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The greatest homologation specials of all time

Nick Francis

03 Feb 2021

In the name of motorsport some phenomenal cars have made their way to the roads. Here we take a look at some of the greatest homologation cars of all time.

Ask any car fan what their favourite homologation special is and no doubt they will have an answer locked and loaded, or, more likely, a list of two or three. For anyone unsure, homologation specials are road cars specially built by manufacturers to make a race car version which is legally allowed to enter competitions.

Many race series, such as rally touring car and GT race series have rules which mean the cars competing must also be available for use on the road, even if in a limited number. This means throughout history there has been a number of absolutely bonkers homologation cars: essentially full-on race cars which technically can be driven to the shops for a pint of milk.

A recent example of a superb homologation car is the Toyota GR Yaris which was developed by Toyota Gazoo Racing rallying division. While it uses the name ‘Yaris’, apart from the lights and mirrors it shares little with the popular supermini and boasts the world’s most powerful production three-cylinder engine.

Ford RS200

Developed by Ford because it fancied a stab at Group B rallying, the RS200 was a four wheel drive fast Ford, deliberately made so because by the early 80s Audi was proving with Quattro that four driven wheels was better than two when it came to rallying. Power came from a mid-mounted 1.8-litre Cosworth engine which produced 444bhp. The RS200 only got to compete for one season before Group B was scrapped due to safety issues.

Mercedes CLK GTR

The CLK GTR was Mercedes’ route into GT1 racing, but a total of 25 were made for the road. A GT1 car for the road, does it get any better than that? Apart from the addition of aircon and slightly comfier seats, the road version was exactly the same as the track model, featuring the same 541bhp 6.9-litre V12 engine which meant it could cover 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. Tidy little run around, right?

BMW M3 E30

What? The M3 isn’t a homologation car, I could buy one today from my local dealership. While that’s true, the M3 actually started life as project to enter the DTM touring car competition. All the key ingredients which remain today in the mass-market model were there when it was revealed in 1985: lightweight body, close ratio gearbox, powerful engine. BMW probably didn’t realise at the time just how popular the M3 would become.

Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion

Only two of these were made for the road: one is owned by the German government, the other is in the hands of Bahrain-based car collector Khalid Abdul Rahim. So even a Euromillions win wouldn’t bag you one. The 911 GT1 Strassenversion used styling elements of the 993-gen 911, but other than that it’s an all-out Le Mans car. Its 3.2-litre twin turbocharged flat six is mountedin the middle - all you need to know to see it’s not a 911 at all – and produces 537bhp.The 0-62mph sprint is covered in 3.9 seconds, which is slower than a lot of modern supercars, including the Porsche 911 Turbo, but I know which I’d rather have.

Renault R5 Turbo

This one goes out to those who remember the 80s, when the Renault 5 Turbo was king of the ring road. The R5 was Renault’s entry into rallying, but it made almost 5,000 R5s which could be driven by regular license holders, which meant it wasn’t impossible to spot one, especially if you went to the right places. It was notoriously difficult to keep shiny side up though, with all 158bhp sent to the back wheels, so finding one in good condition today is about as easy as winning in WRC.

Lancia Delta S4 ‘Stradale’

Lancia made some of the most legendary rally machines ever made, and the Delta S4 is one of its finest efforts. The mid-engined AWD Group B monster won a total of five WRC stages between 1985 and 1986. To qualify to race Lancia announced it was to build 200 road-going versions known as the S4 Stradale, but in actual fact the production run ended up being less than 100. This makes it an extremely rare car, with one going up for auction for $1 million in 2019. The Stradale had a fearsome reputation thanks to its 1.8-litre engine which was turbocharged AND supercharged.

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