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Old 01-04-2005, 02:34 AM   #51
Layla's Keeper
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Kit Review: Hasegawa 1:24th scale Lancia Stratos HF Stradale

When you talk rally these days, the hot buzz is all around all-wheel drive turbo compacts like the Subaru WRX or Peugeot 307. These little rockets tear through stages with electronic wizardry controlling the diffs and complex transmissions selecting the gears. They've allowed drivers to conquer gravel and laugh at tarmac.

However, when the topic comes up of the world's top rally car, the title falls back to a stumpy Bertone bodied wedge with a Ferrari V6; the Lancia Stratos.

Weighing in at a scant 2,160lbs, and only 12ft, 2in from its needle-sharp nose to the tip of its tail spoiler (that's a full 10 inches shorter than a MIATA, folks) the Lancia was a tiny missle locked onto destroying the twists and turns of the Monte Carlo. And after a difficult gestation (the car originally housed a Lancia Fulvia V4) and a brief production run of only 400 cars, the Stratos did just that taking four out of five wins in the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally from 1975 to 1979.

Thanks to its rally winning ways (and the fact that it was no slouch itself) the Stratos street car became an instant collectable that became the archetype of the low production rally special and laid the groundwork for Lancia rally domination with such other instant classics as the O37, the S4, and the Delta Integrale.

Being a fan of rallying, Lancia, Ferrari, and wild looking classic sports cars, there was a lot of anticipation going into this kit. I admit to having been disappointed in my previous experience with a Hasegawa kit (the previously reviewed Lancer Evolution VI) but keeping an open mind I slit the shrink wrap and dove into this new release.

Boy am I glad I did.

Though a modified reissue based on their Group 4 spec rally Stratos, Hasegawa does the subject matter proud by making ALL of the proper modifications to the tool to give the oppurtunity to build a really good curbside street Stratos.

The first pleasant surprise is the chassis. Detail abounds here, especially at the complex rear end. An engraved four piece "block" takes the place of an engine, and with a little paint detailing it hides the kit's curbside status fairly well. That's important, too, because the rear end is highly visible thanks to the Stratos's naturally tall stance. Every little structural rod is separate, and assembly of the rear superstructure is a little daunting, but with a little patience it all aligns together very well.

I will say this, though. The exposed muffler and shield piece is overly fiddly and its mounting point is a little vague. Be sure to use the "header pipes" as a guide to aligning the muffler on its mounts. Otherwise the 10 piece rear suspension is a class act.

Ditto for the 10 piece front suspension. Thanks to some very well thought out locator pins, the separate upper control arms and coil-overs of the front end slot in with ease and sit level. It's almost a shame that the dramatic tilt front and rear ends of the Stratos don't make it into this curbside kit, because the detail that is here is superb.

One thing in the front end does give me a pause. The blank for the trunk space - which is visible through the body's open vent work on the nose - contains a molded replica of the RALLY car's spare wheel. The painting instructions for this piece are thorough and there's even a decal for the center hub, but it's a gaffe that betrays the tons of effort Hasegawa put into making this a good street Stratos.

The interior is a great example of this effort. It pays that the road car and the rally car were equally spartan, but even still a completely new two piece dashboard with decals for ALL instrumentation (and very legible decals, too), brand new seats with good upholstery engraving, a new shifter, and new door panels with separate map pockets make for a really complete transformation. Personal favorite detail? Tough choice, but it has to be the awesome metal transfer for the rear view mirror face.

But the best assembly in the whole kit has to be the body. Between the metal transfers, decals, and the 25(!) tiny detail pieces, plus the option of popped up headlights if you want, this body stands out as one phenomeonal way to occupy 6 inches of your desk. You'll have to be careful painting the tiny clear turn signals their multiple colors, and the single windshield wiper is a little tough to align on the wraparound windshield, but otherwise assembly is trouble-free.

You'll still spend a bit of time cleaning up mold lines, admittedly. A one-piece body with this many compound curves really makes it unavoidable.

And to help guide you when building your Lancia Stratos, Hasegawa kindly provides a color guide for production Stratoses that covers the available colors, the mix ratios to achieve their equivalents with Gunze Sangyo paints, AND an interior color cross reference chart.

Please, for heaven's sake, DON'T build the lime green Stratos with light green interior! It's absolutely correct, but damned hideous.

And for the kicker, in keeping with Hasegawa's fine rally-to-street kit tradition, almost ALL of the rally Stratos parts including the awesome five spoke mag wheels, the night stage light rack, the racing seats, steering wheel, shifter, dashboard, side mirrors, skidplates, AND fire extinguisher are all present and accounted for. It makes for some awesome kitbashing without having to buy another Hasegawa Stratos, or a great stockpile for your parts box.

It's hard to say really what makes the Hasegawa Lancia Stratos such a good build, but it has to be in the little things they get right. The parts have very thin and tiny connectors to the trees, making them easy to remove cleanly and clean up before assembly. There isn't any corner cutting when it comes to detail, and the accuracy is there at every corner. Flourishes like the spare parts, the metal transfers, and the copious decal sheet only sweeten the pot.

At $35 at your local hobby shop, it's a fair chunk of change to plop down for a single model kit. But if you love rally cars, love classic exotics, and love well-detailed, fun to assemble kits, then you owe it to yourself to find and grab Hasegawa's Lancia Stratos. It's really that good.

Accuracy: 2.75/3
Fit&Finish: 2/2
Detail: 1.25/1.5
Options: 1.5/1.5
Value: 2/2
Final Verdict: 9.5/10
Proud Owner/Operator of Haven Raceway and Hobby!
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