Ethos

The Lancia Stratos Zero Reaches the In Crowd

Zero fever is only about to get worse

For three decades following its debut, the Lancia Stratos Zero’s shine was actually a bit dim. Other than a brief cameo by a silver replica in Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalker” in 1988, this car spent most of its time quietly on display in Bertone’s museum in Caprie, Italy. Designers considered it a superstar, but to the pre-internet crowd it was an older car with extreme styling that out-Countached the then-outdated Lamborghini Countach.

Financial troubles forced Bertone to send a chunk of its cars to auction in 2011. Under private ownership for the first time, the Zero began a tour of U.S. museums, including the Petersen in Los Angeles, the High in Atlanta, Nashville’s Frist, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Buzz began to build. Old images from Benedict Redgrove’s 2004 photo shoot of Bertone studios for Wallpaper magazine began to litter Instagram. The orange streak was captured simmering under a midcentury modern porte-cochère, almost as if it knew it was destined to be a favorite among the IG crowd. Articles and photo essays began to emerge on all the wild wedge studies, spilling over into non-car-focused places. One day, a fashion IG account posted Redgrove’s interpretation of the Zero. The next, the front page of Reddit featured a famous image of the Zero navigating clogged Italian streets in 1970.

Suddenly, it was a “now” car. Designer Ken Okuyama unveiled the Kode 0 hypercar at The Quail last year during Monterey Car Week, pulling both the name and design cues from the almost 50-year-old Lancia. Lamborghini’s new Terzo Millennio concept shared studio space with a handmade scale model of the Lancia on a plinth. And Zero fever is only about to get worse: Under new ownership, the wedge appeared on “Jay Leno’s Garage” ahead of its appearance at this year’s Villa d’Este show in Italy.