Lancia’s Stratos is an incredibly special car, but more than its specialness, it’s on the bleeding edge of simplicity. In an effort to engineer the car for lightweight race car goodness, Bertone and Lancia crafted what must be the simplest and yet still most effective window mechanism I’ve ever before seen. With little more than a wing nut, the Stratos’ unorthodox window operation is infinitely adjustable, and totally infallible.
Because of the strange shape of the Stratos, there isn’t much door for the window to go down into, so a traditional vertical window channel simply wouldn’t do. With a traditional window operation, it would have run out of real estate an inch or two from the top. So, to get more of the window down into the door, enough to reach out for a rally stage time slip or something, it mounted the rear of the window glass on a pivot, and made a curved channel in the door which the front of the glass could clamp to. It’s literally one moving part, the glass.
While there are so many interesting things about the Lancia Stratos, from its rally history to its Dino-derived engine, I’m stuck admiring the windows. Perhaps because I’ve been enamored by this weird car and its amazing shape since I was quite young, I’m even more blown away by the things most would consider fairly mundane. To take a simple problem like lowering the window and turn it on its head to make something as simple as this is just testament to the creativity and genius of the designers and engineers who worked on this project.
In everything mechanical, I always look for simplicity and light weight design. In all these years, I’ve never seen anything quite so simple and lightweight as the Lancia Stratos window mechanism. Until this my peak lightweight engineering story was that Porsche crafted the 909 Bergspyder’s brake rotors out of toxic beryllium. Sorry German engineers, you’ve been usurped by the Italians.