The rally car has undergone several changes of the years, with manufacturers keen to enhance the performance which vehicles which are able to give.
After the war, there was an increased interest in rally racing. Most vehicles which took part in competitions at this time were saloon cars and sports cars, which had undergone relatively few modifications in order to be suitable for racing. Many people would compete using ordinary cars, meaning that the popularity of the sport grew enormously.
However, soon after, car companies began to design vehicles which were specifically intended to be driven in races. One of the most notable examples of such vehicles was the Mini Cooper. Manufacturers such as Renault, Lotus, and Abarth soon followed suit and developed their own rally cars. In the same way that online poker organisations will often sponsor top players to demonstrate the strengths of their online software when playing, these car companies quickly became keen to hire professional drivers to drive their specialised vehicles. In 1974, the Lancia Stratos became the first car designed wholly with the intention of being able to win rallies.
Soon behind it was the Audi Quattro – the first rally car which featured four-wheel drive capabilities. FISA began to change it’s rule, in order to allow for further vehicle modifications within rally racing. The Peugeot 205 T16, Renault 5 Turbo and the Lancia Delta S4 all became known as ‘supercars’, having lightweight fibreglass frameworks, four-wheel driving, and extremely high power outputs.
However, after a number of spectators were killed by these uncontrollable vehicles, FISA again changed their rules to state the rally car designs would need to be more in-keeping with original production models. Although small improvements are constantly being made to modern rally cars, this basic guideline for manufacturers has remained much the same.