We asked for your opinion. We have compiled the most common answers. Here are the five best homologation cars ever made – as voted by you.
Motorsport plays a huge role in the development of high performance road cars. Legends of motorsport have come and gone thoughout history, and we’ve seen fierce competition by many makes through many genres – on and off road. Homologation cars are required by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) in order to compete in some motorsport events. Here are the 5 best homologation cars ever made.
05. Lancia Delta S4 Stradale
Coming in fifth place, Lancia’s Delta S4 Stradale. With a short production run of 200 made between 1985 and 1986, the Italian road car was based off the Delta S4 Group B rally car, well known for its ‘bend the rules’ approach towards rallying, its brutal twin-charged engine, and sadly – the mysterious horror accident that ended Group B.
Powered by a small 1759cc inline-4, the engine was force fed with a turbocharger and supercharger, which at maximum operation amounted to 75.2psi (5 bar) of boost with a capability of pushing 746kW (1,000hp) at 10,000rpm through four wheels at the extreme. In the road going ‘stradale’ version, the engine was de-tuned to 184kW (247 hp) at 6,750rpm, which meant a 0-100km/h time of 6 seconds and a top speed of 225km/h.
The road car featured a comfortable alcantara interior and creature comforts that differentiated it from the rally car, such as power steering and air conditioning. The road version also featured sound deadening, as it was built by Italian coachbuilders as opposed to the rally car, which were built by fiat’s racing department, Abarth.
At the 1986 Rally de Portugal, a Delta S4 driven by Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto careered off the road and burst into flames, killing both occupants. This ultimately marked the end of Group B, where cars were built on the principle of pure insanity and the sole objective of going as fast as humanly possible on some of the world’s most dangerous and unforgiving loose surface courses. The Delta S4 marked the end of an era.
04. Ford RS200
Rally car homologations are a popular trend on this list – and coming in at number 4 is another Group B rally car, Ford’s iconic but short-lived RS200. A small mid-engined car designed for the sole purpose of rally from the ground up by Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia, the RS200 was arguably one of the best cars to ever have carried a Ford badge, but ended up as one of many failures in Group B.
200 road-going examples were built between 1984 and 1986, and unlike its competition, the RS200 never shared a chassis with a mass production car. This made the RS200 chassis one of the rarest body styles to ever enter into rally. A fibreglass shell, a mid-engined layout and a front-mid mounted gearbox meant that the weight distribution was close to 50/50, and the lightweight space frame chassis offset the weight from the all-wheel drive system, which could send all power to the rear via the central differential.
The race car variant was powered by a turbocharged 1.8L inline-4 which in rally form produced up to 336kW (450hp) at 8,000rpm, and in road form produced 186kW (250hp). Some rumours even state that some examples were tuned up to around 600kW (800hp), capable of accelerating from 0-96km/h in a mind-blowing 2.1 seconds. The result was a car that understeered below 6000rpm, and oversteered above it. Although a difficult car to master – once it’s driving style was adapted, the car could only be described as wild. So why was the RS200 a failure?
The RS200 made it’s motorsport debut in 1986, with the goal of being Ford’s slingshot into success in Group B and the upcoming Group S. However, at the 1986 Rally de Portugal, an RS200 spun off the road and into a crowd of spectators, resulting in the tragic death of three – and not too long after, the catastrophic Lancia Delta S4 accident resulted in the end of Group B, and ultimately put an end to the RS200 rally car – the same year it was introduced. Following this, the RS200 was modified to compete in road races, but as purpose built rally car, its true potential was never unlocked.
As Chris Harris once said, “[RS200] defines group B… companies like Ford felt compelled to drop millions developing a car that didn’t offer tangible marketing crossover into a production car”. The RS200 had the potential to be one of the wildest racers in the history of Group B, but had it’s life cut short after the event’s sudden demise, and its homologation car remains a highly sought after piece of history.
Lancia 037 Stradale
Coming in third place, Lancia’s iconic Group B homologation special, the 037 Stradale – the road-going variant of Lancia’s game changing entry into Group B in the early 1980s. It looked like nothing could stop Audi’s Sport Quattro with its highly advanced all-wheel drive system, until Lancia surprised the competition with a rear-wheel drive car and a goal to achieve the unachievable. To beat the Quattro.
A silhouette racer based on the Montecarlo, the original 037 Rally was powered by a 2.0L supercharged engine, producing up to 209kW (280hp) at 8,000rpm. This allowed for a 0-100km/h time of 4.4 seconds, which although quick – even for modern standards, it was completely dwarfed by the mighty Quattro, which had an absurd 122kW (164hp) more power than the 037.
Almost nothing on paper favoured the 037 Rally – and in it’s debut year of competition, 1982, the two cars entered were plagued with issues. In 1983, Lancia returned to the WRC and won the Constructors’ title in the hands of Walter Röhrl and Markku Alen. However, Lancia’s year didn’t stop there as they went on to achieve the impossible, taking the win from Audi’s hands at the Manufacturers’ World Championship in 1983 and setting the 037 into the history books.
In 1984, a revision was made to the 037, the new car dubbed the ‘Evolution 2’. A new displacement of 2.1L and a new power output of 242kW (325hp) meant that the 037 was more competitive than ever, but rear-wheel drive had already passed its era, as other manufacturers improved their systems and forced Lancia to switch to a new all-wheel drive racer.
Under FIA homologation rules, Lancia created 200 road-going 037’s, powered by a similar 2.0L engine as the rally racer. This variation produced 153kW (205hp), and allowed for a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds – very impressive figure for a road car in the 1980’s.
The 037 Rally would become know as the last rear-wheel drive car to ever win the WRC, and the competition it brought would go down as some of the most exciting years in the history of motorsport. With a fibreglass reinforced body made from kevlar, an unmistakabley striking Abarth/Pininfarina design and a history unlike any other, the Lancia 037 and its road-going variant truly deserve their place in the top five homologation specials.
02. Audi Sport Quattro
Three of the top five greatest homologation cars have been Group B rally cars, and coming in at number two (the fourth Group B rally car on this list), the renowned Audi Sport Quattro. Votes tied with the Lancia 037, we had to put up a second poll – and after counting up your votes, the Quattro came out on top – and deservingly so.
Debuting in 1980, the Quattro would not only soon become one of the most ravageous cars ever to set wheel offroad, but it would also shape Audi as a marque in following years. Inititally running a 2.1L turbocharged inline-5 engine, the Quattro rally car produced 224kW (300hp) of power – but it was capable of so much more. As the years passed, the power increased substantially, first to 261kW (350hp) – and later to 331kW (444hp). An unstoppable missile in Group B, the Quattro took out a monumental 23 WRC victories in it’s career, winning outright in 1982 and 1984, only slowing down with a loss to Lancia in 1983.
This prompted Audi to increase it’s development of rally technology drastically, debuting the new and improved Quattro S1 E2. Towards the end of 1985, the same 5-cylinder engine was fitted with a new turbocharger to keep boost available at all times – thus close to eliminating turbo lag. This resulted in an immense 373kW (500hp) of power available at 8,000rpm, which paired with a new and unmistakable rear spoiler, meant that Audi had improved the Sport Quattro immensly – but they weren’t done yet.
In 1986, the final iteration of the Audi Sport Quattro S1 E2 had been completed. The end result was a 441kW (592hp) rally car, which fitted with a Porsche developed direct-shift gearbox could accelerate the car from 0-100km/h in just 3.1 seconds. Absurd.
The homologation Quattro was no slouch either. The road variant produced 225kW (302hp) at 6,700rpm from it’s similar turbocharged inline-5, allowing for an incredible 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds – which for 1984, we’d like to think is indisputably – extremely fast, especially for a 2100cc car. The Quattro shaped the future of Audi and of rally, and it’s influence should never be forgotten.
01. Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Strassenversion
The most voted for car on our poll by a tremendous margin – a car so good, it killed GT1.
1996 marked the temporary end of the International Touring Car Championship (DTM) as high costs meant that both Opel and Alfa Romeo withdrew from the competition, leaving Mercedes-Benz as the last remaining manufacturer. Following the success of the BPR Global GT Endurance Series, Mercedes; no longer vested in DTM, seized the opportunity to enter the 1997 FIA GT Championship, however since their racer was a W202 C-class based DTM car, Mercedes had no suitable car for this racing category. They had a mere few months to fully a develop a car to compete with full-fledged GT1 race cars. And they did it with flying colours.
With the help of secretly acquiring a McLaren F1 GTR, it took AMG just four months to develop and design their GT1 competitor – the CLK GTR. With a highly modified ‘M120’ V12, the 5,986cc naturally aspirated ‘GT 112’ engine produced 447kW (600hp) at 7,000rpm and 700Nm of torque, giving it more power per liter than its highly regarded McLaren competitor.
The first race didn’t go so well for Mercedes – out of the two cars entered, one didn’t finish due to mechanical problems and the other came 27th out of 29 cars that crossed the finish line. However, after rectifying the issues, Mercedes managed to claw back it’s losses, ending the 1997 GT Championship in first place, ahead of both McLaren racing teams after winning 17 out of the 21 remaining races it entered. 1998 was an even better year for Mercedes as the CLK GTR won every race in the season, however this shortly lead to the demise of GT1, as no one wanted to compete against the infamous AMG, and thus no team signed up in 1999.
That brings us to the homologation. A production line of around 30 between 1998 and 1999, the CLK GTR road-variant topped the charts as the most expensive production car ever with a price of over $1.5 million USD. Power came from an enlarged 6,898cc V12 engine producing 450kW (604hp) of power and 775Nm of torque, leading to a 0-100km/h time of 3.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 344km/h. Five examples were fitted with an even more powerful 7.3L variant which would find it’s way into the Pagani Zonda.
Retaining its carbon fibre construction, the CLK GTR Straßenversion was kept similar to its motorsport variant, essentially making it a GT1 race car with air conditioning and leather seats – for the road, and it’s this sense of madness and insanity that makes it to this day, arguably still the best car to have ever carried the three-pointed star badge. We certainly think it deserves the title of the best homologation car ever made.
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