Handling differences between X and Stratos?

Discussion in 'Discussion Forum' started by Hasbro, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Hasbro

    Hasbro True Classic

    Danielsville, Ga
    I've always wanted to ask. I'm referring to a well set up modified road to road suspension. Rally to rally. Equally matched power, wheels, etc.. The chassis measurements are almost identical. Can an X rally set up match a Stratos? Can a Stratos road match an X? This has probably been covered years ago but I don't remember it being discussed.
  2. fastx19

    fastx19 Administrator Moderator

    Santa Clara, CA
    Well, with enough money anything is possible. However, I would look at it this way. The Stratos was developed as a race car which had to sell a couple for road use to meet rules. The X was built as a road car which people raced. Also, let's not forget who is behind the wheel as well. My personal opinion would be probably not. I don't think the X in a rally setup would match the Stratos only because the Stratos was designed for this, and the X was not.

    Reminds me of the statement about Porsche and BMW. BMW is a great street car which can be raced at the track. The Porsche is a great race car which can be driven on the street.

    What do others think?
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  3. aarpcard

    aarpcard True Classic

  4. Actually, assuming the X1/9 had the benefit of the appropriate struts and springs they might be closer than you would first think. The Stratos has a double wishbone front suspension but the rear is McPhearson struts. The X front suspension is a very good strut design and given the appropriate springs and struts it could work quite similarly to the Stratos.

    The big advantage the Stratos has is the robust spaceframe that makes the chassis very stiff and light where the X1/9 unibody is strong but heavy. Also the Stratos fiberglass body helps keep the mass between the axles and thus its lower polar moment.

    Note to that Abarth built a WRC X1/9 which performed well but was usurped by the Stratos. So, while the Stratos was likely better the X1/9 was close.
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  5. ianlawson

    ianlawson ian - NZ

    Nicely stated there, Eric!
    That certainly places each of the 2 vehicles in their designed categories!

    cheers, IanL - NZ
  6. Rupunzell

    Rupunzell Bernice Loui

    This book about the Stratos is worth the read.
    Lancia Stratos: World Champion Rally Car Hardcover – May 1, 1990, by Nigel Trow (Author)

    According this this book the Stratos had two different chassis versions, one had A-Arms with adjustable Arm to chassis points, the other Stratos Chassis had Struts. The A-Arms was used primarily on stages with mostly tarmac as the A-arm chassis was better suited to this need. On stages with mostly dirt or off road the strut chassis was used as the struts offered more wheel travel given the space limitations of the Stratos chassis.

    There are some notes from drivers that has driven both the Stratos and Abarth x1/9 rally noting the x1/9 was easier to drive and the Stratos being more difficult due to it's twitchy nature. Fiat decided there is no marketing rational to promote the X1/9 in any way. This doomed the X1/9 to remaining what it is to this day. The Stratos had a completely different goal and intent, WRC winner with few if any trade offs.

    Stratos chassis is folded sheet metal as shown in this restoration;

    This was primarily due to the chassis being built by Bertone and what was needed for their production tooling. Keep in mind, homologations required about 400 to be built.

    IMO, there is no magical chassis-suspension set up for every possible driver-road-need situation as there are so many possible variations and possibilities that can result from specific needs in each individual case. All one can do is set up the driver-chassis-tires-suspension and all to what is the best trade-off for the given situation.

    As for rear engined Porsches, tail heavy and not ideal. While this can be made to work well ultimately even Porsche had to abandon this configuration due to the very real limitations of a rear engine chassis.https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/a31703/porsche-911-rsr-frank-walliser/

    And no, the original rear engine Porsche (Speedster_356) was not a race car first then made into a road car. It was a road car then forced into race marketing promo. Keep in mind, market value of the Porsche brands is based on motorsports and winning races. This history and pedigree tends to impart a halo effect on the Porsche brand on all their offerings regardless of what might be inside the box.

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
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  7. ianlawson

    ianlawson ian - NZ

    As I recall, it was a Porsche Speedster 356 in which late-1950's film star-hero James Dean was killed when racing at a US sports car meeting "back in the day".

    cheers, IanL - NZ
  8. kmead

    kmead Old enough to know better

    James Dean’s car was a Porsche 550 called the Lil’ Bastard which reflected the handling and the incredibly complex twin cam engine which took around 20 hours to set up by a real mechanic. You know, guys not like us.

    123EF3C7-5C9B-41DB-9001-96A78C0351AD.jpeg 587D8DE6-56C9-4A13-97C3-935460E3825E.jpeg
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  9. MikeHynes

    MikeHynes True Classic

    Goodfield, IL.
    If I am correct James Dean was killed on a public road on his way to a race. Some guy ran into him and killed him. He wasn't racing when it happened.
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  10. Rupunzell

    Rupunzell Bernice Loui

    James Dean was killed in a Porsche 550 Spider. The crash has been simulated more than once and posted on youtube:

    Essentially James Dean was cut off by the driver in Detroit Iron.

    The Porsche 550 Spider is a mid-engine, swing axle special intended to be raced. It's origins goes back to the foundations of the modern race car, Auto Union Grand Prix cars of the 1930's. These were also mid-engine swing axle cars. The combination of mid engine chassis layout and swing axles made these race cars difficult to drive in too many ways. Telling is the rear suspension of the 550 Spider was revised no less than three times and the Auto Union Grand Prix cars suspensions were also revised. Ferdinand Porsche appears to have been involved with both cars. It also appears the tail happy chassis dynamic was a German ideology from that era. In time, the 550 Spider evolved to become 904, 906, 908...917-10 which was the car Mark Donahue pronounced "un-drive-able". This was the point in Porsche's history when Mark Donahue and Rodger Penske got involved with Porsche. This was when Porsche was a no-name German brand in the US of A. Penske and Donahue were tasked to promote Porsche to a race winner. There is a wonderful account of Mark Donahue at the Porsche test track trying out the Porsche 917-10 and telling the German Porsche engineers what a pile-O-pooo their car was, then proceeded to tell them how to fix it in this book:

    Know German engineers from that era NEVER had any driver tell them how to design a race car or what is wrong with their design. These comments from Donaue did not sit well with those German engineers. Eventually, Porsche, their engineers got to understand Donahue and Penske's ways which resulted in the legendary 917-30.. that is most of not all of what Donahue grew to understand about how to make a race car for the real needs of a race car driver. It was directly due to the efforts of Donahue and Penske that resulted in the Porsche Brand status of today in the US of A. The knowledge and expertise Porsche gained from working with Donahue-Penske and their crew eventually helped Porsche in endurance racing a much more.

    Keep this in mind each and every time some one toots about superior German Porsche engineering in their sports and race cars.

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  11. GregS

    GregS ProjectX

    Maybe the USA public didn't know much about Porsche before Penske-Donahue, but the rest of the world sure did. They had racing success with the models you mentioned plus all the 356 and 911 derivatives well before the 917-30 of 1973, which was only around for 1 year before it was banned.
    Many Porsches have had tricky handling at the limit, as did the Lancia Stratos, but that didn't stop them becoming highly successful racing cars.
  12. Rupunzell

    Rupunzell Bernice Loui

    Porsche 917-30 aka Mark Donahue's racer was "banned" due to a change in FIA rules. By the time 917-30 arrived on the Can-Am scene, McLaren, Chaparral (Jim Hall) and the other majors had gone leaving Porsche to have their way.

    The more notable achievement for the Donahue's 917 was the speed record at Talladega.

    Of the racer folks who won the most races in Can-Am, it would be Bruce McLaren. The real innovators were McLaren, Chaparral, to some degree Lola as they provided a good number of chassis to Can-Am. Notable is Ferrari did so poor in Can-Am overall. Ferrari's involvement with Can-Am resulted in one of the largest displacement motors they designed-built, yet it was not successful. Know Penske & Donahue ran a Ferrari early on in Can-Am with poor results due to Enzo's attitude towards American racers and their racing machines. These bits and more can be found in Pete Lyons book:

    And the previously linked book about Mark Donahue.

    Before putting the Porsche brand on such a high pedestal, know Porsche went to the French to sort out the aerodynamics of these 917 racers and what Porsche puts into these racer cars is mostly removed from their production cars. Based on personal experience of dissecting the mechanical bits inside the Porsche 911 series, I'm just not impresses with their engineering and build. There is no German Superior Engineering.

    Some motor cars that were designed and produced that had FAR more influence on the history of motoring would be:

    *Lancia Lambda (many innovations to this day).
    *Lambo Miura (resulted in the x1/9).
    *Saab Turbo (how many production cars have a turbo today).

    Worth noting, this was the beginning of the time when what was done on real race cars became more and more removed from production cars.

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  13. ianlawson

    ianlawson ian - NZ

  14. avusblue98

    avusblue98 True Classic

    Zer German engineers - reminds of the story when VW first introduced their water cooled engine in the Rabbit - the valve seals were a bad design, resulting in serious issues, and VW's engineers refused to admit there was a problem.


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