Modern re-creation of '70s icon is just as fun to drive as we remember - and hugely desirable

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This is a one-off remake of the 1970 Lancia Stratos, part-developed by Pininfarina and based on the Ferrari F430 Scuderia. It’s the culmination of a 10-year dream, turned to a reality by Stratos enthusiast Chris Hrabalek, now a designer at Bugatti, and Michael Stoschek, chairman of family-owned German automotive components supplier Brose.

Hrabalek built a modern Stratos concept that was displayed at the Geneva show in 2005, the positive reaction to this spurring him and project shareholder Stoschek into attempting to find a partner that could build the car for limited production.

This Stratos is intended to be a faster, more agile drive that’s thoroughly modern, but with characteristics that echo those of the original Lancia’s

See the test pics of the new Lancia Stratos in action

That initiative eventually faltered, but Pininfarina’s recent creation of one-offs for customers enabled Hrabalek to persuade Stoschek that he should do the same, the Italian design house evolving the Hrabalek car and adapting it to receive the running gear of a Ferrari F430 Scuderia.

The Scuderia’s chassis is shortened by 20cm in the wheelbase and a roll-cage added to an aluminium sub-structure structure that’s clad in immaculately patterned exposed-weave carbonfibre. The carbon body, the shortened chassis and various weight-savings shed 80kg compared to the Scuderia, for an all up weight of 1247kg despite the additional roll-cage and air conditioning.

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The Stratos’s power-to-weight ratio is further improved by a modest power increase, taking the total to 533bhp. A mechanical diff replaces the Ferrari E-diff, and the suspension has been recalibrated to suit the altered weight and aerodynamics and Stoschek’s desire for sharper handling, while the F430’s paddle-shift F1 gearbox is retained.

This Stratos’s playful agility is a satisfyingly dominant characteristic, at least on the Paul Ricard circuit where we got to try it. It turns in with high-precision zeal, the body instantly following your steering inputs, the throttle prompting equally sharp response from the V8 motor behind you.

Within a couple of laps the tight corners uncover a car that can be steered with the throttle and flung about with the abandon of an original, forest-rampaging rally Stratos as owner Stoschek, who slides its tail with some panache, demonstrates.

He reckons there’s too much understeer in the tight turns here, but reckons that can be dialled out with set-up changes. Because it will not be sold to the mainstream public, the Stratos has been set up to be more reactive – but it’ll be less forgiving if you get it wrong.

The nimble handling and eager speed make an immediate impact, but so does the structural integrity and hugely impressive, all-of-a-piece feel of this car which is completely free of rattles and creaks. That’s some achievement in a one-off.

Also superb is the standard of finish, from the flawless carbonfibre to the just-so stitching in the Alcantara dashboard and the beautifully milled aluminium door handles. The dash panel, which recalls the original Stratos brushed aluminium instrument surround, is a pleasure to survey.

And yes, the extraordinary helmet holders of the original car are integrated into the doors, though far more neatly than they were in 1974.

The result is a characterful and utterly exhilarating car that’s hugely entertaining, painstakingly constructed and as satisfying to pore over as it is to steer. It has cost a fortune, but it’s an extraordinary achievement.

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The question is more, ‘can I buy one?’ Although the Stratos has been testing at Alfa Romeo Balocco and Ferrari’s Fiorano test tracks, and uses the Scuderia’s internals with Maranello’s approval, this is a private project, with no plans to cooperate with Fiat to commercialise it.

But the possibility of a limited run is there, the tooling for its constituent parts available and capable of producing small numbers. But right now, that decision has yet to be made.

This Stratos is unquestionably a highly desirable car, but it will also be expensive – Hrabalek reckons around £600,000, and that won’t be enough to see Stoschek turning a profit. But for the (very) well-off who remember the Stratos howling through forests more than 30 years ago, it may prove irresistible.

Lancia Stratos Concept

Price £600,000; Engine V8, 4308cc, petrol; Power 532bhp at 8200rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 3750rpm; Kerb weight 1274kg; Top speed 168mph; 0-62mph 3.3sec; Economy NA; CO2/tax band NA