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9 Coolest Affordable Cars That Once Dominated In Rally – HotCars

by Oct 25, 2022Blog0 comments

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While most race cars aren’t affordable, rally cars can be. Here are 9 cool rally-bred machines that come with reasonable price tags.
Rally racing has always been an integral part of motorsports. What once started as a friendly race somewhere in Europe filled with rear-wheel cars that weren't race cars by any means quickly spun into a fast, white-knuckle driving experience. Ask any rally fan and they will probably tell you the best era of rally was in 1982 when the infamous "group B" started. Group B Rally was filled with cars that were made only to go as fast as possible but never to be sold on the market. Once group B ended in 1986 it opened up a new possibility for many car manufacturers. Not only could they create a car that would be good for rally but could be sold on the open market as well.
This new era opened the gates for household names like Subaru, Honda, and Ford to not only make cars that were great for racing but could also be marketed to fans of the sport to buy. Here are some of the sickest affordable cars that once dominated rally.
Related: 10 Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars That Excelled at Rally
BMW has always had motorsports at the core of its foundation. The vehicles in their stable have taken home hundreds of trophies across every discipline of motorsports. The E36 was one of their vehicles that could be tuned to race rally all over the world. While it may be harder to find one in rally-ready condition, it is certainly a car that you could enter into some amateur events with a little bit of tuning.
You can typically find these cars within the $8,000-$12,000 range at various auctions.
The Golf STI has been a big name in the lower-end sports cars community for quite some time. Its short wheelbase makes for an agile machine and it can be modded as much or as little as you want and still be a fun car to drive. Since 1986, it has made a name for itself in rally and it's easy to see why.
It is easy to buy a new one in the lower $30,000s but if you look for an older model such as the 1980 and 90s models you can find a perfectly capable hot hatch below $10,000.
The Ford Focus has been around for quite some time as a respectable car to make into a monster race machine. It's easy to see why with lots over 40 rally wins on the world stage. While the Ford Focus RS on the market is front-wheel drive (the WRC edition is all-wheel) it still makes for a fun drive that can be tuned in whatever fashion you deem fit.
You can snag a relatively fresh Ford Focus RS for around $30,000 in amazing condition.
Related: These Are The Greatest Group A Rally Cars Ever
The Mustang isn't a typical car that you would think of when it comes to rally. After all, it's a longer car compared to many modern rally cars and it is built for pure muscle, not to be thrown around a dirt track. That is until it's modded. With the right modifications (particularly suspension travel and height) you can have a rally car for a pretty good price.
While the newer mustangs will set you back quite a bit, you could easily find a mustang for under $20,000.
Related: Check Out These Highly Unlikely, Yet Totally Awesome Rally Cars
When you close your eyes and picture companies that have always dominated in rally, Subaru will typically be the one you think of most. The WRX STI is on the roads today because of its rally prestige. It is a performance car through and through and it can be driven in a local rally straight out of the dealership.
A relatively new WRX STI will knock your bank account down $27,000 but you can find older models in great condition for around $18,000.
The Ford Focus began to take a backseat to the Fiesta on the world rally stage around 10 years ago. The Ford Fiesta was based on the Focus of the 90s and competed until 2016. While it didn't have as many wins as its predecessor it still put up a great fight and is easily available to regular roadway drivers right now.
While the RS version may be harder to locate, you can buy a Fiesta right now for $15,000 and with the tuning capabilities of the car, that's not a bad deal.
You may be thinking to yourself "one of these cars is not like the others" and that is certainly true. While Porsche doesn't have a pedigree in rally, its 944 models from the mid-'80s have become an easily moddable car to rally in. The weight distribution alone makes it a great car to slide on some dirt in.
You can find a Porsche 944 for well under $10,000 if you want a project rally car.
Related: 10 Awesome Cars You Never Knew Competed In Rally
The Honda Civic has been a performance icon for well over 20 years. It's not the car itself that has people excited, it's the tunability. The Civic has been modded to be a rally car, a drag car, and everything in between. While it hasn't won anything on the world stage, it can be easily built into a competitor with the right parts.
You can even snag a mid-2000's civic for under $10,000.
The Lancer was the Mitsubishi response to the WRX in WRC. It was the first car to bring home a championship title for Mitsubishi and it continued to dominate well after that. Its AWD drivetrain mixed with its fast engine made it a dream for the rally stage and the car was easily modifiable to turn it into that.
The Evo 3 can be harder to find these days, but if you do it will typically be for around $18,000- $22,000.
Kyle Harper grew up at the base of Pikes Peak. His passion for cars comes from his dad who raced the hill climb there for the majority of his childhood. This passion took shape in the form of writing about cars and the culture surrounding them. He has written for various marketing companies and HotCars since graduating with a degree in English from Colorado State University in 2019. If he is not writing, he is probably playing Forza, snowboarding, or driving around in his 2016 Subaru Impreza.