Safari Stratos - The King Of Africa

At the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed one car stood out to us more than any, the Safari Stratos! Not much can describe the sound made by the V6 Dino power plant as it blasted its way around the Rally Stage. To say the car was on song would be an understatement, it was like Pavarotti playing to his home town.


It is really astonishing how much effort the Italian squad put into the development for only one round of the World Championship. On the rear spoiler of the car is what some people would call a small aerial but in reality it's a very cleaver way of keeping the African dust out of the engine bay. When the car kicks up the dust an electric spark is sent to make sure no dust lingers in the engine bay. Even if some dust finds its way into the engine eight small flaps on top of the Carburettor air intake duct, open to allow the dust to exit and not clog up the Carburettor. This is just one of the ways Lancia innovated to gain an advantage over its competitors especially on an event that was poorly attended by the rivalling manufactures.  


Due to the very high stage mileage often in a whole variety of conditions found on the Safari Rally, additional parts were added to the car. One of the most recognisable of these is the roof mounted tire rack which allowed the Stratos to carry a total of two spare wheels to cater for the rough roads. In replacement of the passenger side mirror is an additional Carello spot light to help guide the cars through the intense dust clouds and dark nights on the Safari Rally. There was also two Dust Receptacles located behind the engine to collect the Kenyan dust. One of the more noticeable features is the Bull bars that are found on the exterior of the car in order to project vital components that could be damaged if the car was to have an accident.


Today the car was restored to its 1976 Safari specification as driven by Bjorn Waldegard. Complete with its Safari spec suspension allowing a size of travel that was not possible for any of Lancia's competitors. The car was run by its owner David Hanman with assistance from Lancia/Abarth specialists, GTO Tech to allow a smooth running of the car over the Festival. Rob Johnston from RMS Classics was on hand to dance the Stratos in spectacular fashion around the stage to entertain the crowds and entertain them he did. Other than a slight issue with the brake master cylinder briefly locking the rear wheels which was fixed with a small tap, the car ran faultlessly for the entirety of the festival and handled the stage perfectly. The team had nothing but praise for the cars instant throttle response and how the car handled the notoriously slippery and rough limestone stage.


This car TO N12661 carried a number of plates throughout its career but mainly had one star driver, Bjorn Waldegard. He first used the car on the 1975 Sanremo Rally before delivering a special performance around the UK forests on the RAC. After a slight incident the rear clamshell was removed allowing the engine to be exposed to the elements. This brought exclusion to the Lancia squad and ironically the car that went on to win the 1975 RAC Rally with Timo Mäkinen at the wheel had its paddock spot right next to the Stratos. The car was then used by Lele Pinto at the Rally Alpi Orientali to finish 4th place. Back in action with Waldegard in 1976 at the Mont Carlo, Sweden, Acropolis, Safari and the Italians home event, the Sanremo. The car was also used on the 1977 Safari Rally with Kenyan driver Robin Ulyate but retired after engine issues. Back in action in 1978, but in Group 5 specification and painted in the Pirelli colours for the 1978 Giro d'Italia driven by Markku Alen, Giorgio Pianta and Ilkka Kivimäki to First place overall. The car returned for the 1979 Giro d’Italia but with Darniche, Cheever and Mahé.