The project also appears to be well advanced as MAT says: “The first car of this limited run is already scheduled for delivery in April 2018.” Before that it will appear on MAT’s booth at next month’s Geneva Motor Show where it will be displayed alongside an example of the original Stratos from the 1970s.
Photos: New Stratos