FROM A DISTANCE, the Stradale looks vaguely like a vintage Le Mans racecar - low and wide. This is as hardcore as they come; nothing less would be expected of Dallara, a company that builds racecars. However, this road legal, 155,000 Euro (AUD$250,000 estimate) racer has number plates and demands to be taken seriously on-road.
Hopping into the Dallara - and yes, you hop because there are no doors or roof - you immediately realise youíre in something serious. While the pedal box and steering column are adjustable in reach, the one-size-fits-all seat is fixed. This is a serious bit of kit with no advanced safety systems or modern luxuries. However, youíre still probably wondering what it is.
For decades Dallara has been processing carbon fibre like other makers have shaped steel or aluminium. So, this track-tested, lightweight construction technique results in an 855kg kerb weight. That becomes more significant when you realise the Stradale isnít short on power from its Ford-sourced EcoBoost 2.3-litre four pot. Rated at 295kW, itís no slouch and ties in well with either a six-speed manual or an automated six-speeder, which adds 40kg to the tally.
Want more numbers? The dash to 100km/h passes in 3.25 seconds, while in-gear acceleration is strong with 80-120km/h (fifth gear) taking 3.49sec and 100 to 200km/h 8.5sec.
Itíll go on to reach a top speed of 282km/h and can stop from 100km/h in just 31 metres. Get on track for some hard cornering and youíll be pulling in excess of 2.0g - better toughen up those neck muscles. Again, this is a racer for the road. But unlike the Ariel Atom, you can option in a T-top glass canopy, single-arm wiper and airconditioning for a cost.
Delivering peak power at 6200rpm, the boosted, mid-mounted 16-valverís throttle response is brisk, but not Ferrari-like instant. The soundtrack can be felt as an almost physical swoosh, like a bullet piercing the perimeter of a wind tunnel. Turbo lag can be an issue when low revs encounter a tall gear and its general willingness to rev seems to be left wanting. The engine spreads a useful 500Nm from 3000-5000rpm, thereby affording an unexpectedly relaxed personality. However, as the aforementioned numbers suggest, the Stradale is no slouch in a straight line - or in corners.
Shod with sticky Pirelli Trofeo R semi-slicks (235/40 R18 front and 255/30 R19 rear), the road-biased Dallara has the tyre grip to match the aerodynamics. There is a massive amount of lateral grip and directional stability, the latter down to the wizardry needed to channel air under, over and alongside the car. It also travels through it via a pair of nasal scoops and tubular ducts incorporating inverted gurney flaps. And when optioned with the full-size rear spoiler, the Stradale creates an amazing 820kg of negative lift near its 282km/h top speed.
Before I go out on track, the drivemode selector is put into Sport for maximum grunt, ultra-fast gear shifts, the firmest damper setting and minimum ESP interference. With a mighty torque wedge resting under my right hoof, the Stradale creates massive forward motion effortlessly.
Thanks to the super-glue roadholding, you can even entertain a full-throttle mid-corner upshift. Itís predictable, and due to the light weight, you donít need to hug apexes and clip kerbs to get the best out of it. With ample grip, the Dallara fires out of apexes as tenaciously as it enters them - itís an addictive rush where you donít need to go all out to get the most reward.
One area where the Stradale nails it is the sublime steering. It goes without power assistance, variable-rate calibration and artificial add-ons to be back-to-basics perfection. Itís precise, quick, and communicative, relaying the exact amount of feedback needed. This steering beats anything else out there. It fits Dallaraís philosophy which waives carbon-ceramic brakes, active anti-roll bars and dynamic drivetrain mounts.
Dallara plans to build 650 cars within a five-year period. Thereís already a waiting list. The Stradale might be a niche within a niche, but there is a market for this open-air machine from Northern Italy. Itís a nonconformist, emotional and devastatingly rapid purchase that, when viewed as a road-registered toy, wonít disappoint.