best rally cars of all time guide

The Greatest: The Best Rally Cars Of All Time

The FIA World Rally Championship has a few different ages since its inception in 1973. Therefore, with varying types of rally cars, each period of WRC has its own more or less popular cars. However, many of them became iconic, a part of racing folklore.  

best rally cars of all time Alpine A110 Berlinette coupé

The Firsts: Lancia Stratos HF and Alpine A110 Berlinette Berlinette 

The First Rally Car: Alpine A110 Berlinette coupé

Renault had sponsored small-volume sports car maker Alpine to adapt their little A110 Berlinette coupé into a sporting speed monster. That is how the world revealed the first rally car – the Alpine A110. With a top speed of 130 mph (210 kph) it took the first manufacturer’s world championship title in 1973.

Lancia Stratos HF: The Rally Born 

lancia stratos hf guide on best rally cars

However, the sense of rallying was born when Lancia presented the Bertone-designed Stratos HF prototype at the Turin Motor Show in 1971. Ferrari V6-powered Lancia accelerated a 0-60 time of 7 seconds, reaching a top speed of 143mph.  

Introduced in 1973, the Stratos HF started its winning way fast. It won the Rally Championships titles from 1974 to 1976.

Stratos HF took the title three years in a row and is widely regarded as one of the most iconic rally cars of all time. Moreover, this powerful, speedy monster set the standard for rally cars ahead of time.

Lancia Stratos best rally cars
Audi Sport Quattro S1 rally car

The Pioneers: Audi Sport Quattro S1 and Ford RS200 Evolution

In the mid-1980s, two rally cars emerged as pioneers of their time, setting new standards in performance and technology. 

The Audi Sport Quattro S1 and the Ford RS200 Evolution pushed the boundaries of what was possible in rally racing.

Audi Sport Quattro S1 rally car

1985 Audi Sport Quattro S1: To Change a Game

The Audi Sport Quattro S1 rally car changed the game in 1985. It revolutionized the sport because the vehicle had an innovative that time four-wheel-drive system, and turbocharged engine. With a power output of 540 bhp and a top speed of over 190 mph, the Quattro S1 became a force to be reckoned with on the rally stages. It dominated the competition, winning 23 rallies in just six years and securing two drivers’ and two constructors’ championships.

Besides, one of the best female rally drivers, legendary Michèle Mouton, won the Pikes Peak International in 1985 at the Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 wheel, setting a record time.

Ford RS200 Evolution one of the best rally cars ever

1986 Ford RS200 Evolution: A Technological Marvel

The Ford RS200 Evolution, born out of the Group B era. With a mid-mounted turbocharged 1.8-liter engine producing 444 bhp, the RS200 Evolution was a true powerhouse on the stages. Despite its short-lived WRC career, the RS200 Evolution left a lasting impact.

best wrc cars subaru impreza

The Legends: Subaru Impreza S3 WRC and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV

The late 1990s witnessed a fierce rivalry between two Japanese manufacturers, Subaru and Mitsubishi. The Subaru Impreza S3 WRC and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV became the darlings of rally fans worldwide. Thanks to their iconic liveries and legendary drivers.

best wrc cars subaru impreza

1997 Subaru Impreza S3 WRC: A Blue and Gold Legend

The Subaru Impreza S3 WRC, clad in its distinctive blue and gold livery, captured the hearts of rally fans. With drivers like Colin McRae, Richard Burns, and Petter Solberg behind the wheel, the Impreza S3 WRC brought home six WRC titles in just eight years! Perhaps the secret was in its all-wheel-drive system and turbocharged engine, resulting Impreza S3 WRC being unstoppable on all surfaces, from gravel to tarmac.

1996 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV Rally Car

1997 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV: The Makinen Era

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV, driven by the legendary Tommi Makinen, dominated the rally scene in the late 1990s. Makinen clinched four consecutive drivers’ titles from 1996 to 1999, with the Lancer Evolution IV as his weapon of choice. With a top speed of 112 mph (180 kph), Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV is considered one of the best rally cars of all time.

best rally cars guide Ford Escort RS1800

The Classics: Ford Escort RS1800 and Fiat 131 Abarth

Before the era of advanced technology and aerodynamics, two classic rally cars, the Ford Escort RS1800, and the Fiat 131 Abarth, were captured with their raw power and iconic designs.

best rally cars guide Ford Escort RS1800

1975 Ford Escort RS1800: A Rally Legend

The Ford Escort RS1800, introduced in 1975, became an instant icon of rally racing. With its lightweight construction, rear-wheel drive, and powerful Cosworth engine, the Escort RS1800 made 0-60 mph (96.6 kph) less than 9.00 secs and may reach 114 mph (184 kph).

It secured numerous victories, including the coveted WRC title in 1979, making it one of its era’s most successful rally cars.

Fiat 131 Abarth best rally cars guide

1976 Fiat 131 Abarth: The Italian Stallion

The Fiat 131 Abarth, born out of the legendary collaboration between Fiat and Abarth, dominated the rallying scene in the late 1970s. With its rear-wheel-drive layout and aggressive styling, the rally car’s claimed top of 118 mph (190 kph).

The 131 Abarth conquered the stages, securing twenty WRC wins. Its success solidified Fiat’s reputation as a powerhouse in rally racing.

Peugeot 205 T16 rally car

The Modern Icons: Peugeot 205 T16 and Citroen C4 WRC

As we move into the modern era of rally racing, two cars stand out as icons of their time: the Peugeot 205 T16 and the Citroen C4 WRC. These cars pushed the boundaries of technology and performance, leaving a lasting impact and setting the rally sport on another level.

Peugeot 205 T16 rally car

1985 Peugeot 205 T16: The Group B Phenomenon

The Peugeot 205 T16, born from the legendary Group B era, took the rally world by storm in the mid-1980s. The 205 T16 was the Peugeot’s answer to such monsters as Lancia 037 and Audi Quattro. Motivated to build the best one, they designed 

 a compact but hand-build rally car, which costs the same as the Ferrari 308 GTB. With its mid-mounted turbocharged engine, altered wheelbase, and lightweight construction, the small hatchback had about 500 horsepower. However, the current WRC rally car price is still a costly pleasure. 

Born in 1983, Peugeot 205 T16 started its winning streak in the WRC in 1984 with victory at the 1000 Lakes Rally in the hands of the Finnish legend driver Ari Vatanen. 

Peugeot 205 T16 rally won 16 rallies from 28, driven to two championship victories two years in a row. The car became the most successful for the whole of Group B.

daniel elena and sebastien loeb

2007 Citroen C4 WRC: A Dominant Force

The Citroen C4 WRC, introduced in 2007, took the rallying world by storm with its dominant performances. With legendary driver Sebastien Loeb at the helm, the C4 WRC secured three constructors’ championships and four drivers’ titles in a row from 2008-2010. 

Its exceptional performance, aerodynamic design, and superior handling made C4 WRC a rally icon.

Regarding speed, in the 2010 Rally Bulgaria, Dani Sordo reached up to 134 mph (216 kph) at the wheel of a Citroën C4 WRC Rally Car. However, the most significant feature that sets this rally car apart is the C4 WRC cornered at astonishing speed.

Besides, Citroën still holds the record as their cars have won the most drivers’ championships – nine titles. All of them they achieved with Sébastien Loeb 

Opel Ascona 400 best rally cars explained

The Unforgettable: Opel Ascona 400

Some cars leave an indelible mark in rallying due to their unique designs and unforgettable performances. The Opel Ascona 400 is one of them. The rally car has become a legend in its own right.

Opel Ascona 400 best rally cars explained

1982 Opel Ascona 400: A Rally Legend

Like the Peugeot 205 T16, the Opel Ascona 400 was born out of the Group B era. But it became a legend in its own right. With its distinctive design and superb handling, the Ascona 400 secured multiple victories and won the 1982 World Rally Championship title.

It was Opel’s successor and a speedy car. Ascona 400 rally car accelerated 0-60 mph in just 7.2 seconds, reaching its top speed of over 124 mph (200 kph).

The Modern Titans: Toyota Yaris WRC and Hyundai i20 WRC

These two modern cars have emerged as titans of the sport: the Toyota Yaris WRC and the Hyundai i20 WRC. These machines represent the cutting edge of technology and performance in the rally world.

Toyota Yaris WRC rally car

2021 Toyota Yaris WRC: A Winning Formula

The Toyota Yaris WRC, introduced in 2017, has quickly established itself as a dominant force in the sport. With its powerful engine, advanced aerodynamics, and exceptional handling, the Yaris WRC has secured two championships in 2018 and 2021. 

With its top speed of 125 mph (201 kph), Yaris WRC had stamped fastest speed records at the rallies many times, keeping this magical mark about 200 kphWhile the average speed of Yaris WRC at the stages is over 100 kph. 

However, the Yaris WRC is one of the best rally cars all of the time. The team as continued to push the boundaries of rally car performance, showcasing Toyota’s commitment to excellence in the sport. 

Thus, with introducing the new hybrid era in the WRC, Toyota revealed its GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid car, which has taken the leadership since 2022 and continued to keep its top position, stepping closer to the third championship for the 2023 season.

2020 Hyundai i20 WRC: A Rivaly Star

In 2014, no one could imagine that the introduced Hyundai i20 WRC had secured multiple victories, establishing Hyundai as the winner of two manufacturer championships for 2019 and 2020. 

With a powerful 1.6L turbo engine and more than 300 hp, a four-wheel-driven I20 accelerated to 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of approximately 225 km/h! Fast and powerful, as I20 demonstrated astonishing might at the terrains with the crests. Thus, Adrien Fourmaux set a record on Rally Finland at the wheel of I20; he made the longest rally jump ever at 68 meters in 2021!

Another reason to call the Hyundai i20 WRC one of the best rally cars ever is its aggressive design, which draws attention with its prominent red lightning on its sides. However, the I20 WRC is the most successful Korean Rally car ever that made the racing world buzz about Hyundai. 

Switching to the new era didn’t meet the expectations of the team. Currently, the Hyundai Hybrid Rally1 car setting second fast after the Toyota GR Yaris. 

The Best Looking Rally Cars of All Time: Aesthetics and Design

1971 Renault Alpine A110
Alpine A110

1971 Renault Alpine A110: The iconic French beauty

1999 Ford Focus WRC MK1: A modern classic with sleek lines – Motoim

Citroen Xsara T4 WRC rally car

2003 Citroen Xsara T4 WRC: A bold and aggressive design

Peugeot 405 T16 GR rally car

1988 Peugeot 405 T16 GR Pikes Peak: A striking and purposeful appearance

These cars performed exceptionally on the stages and turned heads with their stunning designs.

best rally cars in the WRC

A Legacy of Power, Performance, and Passion

These rally cars have left an indelible mark on the sport. During the evolution from light and powerful small cars, today we watch massive rally cars for over 1200 kgs rally cars, but brand new hybrids are still potent. Past-era WRC cars today look like toys from LEGO in the background of Rally1 cars. 

However, from the pioneers of rally racing to the modern titans of the sport, each car has contributed to the rich history and legacy of rallying. Their power, performance, and passion have captivated fans and inspired generations of drivers and enthusiasts. Whether the Audi Sport Quattro S1, the Lancia Stratos, or the Toyota Yaris GR, each car represents the pinnacle of engineering, design, and dedication. 

The best rally cars of all time continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in motorsport, thrilling fans and drivers alike with their raw power and unmatched performance.