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Top Five Rally Cars Of All Time

The history of the rally car is punctuated by a handful of stand-out automobiles, which together tell the thrilling story of a sport which is still evolving to this day. We thought we’d make things difficult for ourselves and whittle the group down to just five – so here, in roughly chronological order, are our Top Five Rally Cars Of All Time.

SAAB 96 – The Old Guard

The Saab 96 is the oldest contender on our list, but don’t be fooled by its age – this was an extremely influential rally car in its day. The 96 racked up a impressive number of wins in the early Sixties, claiming victory twice at the Monte Carlo Rally and three times at the British Rally. It boasted legendary names behind the wheel from Carl Orrenius, Simo Lampinen and Per Eklund to Tom Trana, Pat Moss-Carlsson and of course the indomitable Stig Blomqvist. Whichever way you like at it, the Swedes played a blinder with this one.

MINI COOPER – The Little Guy

As everyone knows, good things more often than not come in small packages, and the Mini Cooper is certainly no exception. Harbouring its very own David-and-Goliath complex, this tiny tearaway notched up more than twenty-five competitive victories in the mid-Sixties, putting many of the more heavyweight rally car brands to shame. Although operating at only 70bhp, the Cooper benefitted from precise handling and a quite staggering nimbleness around corners, helping it to out-pace intimidating opponents from Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Porsche and more. During its heyday, only a questionable lighting technicality in ’66 robbed the Mini Cooper of three consecutive Monte Carlo wins. Plucky upstart? Maybe. Giant killer? Absolutely.

LANCIA STRATOS – The Born Winner

When you consider the origins of the Lancia Stratos, in many ways it’s not surprising that it went on to win so many races. It was built to win, designed from scratch purely for the purpose of rallying. As a result, it boasted many of the necessary features for a true track champion – remarkably light at just 1000kgs (thanks to its fibreglass body), seductively powerful (250bhp) and possessed of an extra-wide stance that gave it a vital edge on tight corners. Unsurprisingly, the Lancia’s specs made it something of a nightmare to drive, but this didn’t stop its drivers racking up a bevvy of championship titles. And finally, while looks aren’t everything, if they were then the Stratos would take home all the prizes – it looked like some kind of barmy, futuristic wheeled rocket.

AUDI QUATTRO – The Revolutionary

The 1980s were an exciting and tumultuous era for rally driving, and the Audi Quattro was right there at the beginning, tearing up the dust. In fact, many consider the Quattro to have effectively revolutionised the entire sport, as when it first hit the scene in 1981 its full-time all-wheel drive – a feature none of its contemporaries had – gave it a massive advantage on difficult terrain, crucially meaning its 400+ horsepower engine didn’t go to waste. Plenty of copycat models followed, of course, but the Quattro remained the original and best for several years. It set standards, and it set them high.

SUBARU IMPREZA – The Modern Classic

It’s fitting that the Subaru Impreza – which won a slew of races in the Nineties and Noughties – is synonymous with Colin McRae, Britain’s most successful rally driver. Both were born champions, and both are still major icons of the sport. There was nothing particularly flashy about the look of the Impreza, but then this was a car that prioritised substance over style, making the most of its 300bhp, flat four engine and four-wheel drive to help secure victories for both McRae and Spanish champion Carlos Sainz.

Feeling inspired by these classic motors to give it a go yourself? Click on the link to check out our rally cars for sale.