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The Lancia Stratos is rightly considered as one of the greatest rally cars of all time. The origins of the design date back to a one-off concept car presented by Carrozeria Bertone at the Turin Motorshow in 1970. The ‘Stratos Zero’ concept may not have been conceived as a potential rally winner, but the widespread acclaim of the design led Lancia’s Director of Public Relations Sandro Floria and his son, Cesare, then Lancia’s rally team director, to propose using the name and design to rejuvenate Lancia’s brand with a new model to be integrated into their relaunched motorsport division. The car would therefore be built to comply with FIA Group IV regulations and homologation requirements.

In order to keep development costs down and accelerate development, off the shelf components were used with a Ferrari sourced -V6 and transaxle at its heart. Marcello Gandini’s purposeful wedge design with dramatic wrap round windscreen was shown in Turin in 1970, and a design icon was born. Rallying was integral to the design from the outset, lightweight front and rear clams with integrated mudguards provided easy access for race mechanics without sophisticated facilities, the large wraparound windscreen provided remarkable visibility, both forwards and sideways. There was little in the way of creature comforts, but the interior allowed for race helmets to be stowed in specially designed door pockets.

However, despite the promising mechanical ingredients, the accompanying motorsport success was not immediately forthcoming. Following a slow start in 1972, the new model won its first victory in 1973, but by 1974 the cars legendary status was truly secured as Sandro Munari secured the first ever WRC Drivers Championship behind the wheel of a Stratos. Italian national Group IV championship victories followed in 1976, 77, 78 and 79, alongside, World Rally Championship (WRC) Manufacturer championship wins followed in 1974, 75 and 76.

In 1979, Franco Cunico became one of the rising stars of the Italian rally world. Driving in the Trofeo A112 Abarth, he swept all before him to win 7 rallies of the 11 entered that year, not to mention 32 stage victories.

Cunico’s meteoric rise had not gone unnoticed, leading Lancia’s Rally team manager Cesare Fiorio to call Franco Cunico at the end of the season promising him his dream drive for the 1980 Italian Championship, a Lancia Stratos Group IV. The promise was not about any Stratos but about the famous 1979 World Championship Rally Sanremo winning Stratos driven by Antonio ‘Tony’ Fassina. (This is taped on video in a fascinating interview of Luca Pazielli with Franco Cunico about his 1980 season).

‘Tony’ Fassina had been masterful behind the wheel in 1979, with five outright victories in the championship, indeed wherever Fassina completed the rally, he won!
Fassina’s remarkable 1979 season is summarised below:
Please refer to our website for racing history and results: https://schaltkulisse.com/car/lancia-stratos-gr-4/

Looking back at this incredible 1979 season, Fassina’s car had apparently no registration and therefore run throughout the year with two number plates appearing, ‘TO M5 4374’ and ‘TO N1 4328’. These are legendary plates in the Lancia Works rally history, both having been used on numerous Works entries since 1976.

There has been some conjecture over the years surrounding the identity of Fassina’s 1979 Italian Championship winning car because of the different number plates. Thanks to years of meticulous research, working with period archives and first-hand testimony, the owner of this car has been able to produce an extensive dossier which casts new light on the 1979 season.

At the end of the 1978 season, Maku Alen heavily crashed the ex Munari 1976 Montecarlo winning Stratos ‘TO M5 4374’, chassis 1918, at Rally Monza. This was the last official Stratos works entry in the Rally World championship, as FIAT decided to enter the 1979 season with FIAT Abarth 131. Therefore the Stratos works-plates were no longer needed in 1979
Lancia Works records of ‘TO M5 4374’ clearly show that the plate ‘TO M5 4374’ was given to M.F.S. Maglioli for the use of Fassina in 1979. According to interviews with Walter Röhrl and Christian Geisterdörfer it might have been Cesare Fiorio´s decision that Fassina´s important semi-works entry in 1979 retained a Turin registration, even though these works number plates were officially retired by this time.

In 1979 Fassina won Rally Sanremo with the plate ‘TO M5 4374’ but for his last entry of the season, Rally Monza, plate ‘TO N1 4328’ was used on his Stratos. The same plate that had been used when Cunico took over the car at his first two entries in 1980, Rally Costa Smeralda and Rally Elba.

Cunico must have expected great things from his new Stratos. Both driver and car delivered a slew of victories and impressive stage performances throughout the 1980 season:
Please refer to our website for racing history and results: https://schaltkulisse.com/car/lancia-stratos-gr-4/

In 1980 a separate stroke of good fortune allowed Cormauto Srl, the biggest Lancia dealer at that time and sponsor of Fassina and Cunico (concessionari Lancia Italia), to resolve the administrative problem which saw them use the ex-Works plates in 1979. In order to do so they needed to apply a chassis number identity to the car.

Giampero Bagna, who´s Stratos also was prepared by Maglioli, heavily crashed his car beyond repair at Rally Monza in November 1979. It was only a small step for Cormauto Srl to acquire the scrap of Bagna´s Stratos in May 1980 and to use its documents and identity VIN 1846 to register the ex-Fassina car for Cunico’s 1980 season.

In May 1980 Cunico raced the Stratos with the ex Bagna plate “GE 704407” until its first official registration in July 1980, with the now official plate “MI 99405H” and VIN 1846.
It is important to understand that only the identity of chassis 1846 was transferred and therefore our Stratos has no material link to Bagna´s Stratos, which only inherited its identity and brought the chassis number 1846 to a second life. Roberto Angiolini, Jolly Club chef at that time, confirmed VIN 1846 is Fassina´s car which won Rally Sanremo in 1979 using the number plate ‘TO M5 4375’, in a written statement dated 1993.

After Cunico´s 1980 sesason the now registered car passed into the hands of a privateer by the name of Piero Irneri for the 1981 season. He again competed in the Italian national championship but was unable to emulate the successes of previous two years and failed to finish any of the five rallies entered:
Please refer to our website for racing history and results: https://schaltkulisse.com/car/lancia-stratos-gr-4/

With three years of competition behind it, our car embarked on its final competitive outings at the tail end of 1982, first at the Rally 100.000 Trabucchi in October with Gianfranco Ricci and Mario Amati, and then one final competitive outing at Monza in November, this time driven by Maurizio Verini and Bruno Scabini to fourth place:
Please refer to our website for racing history and results: https://schaltkulisse.com/car/lancia-stratos-gr-4/

In 1983 the car retired from competition, by this stage Group IV had been supplanted by Group B regulations, introduced in the previous year, and the Stratos as a design was ten years old.
In the years after its retirement the car remained with Cormauto Srl until it was sold to Mr Giorgio Schon in 1991, then on to Mr Bruno Genovese in 1994. During his care the car was lent to the Museo Bonfanti and in an interview from this time on Youtube Tony Fassina explains that the car displayed at the Boonfanti Museum, our Stratos, was his 1979 winning Sanremo car.

In 2015 the current owner of the car acquired it directly from Mr. Genovese, and the car left Italy for the first time in its life. Despite wearing an incorrect Sponsor livery, the car was remarkably original, bearing the marks of its exciting competition career having never been subjected to a full restoration. The current owner decided to restore the period correct Concessionari Lancia livery from Cunico’s 1980 season.

Since his acquisition the current owner carried out extensive research and interviewed many of the famous names associated with the Stratos and this car in particular. Including interviews with Gianfranco Cunico, Piero Spriano, the ‘S’ in M.F.S. Maglioli who prepared this car for Fassina and Cunico, Maurizio Verini, double championship winners Walter Röhrl & Christina Geistdörfer and Thomas Popper.

Since 2015 the car has been expertly maintained, keeping it as original as possible, with no expense spared, by Tom Fischer – Classic & Race Car Service and Udo Sparwald. Now back in its correct Rally Lana 1980 livery the car has been used and shown at the Edelweiβ Berpreis Rossfeld in 2016, at the 2018 Stratos Meeting in Bolzano, and again in 2019 in Sanremo, and then finally at Bernina Grand Turismo in 2022.

It is still in in its preserved condition and ready for the next Rally event.

Schaltkulisse GmbH
Hochstraße 21-23
82024Taufkirchen b. München

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