From the rugged and powerful Group B monsters of the 1980s to today’s sleek and aerodynamic machines, rally cars have pushed the boundaries of automotive engineering and performance. This list explores 20 of the most iconic rally cars ever.
The Lancia Stratos is an iconic rally car produced by Italian car manufacturer Lancia in the 1970s. Explicitly designed for rally racing. The Stratos featured a mid-mounted Ferrari V6 engine, lightweight fiberglass bodywork, and a short wheelbase making it incredibly nimble and agile on the rough and winding rally courses.
The Stratos won three consecutive World Rally Championships from 1974 to 1976 and is considered one of the greatest rally cars of all time.
The Audi Quattro is a legendary rally car that revolutionized the sport with its innovative four- wheel drive system. Introduced in 1980, the Quattro was the first rally car to use all-wheel drive, giving it superior grip and traction on various surfaces. This allowed the Quattro to dominate the rally scene in the 1980s, winning numerous championships and setting new standards for performance and handling.
The Quattros’ innovative technology not only transformed the sport of rally racing but also paved the way for the widespread use of all-wheel drive in high- performance vehicles across the automotive industry.
Subaru Impreza WRX STI
The Subaru Impreza WRX STI is a high-performance sports car that has been a favorite among car enthusiasts and rally drivers since its introduction in the 1990s. With its distinctive boxer engine and advanced all-wheel drive system, the WRX STI delivers exceptional performance and handling on the road and the racetrack.
The WRX STI
Known for its aggressive styling, high-performance suspension, and advanced technology, the WRX STI has earned a reputation as one of the most versatile and capable sports cars on the market.
Ford Escort RS Cosworth
The Ford Escort RS Cosworth was produced in the 1990s. With its distinctive whale tail spoiler and powerful turbocharged engine, the Escort RS Cosworth was a dominant force in rally racing, winning numerous championships and thrilling fans with its speed and agility.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Image Credit: Shutterstock The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, commonly known as the Evo is a high-performance sports car that was designed explicitly for rally racing. Based upon a family saloon, the Lancer, the Evo has virtually nothing in common with its humble family saloon cousin.
With its advanced all-wheel-drive system, powerful turbocharged engine, and advanced technology, the Evo was a dominant force in rally racing, winning numerous championships and earning a reputation as one of the most capable and versatile sports cars on the market.
Peugeot 205 T16
The Peugeot 205 T16 is a legendary rally car considered so for several reasons. First and foremost, it was an incredibly successful competition car, winning two World Rally Championships in 1985 and 1986. The car’s performance was due to its advanced technology, which included a mid-mounted engine, four-wheel drive, and advanced suspension.
Image Credit: Shutterstock The 205 T16 had a lightweight body with a mid-engine high horsepower engine, allowing it to achieve impressive speeds on the rally circuit. Combined with its unique and innovative design, has made the Peugeot 205 T16 a beloved icon of the rally racing world.
Toyota Celica GT-Four
The Toyota Celica GT-Four is a high-performance sports car introduced in 1986. It features a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive, making it a formidable competitor in the World Rally Championship.
The car’s sleek design and impressive handling have made it a a popular choice among car enthusiasts, and it remains a classic example of Toyota’s commitment to high-quality engineering and performance.
Renault 5 Turbo
Developed by Renault’s motorsport division, its design was heavily influenced by the brand’s successful rally racing cars. The car features a mid-mounted turbocharged engine, rear- wheel drive, and a lightweight body, giving it exceptional handling and performance.
The Renault 5 Turbo was a popular car in the rally racing scene and has become a beloved classic among car enthusiasts. Its unique design, thrilling driving experience, and impressive performance capabilities make it an icon of 1980s motoring.
Porsche 911 SC RS
The Porsche 911 SC RS is a limited-edition rally car produced in the mid-1980s. It was based on the 911 SC but featured a more powerful engine, upgraded suspension, and lightweight body panels.
The car was designed specifically for rally racing and was successful in numerous competitions, including the Monte Carlo Rally. With only a few dozen units produced, the Porsche 911 SC RS has become a highly sought-after collector’s item and a symbol of Porsche’s racing heritage.
Mini Cooper S
A small-bodied car that was the blueprint for all future small European cars being; small capacity front wheel drive and lightweight.
The Mini was an instant rally success delivering quick acceleration and agile handling.
The Saab 96 is a classic car known for its unique and distinctive features. One of the most notable features is the car’s aerodynamic design, which was inspired by Saab experience in aircraft manufacturing.
Other notable features include a wraparound windshield, which provides excellent visibility, and a front-wheel-drive layout, which improves traction in slippery conditions. The Saab 96 also has a reputation for being a safe and durable car, with a strong body structure and advanced safety features for its time.
Fiat 131 Abarth
It was designed for rally racing and featured a powerful 2.0-liter engine, upgraded suspension, and aerodynamic bodywork. The Fiat 131 Abarth was highly successful in competition, winning three World Rally Championships in the mid-1970s.
Image Credit: Shutterstock Its success on the rally stage, combined with its unique styling and advanced engineering, has made the Fiat 131 Abarth is a beloved classic among car enthusiasts and a symbol of Fiat's racing heritage.
Opel Manta 400
The Opel Manta 400 is a legendary rally car produced in the 1980s. It features a powerful 2.4-liter engine, rear-wheel drive, and advanced suspension, which give it exceptional handling and performance on the rally circuit.
The Opel Manta 400 was highly successful in competition, winning several races and championships throughout its career.
BMW M3 E30
The BMW M3 E30 is a high-performance sports car that was produced by BMW in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is a variant of the popular BMW 3 Series, and it features a larger engine, upgraded suspension, and other performance enhancements. The car’s styling is sporty and aggressive, with flared wheel arches and a distinctive rear spoiler.
The BMW M3 E30 was highly successful in motorsports, winning numerous races and championships, including the British Touring Car Championship and the World Touring Car Championship.
Citroen DS 21
The Citroen DS 21 is a classic French luxury car produced in the 1960s. It is known for its unique design, with a sleek and aerodynamic body, hydropneumatic suspension, and a futuristic interior.
The car’s advanced engineering and innovative features, including its semi-automatic transmission and power steering, symbolized French automotive ingenuity and avant-garde style. Not the most successful rally car but one that left an army of fans.
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus is a high-performance hatchback that was produced in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a collaboration between British carmaker Talbot and the Lotus engineering team, and it features a powerful 2.2-liter engine, upgraded suspension, and other performance enhancements.
The cars lightweight body and sporty styling make it a fun and engaging car to drive, while its success in motorsports, including the World Rally Championship, have made it a beloved classic among car enthusiasts and a symbol of British racing heritage.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA is a classic Italian sports car produced in the 1960s. It features a lightweight body and a powerful 1.6-liter engine, which gives it exceptional handling and performance on the track.
The cars sporty styling and advanced engineering, including a race-tuned suspension and upgraded brakes, have made it a beloved classic among car enthusiasts and a symbol of Alfa Romeo’s racing heritage.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a high-performance variant of the popular Volkswagen Golf hatchback. First introduced in the 1970s, the Golf GTI is known for its sporty styling, responsive handling, and powerful engine.
One of the first cars from VW on the front-wheel drive platform was a radical departure from their regular rear-wheel drive, rear-engined platform.
Extensively rallied in private hands. The humble little Beetle has achieved some success on the rally circuit. Officially entered by VW Austria as a fully supported effort in the 70’s.
The VW Beetle; is robust in design and loved by millions.
Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC 5.0
The Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC 5.0 is a luxury coupe produced in the 1970s and early 1980s. It features a powerful 5.0-liter V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, and advanced suspension, which give it exceptional handling and performance on the road.
The car’s sleek and elegant design, with its long hood and short rear deck, make it a classic example of Mercedes-Benz style and engineering.
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