Reader Submissions: This Ex-Jolly Club Group 4 Lancia Stratos Lives On Lake Como

This Ex-Jolly Club Group 4 Lancia Stratos Lives On Lake Como

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
January 17, 2018
6 comments

Story provided by Marco Magnani
Photography by Cristopher Ghioldi

Hello, my name is Marco Magnani, I am an Italian living in Cernobbio in the province of Como, next to the famous lake of the same name, and the car I’d like to share with my fellow enthusiasts on Petrolicious today is a 1975 Lancia Stratos in Group 4 specification. It was the rally car of the 1970s, but more than that the Stratos was a signpost of the new era of aggressive wedge-shaped sports cars that defined that decade. It was a unique car in that sense—looking every bit as exotic as the first true crop of supercars while competing in the mud and snow alongside more pedestrian-looking Escorts and the like.

So like many youths back then, I was captivated by the strange Lancia, but I had further reason for my lusting seeing as my older brother was competing in a Stratos in the Italian Group 4 Championship in period. Watching him pilot such an already impressive machine in race trim left an impression on me as I think it would anyone, and I’ve been attached to the car ever since—the fact that I’d go with my brother to the races and follow along with him and the Stratos just after obtaining my driver’s license didn’t help the matter!

His car was run by the Jolly Club team until the 1978 Italian Rally Championship, and mine is also an ex-Jolly Club Stratos. To continue the provenance, I purchased it from Carlo Facetti, the man who, along with Mike Parkes, developed the Stratos’ 24-valve version of the Dino-sourced V6 and also competed in the cars for a time. I bought it from Facetti in Milan back in 1980 when the Stratos was just out of production and nearing the end of its competitive lifespan, and the year prior to that it’d been transformed in a sense. Beginning as a Jolly Club race car, in 1979 it had been partially converted for street use, and I kept it as it came to me for a number of years before deciding it needed to be brought back to its original Jolly Club specifications.

So, in the early 2000s, I brought the Stratos on a trip for an extended stay in Biella, where Luigi Foradini would carry out the necessary work to reverse its street car modifications. He has plenty of experience preparing and restoring Stratos, and I knew it would be in good hands and come out the other side exactly as I hoped. And after some patience, it did! I had it back in my hands and it was back to the way it should be. Perfect. Even down to the livery.

The driving experience is like nothing else I’ve had, and it feels like you are very much in a prototype race car when you drive this on the street, the engine pumping noise and the scent of spent fuel into the small cabin. I take it to the occasional track event and rally celebration like the Vernasca Silver Flag, but I also enjoy driving it in local classic car rallies for a more subdued—if that’s possible—excursion. 

The Lancia Stratos represents so many things to me, and is so bound up with my formative experiences in the world of automobile racing and automobiles in general that I could see no alternative to owning one someday. I’m thankful for the opportunity to fulfill that dream, and more so for the fact that this Stratos has a racing background to remind me of the days spent cheering on my brother so many decades ago.

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Ingo Schmoldt911SCwing nutIamNotaNumberDennis Cavallino Recent comment authors
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Ingo Schmoldt
Ingo Schmoldt

Thank you Marco for sharing your story! We spent a vacation in Menaggio a few years ago and recognize the spots on a couple of your photos from our hikes in Cernobbio. If only we’d seen your (or better yet, heard) your wonderful car!

911SC
911SC

Absolute great car, even more exciting within this beautiful envirement at the lake Como and Villa D’Este. Perfect location. Interesting that this 6-cylinder-engine is perfoming in 2 other beautys but the Stratos is maybe the most thrilling of them. Always surprising: the Stratos could be a car of today! Timeless!

wing nut
wing nut

Still one of my favorite all time cars and one I hope to drive some day although I read it can be a tricky car on the limits.. Owning an original would be a dream come true but alas they have become so valuable to those that own them the prices have sky-rocketed which is fully understandable as there will never be anything like this to come our way. Bertone got it perfect right out of the box. The Group 4 as in this car, is exactly as I would want mine right down to the “coffin” wheels. Stunning in… Read more »

IamNotaNumber
IamNotaNumber

Great article , great photos , but I’d like to see more photos of the brother’s Group 4 racing Stratos if possible

Dennis Cavallino
Dennis Cavallino

Awesome car in beautiful surroundings and a nice story too. I used to spend my summer holidays in Domaso. You are a lucky guy! Ciao

Percy M
Percy M

What a beautiful car!