Stories > Forget the Fiat 500 of the 70s - The Lancia Stratos was really cramped
Forget the Fiat 500 of the 70s - The Lancia Stratos was really cramped

Forget the Fiat 500 of the 70s - The Lancia Stratos was really cramped

Published 2022-12-27 by Peter Ternström

Twenty years ago, I was the king of SEGA Rally. And, the fastest car in the game was the Lancia Stratos. Since then, it has been one my dream car. The Lancia Stratos was the best car in the world.

But i had never seen the car in real life. Until one weekend. I was in Belgium this weekend. On the absolute best racing track in the world - Spa-Francorchamps. A track we had rented to hold the Gran Turismo Spa event.

At lunchtime it was time for me to go and refuel. And i did not choos the gas station on the track, but i took a detour instead. To the village of Stavelot, a few kilometers away. And when i stopped at the pump, i could not believe my eyes.

Next to my Black Series CLK, there stood a Lancia Stratos. It was much smaller than I imagined. Never have i seen such a small car. It was red. In running order. But it had been visibly used, and properly at that.

"I usually drive a rally with it, in the woods around my property" The elderly gentleman who owned the car explained, laughing. His buisness card said he was a Baron. And the property he mentioned was a castle near Stavelot.

Let's just sum this up. Here i am, at a random gas station. Next to me is my absolute dream car. The owner is an elderly gentleman, over 70 years old, who also loves cars. And is not afraid to use them, even if they cost half a million euros. There was only one thing to do.

"We rented Spa-Francorchamps today and tomorrow. Can you come by with your Lancia Stratos and take me for a lap around the track?" I asked, cautiously.

At ten o'clock the next day we met at the garage. Getting in the car was no problem. The door was very big. But the cockpit was absolutely the tightest one i've ever been in. Forget the Fiat 500 from the 70's. Lancia Stratos was really cramped.

I sat bent like a folding knife. In addition, the wheel arches were bulging inside, forcing your legs to the left. Furthermore, the angle of the side window meant that you couldn't sit upright. In order to not hit my head in the window and ceiling, I had to lean to the left in the passenger seat. A lot. The baron did the same, but to the right. And in the middle of the cockpit, our helmets met in what must be the most bizarre driving position ever.

I can live with the fact that my dream car is cramped. It does not have to be comfortable. But it must not be boring. Lancia Stratos was seriously fast in the 70's. The baron was a good driver. And he did not hold back. Full throttle through Eau Rouge and Radillon. Absolute insanity through Brussels and Blanchimont. But despite extremely competent driving by the owner, we were overtaken by a Renault Megane RS.

The Stratos felt cramped, old and slow. I was disappointed. The fault was only mine. I had my expectations set too high. After all, the car was as old as I was. Born in 1974. And the technology has progressed massively since then.

As a teenager, I had a blue Lamborghini Countach on the wall in my room. I will never ride in it. Because there is a risk that history will be repeated. That, by today's standards, just like the Lancia Stratos, it is also difficult to drive, and possibly even slow. I will not risk it. I want to continue worshipping the Countach.

Related

>> Join us on the Nurburgring in 2023.

>> A road trip from Florence to Maranello, Garda Lake and Cortina. Gran Turismo Italia 2023.

>> The best secret spots in Italy few tourist find.

>> 12 things to do in Italy for the hardcore Ferrari fan.

Peter Ternström
Peter Ternström
peter@granturismo.org
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