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Above: door bins designed to accommodate helmets, just as with the original. Centre and main pic: designers had to include nodern aco into the signature Stratos shape, so New Stratos has a front splitter, side skirts and a rear diffuser to manage the airflow (the ducktail actually has a neutral effect but had to be there for the classic look). Scuderia's exhaust replaced by a bespoke Caprlsto system. Liberates an extra 20bhp, bringing peak power to 523bhp. Luca di Montezemolo signed the car after he drove it

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BORN-AGAIN ICONS: NEW STRATOS

Sccncs from the development story. Above left: Michael Stoschck, seated in the car, chccks out the packaging and ergonomics. Donor Scuderia bodywork has been peeled away to reveal the extruded aluminium platform, with the new tubular steel cockpit frame in place. Centre: just before wo-k began, the donor car is introduced to an original Stratos here in Group 4 form and classic Marlboro livery, owned by Stoschek. Far right: dynamic benchmarking included the current 911 GT3 RS as well as the Scuderia itself engineers who worked on the Scuderia set-up.

We tack into the first turn, a sharp-ish right-hander, and there's a real sense of the short whcclbasc - the car fccls so alert, so keen to change direction. Almost immediately we're into a longer, looping left. I get a strong sensation of mass muscling along just behind and I think 'Stratos'. Blimey, 30 years after the original, a new version comes along and it doesn't just look like the old one, it feels like it too!

What it doesn't feel is very fast. Maybe Max is soft-pedalling a little, fighting shy of using all the revs or being too aggressive with the throttle, this being the one and only and me being the first of many to want to experience it, but 1 was expecting a bit more of a kick. Especially as the V8 has been fitted with a Capristo high-performance exhaust system reckoned to help liberate an extra 20bhp for a healthy 523bhp, and because it has less mass to haul, too: new Stratos is 470mm longer than the original but 330mm shorter than the Scuderia and at 1270kg it weighs a significant 80kg less than the donor car too.

'You can sense the short wheelbase... the car alert, keen to change direction'

The weight of every component, down to the last nut, bolt and washer, has been reduced as far as possible, an approach that has challenged the engineers of Stoschek's own company. An unusual feature of the original Stratos that showed it was one of the first cars designed specifically for rallying was a door-bin on each side large enough to take a crash helmet. The new Stratos has them too, though rather than the simple, tilting side windows of the original, Brose engineered exceptionally lightweight electrically operated windows.

The lack of inertia in the car can certainly be felt in the way it changes tack but less so in a straight-line. Or so it seems until Max pulls back in and we swap seats. A couple of laps in,

I realise that the Stratos is going much faster than it appears when I notice that the 'pace car' that's leading me, a current 911 Carrera 2, is working its tyres really hard. It's like when you see the Merc SLS pace car being driven tidily to its limit by Bernd Maylander and then see the shocking contrast when the camera shot changes to the Formula 1 cars that are just loafing along behind.

initial observations are that the steering wheel feels quite big (it's the Scuderia's but with a flat-bottom), that the long, carbonfibre gearshift paddles from the 430 rarer feel flimsy and that the car feels solidly engineered. And the power is there all right, viciously, vocally, when you get the revs up and all the tell-tale lights embedded into the top of the steering wheel illuminate at 85(K)rpm. It's a very communicative car: through the electrically-assisted power steering you can feel the front coming under pressure as you peel into turns with enthusiasm, and when you get on the gas you can sense the mass behind becoming

Sccncs from the development story. Above left: Michael Stoschck, seated in the car, chccks out the packaging and ergonomics. Donor Scuderia bodywork has been peeled away to reveal the extruded aluminium platform, with the new tubular steel cockpit frame in place. Centre: just before wo-k began, the donor car is introduced to an original Stratos here in Group 4 form and classic Marlboro livery, owned by Stoschek. Far right: dynamic benchmarking included the current 911 GT3 RS as well as the Scuderia itself evo.co.u 061

BORN-AGAIN ICONS: NEW STRATOS

'Snap the throttle closed mid-bend and it might just pirouette. Very Stratos'

BORN-AGAIN ICONS: NEW STRATOS

Above, from left: Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo takes the wheel with Stoschek alongside; old and new Stratoses compare clamshells; the development team at Balocco

Above, from left: Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo takes the wheel with Stoschek alongside; old and new Stratoses compare clamshells; the development team at Balocco

and current 911 GT3 RS. 'Because of the short wheelbase you can change from understeer to oversteer in a snap second,' he says, but adds that the car is very adjustable, very open to suggestion: 'You can do ten laps and have ten different experiences at the same corner.' It all depends on your approach, he says, adding that it's very easy to control and that the different settings on the manettino offer distinct changes in feel. He also says it makes the Scuderia feel heavy and less responsive by comparison.

The rumour is that the car has cost around £3million to make, and before we leave, Michael Stoschek announces that there could be a limited run of 25 cars. Each might cost half a million pounds, including the donor car, but the price will depend on the exact number of the run, he says.

I don't think they will have much trouble finding that many enthusiasts. It is an astoundingly well made and beautifully engineered homage to the Stratos that brings the concept bang up to date. It would hardly matter if it wasn't a great drive but, fittingly, it feels challenging in exactly the same way that the original is, offering up all the agility you can handle but with modern safety systems if you're not up for it. It's a credit to all those involved. The Stratos lives, and how.

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