Who Needs A Dining Table When You Have The Lancia Stratos HF Zero?
Photography by Jimmy Ban
If I were to suddenly declare the Lancia Stratos HF Zero as the most iconic concept car ever I’d not only be a few decades late to the party, but most likely speaking into an echo chamber (unless you’re some sort of counter-culture automotive hipster). Opinions have been established, designs have been studied, books have been written—the word is in. In case you need a refresher, the HF Zero was a mic drop by Marcelo Gandini of Bertone in their design bakeoff with Pininfarina which led to the big bang of wedge-shaped super cars of the ’70s. Since its explosive debut, it’s been immortalized by evocative photoshoots, featured in films, restored by Bertone, and changed hands a few times.
So now you might wonder, what is the car doing in a dining room?
Well, it’s quite simple: it’s being devoured. Celebrated. Enjoyed. Appreciated. While it may look the part, it’s 1.6L V4 Fulvia-sourced engine means the Zero won’t be pulling big G-forces at Laguna Seca any time soon (though we’d love to see it try). Frankly, it’s doing exactly what it should be doing; bringing people together, just like a dining table.
Our pal and mega car enthusiast Phillip Sarofim recently acquired the Zero from longer-term ownership where the car was mostly off the radar. Every collector certainly has a right to privacy but when people like the Bruce Meyers or Jay Lenos of the world make their cars available for creative shenanigans, geeking out, or just a couple photos the automotive universe becomes that much tighter.
Now, the Zero’s appearance in the dining room was just a fun and temporary gig. Its next stop was a bit of a homecoming at Villa d’Este where it had actually never been shown. This was a significant moment considering it’s a crown jewel in the Italian design portfolio. With so many enthusiastic, talented photographers (yes, you too car spotters) and publications creating content, the digital world and Instagram were flourishing with photos and videos allowing us to relish the wedge from every possible angle and bask in all its iconoclastic glory.
Showcasing and sharing cars is far from a new idea, but in a digital-first world the idea of such sharing has an exponential upshot which makes this passion so much more accessible, addicting, and inspiring. It’s my opinion that sharing cars digitally is the most proactive thing we can do to continuously grow the hobby, though I would argue that in some respects the pre-war cars and community (by virtue of timeline) have missed the opportunity to milk benefits of digital content and interest—while ardently followed by their base, they remain niche. The bright side is that it seems the following generation have caught the digital bug (yes, I’m talking to you cool dads of Instagram) and interest in post-war car appears to be growing increasingly popular among the younger enthusiasts and those new to the hobby in general.
The Zero may have missed out on Best in Show from its Best in Class finish at Villa d’Este, but it won the vote of the “Under 16-Year-Old” category from the youngsters in charge, and to us that’s the one that truly matters when you’re in the realm of absurdly impractical shapes like this. Oh, and as a result the car will be a future prize in the video game series Gran Turismo, giving gamers a taste what it’s like to even sit in this thing, albeit digitally. The early stage of the Zero’s reemergence is a motivating case study and reminder for all of us to continue sharing our cars, whichever ones we’ve got our hands on—and if you can manage to break the Internet, go for it. We’re looking forward to the Zero’s next adventure in its perpetually interesting life. Okay, pep talk over, enjoy the rest of the photos.