They're fast, furious and just a few modifications away from their motoring cousins giving it their all on the race track or rally stage. These homologation specials – all of limited production to meet ever-changing rules on competition – will transform every supermarket run into a rip-roaring race. They're on offer at a forthcoming Sotheby's Auction in Arizona. Now, which to choose?
One of the true greats of the rally stage and a game-changing piece of design. This is a fine example of a first generation Audi Quattro, which pioneered four wheel drive in rally cars, winning two World Rally Championships in quick succession. This production car, happily, has more of the creature comforts that you'd expect from Audi rather than the stripped-out interior of the competition machines. The Audi Quattro is both a rally-bred classic and a fast, luxurious grand tourer. Everyday genius.
The wings and skirts tell the story: there's no hiding the competition intent of this BMW. One of just 600 made so that Munich's finest could compete in the German touring car championships known as the DTM, the Sport Evolution took the already fast standard M3 and added a modified engine, those aerodynamic add-ons and numerous weight-saving modifications, right down to thinner glass for the windows. The steering wheel is suede wrapped for extra grip. Strap yourself in for the ride.
Lancia took its shopping hatchback, the Delta, and transformed it into a multiple World Rally Champion with the four wheel drive Delta HF Integrale. The Integrale, in various guises, won six successive manufacturer and driver titles, making it one of the most successful rally cars of all time. The "Blue Lagos" edition was among the last of the road-going production runs, with just 215 made. This immaculate example is one of them, featuring a unique external colourway and luxurious cream perforated leather to the interior. Find a dirt road to see what it can do. Just keep the mud off those pristine seats.
A delicately styled throwback to an earlier era of rallying, this elegant Lancia Fulvia comes equipped with a competition roll cage, ready for your historic rallying debut. There's no four wheel drive or fancy aerodynamic aids here, just a purposeful Momo steering wheel and body-hugging bucket seats, along with some discreet wheel arch extensions. The Lancia is powered by a 1.6 litre V4 engine, developed especially for competition. So equipped, Lancia Fulvias were a great success, winning the Italian Rally Championship every year from 1965 to 1973. An unlikely thoroughbred classic.
The Mercedes 190 became the backbone of taxi fleets across Germany. This homologation special, built for the Mercedes assault on the DTM touring car championships, is somewhat faster. The wing on the boot, for example, is not some ostentatious boy racer addition but essential to keep the Mercedes hugging the road as it battled to keep ahead of the field. Under the bonnet is what makes the car really special: a 2.5 litre engine designed by the British boffins at Cosworth, in another era makers of the all-conquering Ford Cosworth Formula One engine. It's not all brawn though: the interior is finished in tasteful tartan cloth.
Fewer than 50 of these muscular grand tourers were made by the hooked-on-power Mercedes modifiers AMG. Their engineers extracted 385 bhp from the mighty V8 under the bonnet, as well as adding the numerous bodywork modifications that turned a discreet sports car into a snarling attention-grabber. Witness the wheel arch blisters, for instance, designed to enclose the massively wide alloy wheels. Happily the interior had an upgrade too: with everything from leather headlining to competition style Recaro seats. There's even real wood on the doors.
All images courtesy of RM Sotheby's.
Check out another automotive beauty – the Porsche 550 Spyder Evocation.
Read all articles from The Garage.
We'll keep you up to date.