Our favorite rally homologation specials of all time

News of Hyundai ending production of its i20 N got us thinking: which road-going rally car is the best?


Here at DirtFish, we’re big fans of hot hatches, homologation specials, and any car that can loosely fit under the umbrella of ‘a rally car for the road’.

If you’ve ever read a DirtFish.com article before, that news probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

Something that did take us by surprise however, was Hyundai’s announcement last month that it would soon be killing off its i20 N and i30 N hot hatches in Europe, the latter of which is the car used for its World Rally Championship program. Instead, the ‘N’ mantra will shift to promote the Korean brand’s range of electric vehicles.


Hyundai uses the i20 N as the base for its current Rally1 car, but the common name is where the similarities end

Though the i20 N you could buy for the road isn’t a homologation special in the strictest sense – it shares less DNA with its competition equivalent than many other rally cars for the road over the years – it’s still one rally-inspired road machine less in the market. Toyota’s brilliant GR Yaris is now the only car you can watch win a world championship round on Sunday, and then buy the road-going version from your local showroom on Monday.

To pay homage to the brilliant road cars that have spawned from manufacturers’ pursuit of WRC glory over the past 51 years, we asked the DirtFish team to tell the tale of their favorite homologation specials. Here’s what they came up with.

Colin Clark – Audi quattro

When I was growing up in Dundee a friend of my Dad’s had the coolest car we ever saw. It was an Audi quattro. I remember when he came to our house, my friends and I went outside and just stood and stared at it.


I didn’t know much about rallying back in those days, so the whole importance of the car on the world I live in now was kind of lost on me back then – but when the roads are filled with Mini Metros and Ford Cortinas, something like a quattro stops you in your tracks.

It was like something from another world and such a sad day when the production run stopped. We’re reminded of the Audi quattro a lot in the sport we work in, but the road car was brought back to life in the British TV show Ashes to Ashes. Watching that show brought the love of that car flooding back.

James Bowen – Ford RS200

The car that represents perhaps the greatest ‘what if’ in WRC history is my choice.

While the Ford RS200 never achieved the success it should have, thanks to the curtailing of rallying’s Group B era, it’s still one of the most striking, and frankly mad, rally cars ever built.

And the road car? Well, 200 people in the world know what it’s like to feel the rumble of the 450 bhp mid-mounted engine beneath them in this beast of a machine, which was built for anything other than road-going comfort.

Those folk are very lucky. But at least the rest of us can look on in amazement when we very rarely see one, tinged with just a hint of fear.


There are two reasons why the RS200 is my favorite ever homologation special. Neither have anything to do with its career on the stages; sadly, that came before my time. It’s this car’s heritage and legacy that always captivated me.

Firstly, I grew up in Essex (UK), where Ford has huge cultural significance – many of Britain’s Fords were built in the county for much of the 20th Century. My Dad was more of a Vauxhall man, but there was one Ford he would often regale me with stories of as a child; the RS200. The name, and the tales, have always stuck with me.

Secondly, many years later, I found myself working in a quarry in Essex after graduating from University. Why is this in any way relevant? Well, the quarry operated on the site of a former WWII airfield in a village just outside Chelmsford, which had also been used as a motor racing circuit and proving ground for developing competition cars in the decades since.


The name of that village and the proving ground were one and same: Boreham.

Somehow, someway, I’d come to the birthplace of Ford’s RS200. Most of my colleagues didn’t care too much about the history of the place, but to me it was special. And my deep love for that car will always be there as a result.

Brenten Kelly – Subaru Impreza WRX STi

In America we have the 18-year rule – I’m sure it’s a worldwide thing – but the deal is that 18 years after you graduate from High School, that’s when you’re supposed to be making the good money. So, when you have the money, you look back 18 years and what was cool back then?


For my Dad it was Porsches and Mustangs, he got the Mustang. For me, it was Subaru Imprezas. Everybody wanted an STi when I was in school. Then I started to follow rallying and I saw more of these cars. Around 2006 and 2007 I started working in the sport and going to Sno*Drift and seeing Ken [Block] and Travis [Pastrana] competing in them really brought the thing to life. Those were the peak cars. It wasn’t about Ferraris or Lambos for me, I lived in Michigan in the woods – what use was a Lambo anyway? But a Subaru, that was something special. Something I could jump, to fly around in.

It was that time that really created the culture that still exists in ARA today – everybody wanted that classic Impreza. I have a car that’s a 2006/07 shape and it’s so special. Whenever you see one of those on the road, it just makes you smile and it was tough when that period passed.

But should this car sit in this section of great homologation specials that are no more? I don’t know. The Impreza has gone, the STi has gone, but the WRX is very much still with us and it’s a fantastic thing. But, for me, those late 1990s and early 2000s cars will always be something amazing.

Dan Pilling – Ford Escort RS Cosworth


As a 15-year-old, I was mad on cars and as part of my school work I wrote to a bunch of car companies to ask how they did what they did. Ford invited me to the factory in Dageham to have a look around. We got this amazing tour around the place and the car collection and when we got off the bus at the end, there was a pre-production Escort Cosworth just sitting there.

I asked the guy giving us the tour, who it belonged to. He said: “Oh, that’s ours, would you like to go for a ride?”

My Dad and I jumped in and this car took us around some private roads, put his foot down and showed us what the Escort could do. For me, that was it, I was smitten with the Cosworth. It’s become one of those iconic car designs. You look at the silhouette and it could only be an Escort Cosworth, you recognise it immediately. The design was fantastic. In rallying it did pretty well and really should have won the world championship with François Delecour.

Whether it won the world title or not, I’ll never forget the Escort Cossie.

Alasdair Lindsay – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI TME

If you were of car-buying age in the 2000s and had a decent income, let me tell you: you lived in the golden era. You don’t know how good you had it.

Group B homologation specials were unaffordable from day one. The everyman could only ever see those cars in someone else’s hands. That’s not the case for Group A: possibly the biggest bonus of the shift in regulations was the vast increase in production numbers needed to achieve homologation.


If you were going to be forced to make 2500 of something, rather than 200, you’d better make it within reach of some normal folk too. For a brief period, the homologation special was the right balance of special enough, but not so special that us mere mortals couldn’t hope of having them for ourselves. Both Mitsubishi and Subaru understood this – but I’d go for the Mitsubishi.

I am 10 years too young. I look at a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition, knowing they could once be had for as little as £20,000 ($26,000), and feel sadness for the car that will probably never be mine. Chassis 001 broke the six-figure mark when it was sold at auction a few years ago and others will surely follow suit – at least the low-milers. Others, in white and silver and with plenty more hard use on the clock, are still going to set you back at least half that.

I know the exact spec I’m after: Passion Red with the Ralliart sticker pack. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, that’s the one everyone wants. From what I’ve heard, only 212 of them were made in that combination, which would make up less than 10% of all the Evo VI TMEs – whose stupid idea was that? That doesn’t help the price problem either.

And yes, it has to be a TME: those 17” Enkei WRC wheels are a must-have. And it’s got the correct 6.5-spec front bumper on it.


You know that question you sometimes get asked, where and when you’d go if you had a one-time shot at a time machine? I’d go wherever and whenever I could get an Evo VI TME for 20 grand.

This was the whole point of rallying, for me. You can keep your Group B monsters – I don’t want them. This was the glory era of rallying, when win on Sunday, sell on Monday was at its most literal. And if I hadn’t reached adulthood on the wrong side of the biggest economic crash in history, I’d probably have been at the Mitsubishi dealership on Monday morning.

David Evans – Lancia Delta Integrale


The second evolution of Lancia’s Delta HF Integrale had timed sequential multipoint injection. And mapped ignition with two double outlet coils. I didn’t care about either of those things. For me, it was more about the Momo steering wheel and Recaro seats. And the fact that, wearing Martini stripes, there was only one car cooler than this one on planet earth.

That car? The older, bigger, braver and even more insane cousin, the S4.

The S4, of course, ended its days when Group B died in 1986, but the Evo II ran for another eight years. And could and should still be running today.

It’s one of those cars that wouldn’t look out of place in a contemporary showroom. And if it was in the showroom, it wouldn’t be there for long. It was wide, but not too wide, raspy but not roarty and, most of all, beautifully attainable. Above all though, it was all-Italian. Yes, that might have meant the odd window going up when you’d expected it to be going down, but did that really matter? Not a bit.

I was once fortunate enough to co-drive in an ex-factory Deltona and I think I won. I say I think because it was a long time ago – but I know we beat Alister McRae. And I saw ‘we’ when really I had very little to do with the performance. Steve Smith was the man doing the pedalling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed Rallysprint in 1997. Or 1998.

While I don’t remember the result, I’ll never forget the car’s presence and pace. It was an absolute stunner. And it wasn’t just my favourite, when Smith gave it one final world championship outing before its homologation ran out in 2000, Juha Kankkunen saw the car at the start of a stage, threw Steve a wave and offered two words: Great car!”

He wasn’t wrong. And seeing a period Deltona in works livery is special, but seeing a pukka road going Evo II out and about is, curiously, even more of a treat.