Rally cars of Goodwood: All the world's a stage


Ah, just when you thought it was over. For the three or four individuals who have yet to tire of our 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed coverage, you’ll be pleased to know that I have a swollen bag of images and things to release in dribs and drabs over the coming weeks. This’ll be my last mention of the FoS as an event, for a while, though. We’ve established that it’s awesome; now we can concentrate on what really makes it. Yes, the catering. It’s delicious.
The cars are pretty spectacular, too. The supercars, bikes and racers thrusting their way up the hillclimb are a treat to behold, but not, through my eyes, as spectacular as their off-road brethren. The Goodwood rally stage, a ten minute ride away in a suspensionless tractor-hauled trailer with slatted wooden seats, offers a different kind of excitement. And an awful lot more dust.

Images can be clicked on if you’d like them to grow a little bigger


So, a quick run through of the most interesting machines I managed to get half decent shots of. We’ve already seen the and the , next up is the Porsche 911. In this case it’s an ’84 911 SC RS, purpose-built as a rally machine from the outset, and showing every bit of swagger you’d expect of a cross-country sprinter from Stuttgart. That ear-splitting air-cooled flat-six scream had already reverberated from the hillclimb, and here it was again, only slightly muted by the trees and foliage that lined the rally stage.
It wouldn’t be that long after this machine was built than Porsche’s rallying efforts would concentrate on the four-wheel drive 959, but I can’t imagine many owners of those would willingly subject them to these rigours purely with the aim of entertaining the public.

The Mk1 Ford Escort is an altogether more familiar face on the clubman rally circuit, and a pretty sought-after one itself, especially numbers-matching genuine works Escort Twin Cams like this one. Essentially the Ford Lotus Cortina powerpack squeezed into the smaller, lighter Ford Escort frame, the Twin Cam was a distant precursor to what would happen at the turn of the ’90s, when the four-wheel drive Sierra Sapphire Cosworth floorpan, engine and transmission were clothed with a modified Ford Escort shell to create the Escort Cosworth, with considerable rally success to follow.
Thing about Escort rally cars is that familiarity breeds contempt. When , Escorts made up as much of the field as E30s and Miatas do at LeMons. Their agility, noise and sense of determination, though, means they never, ever get boring.

And nor was this, the fascinating Gartrac Escort G3. Don’t let the Mk3 Ford Escort bodyshell — similar but not the same as the American issue that launched at around the same time — fool you; there’s no front wheel drive and transverse engine here. Instead, that modern suit of clothes concealed a rear-wheel drive layout and North-South Ford Cosworth-headed 2.1-litre BDA ford Pinto twin-cam engine. Essentially, under the skin the mechanical parts were interchangeable with the MK2 Escorts that many privateer drivers really didn’t want to move away from.
In an interesting turn of events, the RS1700T rally car that Ford was developing at the time, is said to have disappointed when tested against the Gartrak at its Boreham motorsport skunkworks, and this fact, along with the growing popularity of four-wheel drive, led to the RS1700T’s development being cancelled.

And then, of course, came Group B. Motorsport in the ’80s was nothing if not exuberant, with an ‘anything goes’ ethos surfacing in both the wildly turbocharged Formula 1 cars of the era, and the insanely powerful Group B rally cars whose very potency would ultimately prove their undoing. For a brief, glorious period, though, these flame-spitting monsters did more to progress rallying in three years than their contemporaries had managed in decades. And none moreso than the Audi Quattro S1.
Demonstrating the sheer lengths that car firms would go to in order to make their road cars more competitive in rallying, Audi took the already fearsome Quattro coupe, sliced 320mm from it’s middle section and then fitted a colossal turbocharger, producing a brutally quick machine that could virtually turn in its own length. It was a car that immediately sent rivals back to the drawing board, and the Ford RS200 and my beloved Metro 6R4 might never have existed without it.

Speaking of legend-makers, here’s a Subaru Legacy. In a time before Impreza was even a word, it was the Legacy that really established Subaru as a name to be reckoned with in international rallying. With four-wheel drive, plentiful turbocharging and an uncanny sense of balance, the Big Subie positively danced its way through the forest, eclipsing established rivals in every way — including exhaust note.
It was particularly threatening when there was a young Scot behind the wheel, whose name would come to dramatically raise the profile of international rallying to an extent that Paddy Hopkirk and Roger Clarke could never have dreamt of. Sadly, as we know, Colin McRae couldn’t be with us to watch the Legacy cavorting energetically around the track…

…but his brother Alister could, as could his dad, Jimmy, and both had a turn behind the wheel to show the assembled crowds just what the Legacy could do, well over two decades after its final WRC appearance.

And just to emphasis the sheer variety of machines that makes rallying so colourful, here’s a Mercedes 190E 2.3-16. Perhaps panicked by Audi — still a relative upstart with upmarket ambitions in the ’80s — Mercedes decided to have a go at rallying itself, with less than sparkling results. The rear-wheel drive Mercedes 190e, forerunner to the C-Class, was pretty ill-suited to rough terrain, lacking much in the way of ground clearance or suspension travel, and it didn’t exactly set the pace on flatter ground, either.
As if to prove the point, of the two examples running at the weekend, one crashed out after becoming rather too determinedly airborne, breaking its propshaft on re-entry.
(Images copyright Chris Haining / Redusernab 2018)

By |2018-07-17T15:12:10+00:00July 17th, 2018|All Things Hoon, Goodwood|20 Comments

We the Author:

Chris is a tall, punctual man from rural Essex, England. He's proud to drive a car that many would be ashamed to own, and his office smells of mildew and decomposing paper. Much of this aroma belongs to his car brochure collection, which will no doubt provide winter fuel when he grows old and poor(er). Writes about cars for a major UK magazine publisher, has a degree in designing them and once served a ten year stretch in sales, service and warranty.
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