Elite automakers were waging a ”wedge war” in the early 1970s, trying to prove who could create the car with the lowest standing height. In 1970, Ferrari introduced the 512 S Modulo. The same year Lancia introduced the Stratos HF Zero with an astonishingly low height of just 33 inches, beating Ferrari by 3 13/16 of an inch.
The Lancia Stratos HF Zero, designed by Carrozzeria Bertone, debuted at the 1970 Salone dell’automobile di Torino. While the debut was a few months later than that of the 512 S Modulo, it created quite a stir. The world agreed that designers Marcello Gandini and Nuccio Bertone had outdone Ferrari in stunning fashion.
The Zero’s low stance is complimented by several design innovations. A car seeking aerodynamic perfection should not have doors, so the entire Perspex windshield moved forward hydraulically to offer access to the passenger cabin. The steering wheel moves forward in concert with the windshield to offer passengers access to the seats that are located between the front wheels. The location of the seats and the meager stance of the vehicle make it nearly impossible to see in any directions other than up and forward. The extreme design of the Lacia Stratos HF Zero is more reminiscent of a Star Wars prop than a drivable automobile.
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