1977 Lancia Stratos HF Group IV
- Genuine period Stratos HF Group IV
- 1979 Giro d’Italia competitor & 1980 Rallye dell’Appennino Reggiano winner!
- Huge photo-documented period competition history
- Recently engine and gearbox rebuild by Ferrari and Dino specialists, Barkaways
The Lancia Stratos HF Group IV
The Lancia Stratos was a game changer, it changed the way manufacturers considered competition and road cars. Rally regulations in the 1970’s required a manufacturer to take a mass-produced road car and turn it into a competition car. However, the Stratos was the first car designed as a competition car from the drawing board – Rally cars were never the same again.
The unique eye-catching Stratos was designed by Bertone, the styling house’s first Lancia, with its Stratos Zero concept being unveiled in 1970. Bodies were designed, and then assembled by Bertone in Turin, before being delivered to Lancia’s assembly plant in North East Turin, where the V6 double overhead camshaft engine was fitted mid-ship, with twin fuel tanks fitted either side to ensure optimum weight distribution.
Three men were instrumental to the competition success of the Stratos, Lancia team manager, Cesare Fiorio, British race and engineer Mike Parkes, and the Lancia factory rally driver, Sandro Munari. The Lancia Stratos HF Group IV claimed its first of eighteen World Rally victories at the 1974 Rallye Sanremo in its home country. The Stratos was dominant, claiming WRC victories in the hands of 1977 WRC Champion Sandro Munari, 1978 WRC Champion Markku Alén, 1979 World Rally Champion Björn Waldegård along with Jean-Claude Andruet, Bernard Darniche, Antonio Fassina and Tony Carello. Of these eighteen WRC victories, four were achieved at the Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo, often considered the most challenging of tests, five Rallye Sanremo victories were also accompanied by five Tour de Corse successes!
By the end of the 1974 season, the Lancia Stratos had claimed the World Championship for Manufacturers (at this time there was no Drivers’ championship), before repeating the achievement in 1975 and 1976, with Lancia today still remaining the worlds most successful manufacturer in the World Rally Championship with 10 Manufacturers Championship titles!
This Lancia Stratos HF Group IV
As was common with all non-factory Group IV Stratos’, this car left the Lancia factory as a HF Stradale, finished in Acrylic Blue with Avana Alcantara seats and Sereno carpets. From Bertone records we can see that the Scocca, or bodyshell, of this car was completed in January 1975, before completing production at the Lancia factory in Turin, in January 1976.
A copy of the Estratto Chronologico, which documents the Italian ownership history, accompanies this Stratos, confirming the car as having been issued its Certificate of Origin on the 19th January 1977. This car was first registered on 22nd March 1977 to Jose Orlandis Ramon, care of the local Automobile Club, and assigned the license ‘TV 360186’.
Mr Ramon had instructed University Motors to source a Stratos to upgrade to Group IV specification and compete with. University Motors was a renowned and successful race and rally preparation team, having previously prepared Stratos Group IV cars, with drivers including Fabrizio Tabaton, Antonio Carello, Attilio Bettega, Franco Cunico and the female team Isabella Bignardi and Luisa Zumelli.
When Mr Ramon purchased the car, it was still brand new with University Motors quickly upgrading it to Group IV competition specification. Upon completion of the works, Mr Ramon no longer had the funds to pay for the works, and in early 1979 the car was sold by University Motors to Francesco Ferretti and Roberto Curatolo in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Francesco Ferretti was already competing in rally events, but in order to avoid his parents learning of his activities, he used the nickname ‘Ragastas’, which means ‘naughty boy’ in Italian! For the 1979 season, Ragastas and Curatolo initially shared driving duties at several rallies, before it became clear that only one good driver was required, along with one good co-driver, not two good drivers!
Thanks to a huge and impressive collection of period images accompanying this car, we can see that for the first season in 1979, this Stratos was finished in white with the Italian flag running over the car from the front left corner, to the rear right. The left side of the car also featured a large red stripe, with the right side a green stripe, clearly a patriotic appearance.
The highlight event for the 1979 season was the Giro d’Italia Automobilistico held from the 20th - 25th October. Ragastas competed with Vittorio Cigarini as co-driver, with the event covering a large part of Northern Italy, including races at Imola, Misano, Vallelunga, Magione, Mugello, Varano and Monza. Ragastas was enjoying the new challenge offered by this Stratos, and towards the end of the event was placed fourth overall, being led only by World Rally Champions Markku Alen and Walter Rohrl in their Lancia Beta Montecarlo’s and Facetti in a Porsche 935 Turbo. Sadly, Ragastas and CIgarini dropped to finish seventh overall, still a hugely impressive result.
Prior to the 1980 season, this Stratos was re-registered in Italy and assigned a new registration ‘RE 353450’, with Ragastas continuing to regularly compete. Entering another six events, with the first podium coming at the Rallye Dei Vini – Trofeo Scaini in May, followed by a second-place finish at the inaugural Rallye della Lanterna in June, this Stratos’s first outright victory came at the Rallye dell’Appennino Reggiano in July. The 1981 season saw continued success, with another eight fruitful outings, still wearing its white, red and green paint scheme.
The final year of competition for this Group IV Lancia Stratos came in 1982, still with Ragastas driving, with Antonio Sighicelli as co-driver for seven of the eight events. The biggest change for the 1982 season was the livery of the car, now heavily sponsored by textile company ‘Blue Mirror’, creating one of the most famed privateer Stratos liveries.
Once its competition duties were complete at the end of 1982, this Stratos was purchased by Jobst Heemeyern in Germany in early 1983, before it passed to French collector and classic car dealer Jean-Jacques Bailly. As one of the leading classic car dealers, Bailly was constantly requested to sell this Stratos, eventually caving in after 17 years of ownership in 2000, selling the car to a friend, Mr Gilles, in France. The car remained in this collection for a further 10 years, being presented in the famous Alitalia works livery, before being bought back by Jean-Jacques in 2010.
After a further 5 years in the ownership of Jean-Jacques, this Stratos was sold to Englishman, John Reaks, who immediately sent the car to Ferrari and Dino restoration specialists, Barkaways in Kent. This Stratos was the recipient of a full engine and gearbox rebuild, including new pistons, crankshaft, valves etc. These works are photo-documented in a booklet accompanying this Stratos, along with detailed invoices. Further works at Barkaways included new dashboard wiring along with removing the Alitalia livery, and recreating the 1982 Blue Mirror livery, which presents fabulously today.
Since arriving in England, this Stratos has been UK registered, and assigned license ‘TJA 572R’, and upon completion of the works by Barkaways, was featured in Auto Italia Magazine in November 2016. Later, in 2018 the car was awarded its FIA historic Technical Passport. Also during his ownership, Mr Reaks arranged to travel to Italy and meet with Ragastas to discuss the car in more detail, even returning to the UK with two trophies won by this car in the hands of Ragastas! Ofcourse, these trophies still accompany 1873.
Since arriving at Girardo & Co, we have had the pleasure of using this Stratos on the open road, finding it to be impressively compliant and powerful. The car has pin-point steering, as one expects from the Lancia Stratos, along with a fabulous exhaust note, and genuine usability, we even drove it from London to Bicester Heritage for a meeting.
Today, a genuine Lancia Stratos is special, but for competition enthusiasts, the Group IV Stratos is one of the ‘must-have’ corner pieces for any collection. This car stands apart from other examples, being heavily photo-documented in period competition events over four seasons, including the 1979 Giro d’Italia. This car also benefits from a recently fully rebuilt engine and gearbox, also being presented in its period-correct ‘Blue Mirror’ livery. A truly rare opportunity to obtain a period Group IV Stratos in fabulous condition, with impressive competition history. What’s not to like?
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