I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has ever seen the Lancia Stratos has thought, no matter how fleetingly, that they would like to drive it. If your name is Jay Leno, then you can indulge in that pleasure.
The latest car featured on Leno’s YouTube channel, this Lancia Stratos HF has seen its fair share of competition. Powered, in road-legal Stradale form, by a 190 hp Ferrari Dino 2.6-liter V6, it weighs just about 2,000 lbs.
The Stratos was primarily designed for racing and then justified as a road car later. Its racing career was one of great success, winning the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976. As a result of its rally heritage, it turned out to be a pretty fun car to drive.
Thanks to its rally gearing, every gear is designed for acceleration, giving you fun at every moment. As Leno argues, all the fun you’re likely to have in a car happens between about 40 and 110 mph, so why not make those gears as fun as possible?
Thanks to its diminutive size, the Stratos handles like a mosquito. There’s little to be said apart from “it’s a fabulous car!” The brakes are responsive and even the engine is reasonably driveable, making power where you can use it and idling happily, too. Guess it’s not always a bad idea to meet your heroes.