Sometimes the stars align and the universe tells you “It’s time, my son.” That, in short, is what happened here as within the course of a week my usual car supplier let me know he had a large number of new arrivals up for auction, said car supplier offered me a $60 credit for an order that disappeared in the mail back in December, and I received a decently sized quarterly for my YouTube video of a rally driver playing DiRT Rally (which is now over 2.3 million views). Clearly it was time to expand my collection. So, as mentioned in my teaser last week, I went bid-crazy.
TALBOT SUNBEAM LOTUS ($12)
The most interesting thing about this car for me is the co-driver, a little-known Frenchman named Jean Todt. Yes, that Jean Todt. Outside the most hardcore of rally fans the Talbot and its rally history has, sadly, largely been lost to history, but it was a fantastic little car and, despite only winning two events, was quick and consistent enough to earn the 1981 Manufacturer’s title. The genesis of the car was simple, but effective. Talbot took their, small, light, nimble Sunbeam, then went to Colin Chapman of Lotus for MOARR POWER. Boom, instant hot hatch.
TRIUMPH TR7 V8 ($8)
Speaking of forgotten rally cars, how about the oddball that is the TR7. By today’s rally standards it seems ludicrous. A V8, rear-drive, British sports car being taken to the backroads of Great Britain. And that’s because it was. The cars were notoriously difficult to tame, but when a driver could wrestle the car into submission they were a tough pair to beat. Tony Pond was one such driver, managing to win a number of races in the TR7, including the 1978 and 1980 Manx Rally
A little known aside, American John Buffum, the winningest rally driver in history, was also a factory TR7 driver for Triumph at the time, competing in North America.
SAAB 96 ($11)
The car of the one true Stig, Stig Blomqvist. Blomqvist started making waves in Sweden in 1968 with a privately-entered 96, regularly beating the factory Saab team. Saab saw the writing on the wall and hired Stig to become factory for the next season. The team proved to be a match made in heaven, as Blomqvist piloted the little Saab to victory in numerous events, including Rally Finland, the RAC rally, and four times in Rally Sweden.
RENAULT 5 MAXI TURBO ($14)
Little known fact about the Maxi Turbo, this car never lost a WRC event. These cars were oddballs of the era, rear drive when everyone else had committed to AWD, but with a power-to-weight of less than six pounds per horse (350 bhp and 2,050 lbs) the little terrors were absolute rocket ships, and on the two (yes two) occasions Renault decided to bring them to the WRC (the 1985 and 1986 Tour de Corse) they won handily, beating second place by over 12 minutes both times.
FORD ESCORT RS16OO MK1 ($16)
No rally collection is complete without an old Escort, and I’ve been trying to secure one for a while. Unfortunately for me, many other collectors feel the same way, and I regularly lost the fight. But not this time!
If you’re not familiar with the rally Powerhouse that is the Ford Escort then clearly you don’t know rally. The Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts were the winningest car of the 70's, and helped launch the careers of countless talents, including Timo Makinen, Roger Clark, Bjorn Waldegaard, Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen, Markku Alen, John Buffum, Henri Toivonen, and Malcolm Wilson
FORD FOCUS WRC ($25)
This one was an important get for me for personal reasons. Michael “Beef” Park embodied everything I try to be as a co-driver. Passionate, driven, and committed to being the very best he possibly could, but still always remembering the importance of enjoying life and having fun. He never passed up the opportunity to experience something new, to have a new adventure, or to bring a smile to someone, be it his driver, his team, the fans, or himself. He struck that perfect balance of skill, seriousness, and fun, something that seems all too rare in the upper echelons of motorsport these days.
HYUNDAI ACCENT WRC ($30)
This model confuses me. I actually already bought this car last year, but it came on a blank pedestal that is larger than that of all the other models, therefore I couldn’t add it to my collection shelf. So I chased this one hard, determined to fix the problem. Now I have it, but the odd thing is that the pedestal says Acropolis, but the car itself says Monte Carlo. The paired magazine (each car comes with one) includes a story about the car’s performance in Monte Carlo, so it’s the base that is wrong. How is this possible? It seems highly unlikely that they released two models of the 2003 Accent, it isn’t that remarkable of a car, and Loix retired from both events without so much as a stage win. I am now more confused than ever.
MG METRO 6R4 ($16)
This is what madness looks like. Take a tiny car with a 94 inch wheelbase, give it all wheel drive, stuff a 410 horsepower V6 in the back, add downforce, and let it run rampant in the countryside. Unfortunately for MG this approach proved to be a bit too ambitious, the short wheelbase (six inches shorter than the 205) made the car notoriously unstable, and by the time the firm had it sorted out enough to be competitive Group B had been cancelled, putting an end to the program, but not before Tony Pond managed a third place finish in the ‘85 RAC Rally. After Group B the car went on to dominate rallycross, and the engine was the heart of the Jaguar XJ220
BONUS: Rescue this RS200
I got this RS200 a while back, sadly the package had apparently been abused along the way (never trust delivery people. Never.) and the car arrived damaged. The plastic chassis is broken and the body is no longer attached. The driver’s mirror has also come off. I do not have the talents to do anything with it, but if anyone would like it/can fix it they’re welcome to it.