Words don’t usually fail me, but it’s difficult to describe the noise made by the original Lancia Stratos. As we carve through the Italian Alps, there’s plenty of sheer rock for the sound to ricochet off, and when the road opens out again, a vast, mist-cloaked vista rolls out below us. The Stratos pops, bangs and farts its way along, the very essence of explosive fuel/air internal combustion, but underpinned by a thrumming six-cylinder timbre that sounds like 1974 in mechanical form. In the Car vs Mountains battle, nature usually wins. But not today. Today, nature is being kicked in the nuts.
Sunrise is almost upon us, and following this snarling little black beastie, savouring that sound as it strafes the Dolomites and devours the road, is already right up there in my catalogue of life-affirming moments. But you know what they say: you wait ages for one Lancia Stratos to come along, then two turn up at once.
Photography: Lee Brimble
This feature was first published in the November 2012 issue of Top Gear magazine