Lancia Stratos court battle: father wins

In legal battles between family members it's often said that there are rarely any winners. And while we now know that the heavily publicised father versus son case over the disputed ownership of a Lancia Stratos collection has been decided in favour of the father, it has also put what could be a permanent frost on familial relations.

Worth fighting over!
Worth fighting over!
The case hinged on whether Ernst Hrabalek had loaned or given his four Lancia Stratos to his son, Chris Hrabalek, back in 2000. Ernst Hrabalek claimed that he had merely allowed his son to borrow the cars repeatedly over the last 15 years, while Chris Hrabalek believed the cars had been gifted to him.

Much as we'd like to own four Lancia Stratos, it seems a huge shame that such a dispute was allowed to go all the way to the High Court in London, which yesterday decided in favour of Ernst Hrabalek.

"Court cases are always upsetting, but ten times more so when it involves close family members," said Chris Hrabalek, in a statement issued by his solicitors, Goodman Derrick, "I am very disappointed by the outcome of the trial. This dispute between my father and me has been ongoing for over four years and has spanned three countries. The fact that the outcome was favourable to me in Austria and Germany makes this High Court ruling in England particularly hard."

And it might not be over yet - Chris Hrabalek is seeking permission to appeal the court's decision. Begging the question, from an outsider's perspective, of how much longer it will be before the costs of the legal action get close to the very considerable value of the cars in question...

In the meantime, cheer yourself up a bit by watching this again.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (45) Join the discussion on the forum

  • myhandle 22 May 2015

    Sounds like a real mess. Very pleased my Dad drives my cars and I drive his with 0% aggro. Some things EG your family are more important than cars, even ones like a Stratos.

    Edited by myhandle on Friday 22 May 12:14

  • j90gta 22 May 2015

    Are the photos of the actual cars in dispute as I thought the collection was much larger? FYI The orange one is a prototype; the green one a Stradale; the one with the wheel on the roof is in Safari Rally spec; and the last one a Group 5 Turbo.

  • Leins 22 May 2015

    Seems like madness to let something escalate to this level over a few old cars

    On the other hand, if they'd been 037s... punchshoottank

  • unsprung 22 May 2015

    And, as part of the settlement, the son must dress only in that luminous green.

  • Arsecati 22 May 2015

    Sad thing is, they would no doubt have passed on to him at some point in the future anyway, but I guess the will has been changed now. Silly boy, what difference did it make who 'owned' them? You had full use of them to do with as you pleased - unless of course they were going to be put up for sale, and I guess then it was the actual MONEY that was being disputed.

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