While many would say that rallying’s glory days are over the sport is still one of the largest motorsports in the world today. It’s played host to some of the most exiting cars ever built and we’ve picked five that we think made the most impact to the sport.
The Group B era was certainly short lived, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t produce some of the greatest rally cars ever produced. Audi’s Quattro is one of the most iconic cars to grace the sport and was the first four-wheel drive rally car.
Launched in 1980 the first Quattro appeared at the 1980 Janner Rally in Austria and first ran as a pace car in 1981. The engine produced approximately 300 hp and in 1981, Michele Mouton become the first female driver to win a world rally event with the Quattro.
In response to the new Group B rules Audi introduced the A1 and A2 evolutions of the Quattro. It won its first title for the German manufacturer in 1982 and in 1983, Hannu Mikkola was the best driver with the car. In 1984 Audi took both the drivers and constructors trophies with Stig Blomqvist at the wheel. From the A1 and A2, Audi developed the Sport Quattro S1 and S2, with the most powerful making a staggering 591 hp.
Following the ban of Group B after the 1986 season, Lancia showed that it was in the best position to capitalize on the rule changes. Utilizing the Delta HF and Delta Integrale, Lancia dominated with their 2.o-litre rally car that had the best balance of all round power, weight and 4WD system. Impressively, the Lancia Delta won four driver and six manufacturer championships between 1987 and 1992, making it the car with the most number of titles.
The first version was the Delta HF 4WD, then the Delta Integrale 8v and Integrale 16v followed later. Lancia’s final version was the Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione in 1992, with the fading away from the rally scene by the mid 90’s.
Peugeot 205 T16
Another insane creation from the Group B era, the Peugeot 205 T16 only competed in two full seasons, but it certainly showed why it was one of the greatest rally cars ever produced in that short time. Appearing in 1984, the T16 won 2 manufacturers and 2 drivers titles with Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen in the cockpit. The 205 T16 ended its WRC career with 16 wins after Group B was banned.
With well over 400 hp, the Peugeot 205 T16 was one of four cars (Lancia Delta S4, Audi Quattro, Ford RS200) that set the performance standard for rally cars. The T16 was so successful the car was used to win the Paris Dakar rally, not once but twice.
The Subaru Impreza represents the modern WRC world better than perhaps any car since it was first entered. Driven by greats such as Petter Solberg, Colin McRae abd Richard Burns, the Impreza won three manufacturers’ and three driver’s titles. It all began with the Impreza 555 in 1992 and Colin McRae won the double world title in 1995. Due to a lagging economy, Subaru pulled out of the WRC in late 2008 with 46 WRC wins and six titles to the Impreza’s name.
The Ford Escort name hung around in the world of rallying for over 30 years and the car has 1 manufacturers’ title, along with 2 driver’s titles to its name. Appearing in 1968, it wasn’t until 1972 when the Escort recorded its first major wins in the 1972 International Championship for Manufacturers.
In 1975 the Escort RS1800 was introduced which scored an impressive 20 WRC wins over a couple of years. Ford’s focus was on the RS200 during the Group B era, but the Escort returned in 1993. The Escort RS Cosworth successfully competed up until 1998, racking up ten more WRC victories to the name.