19 of the Most Unlikely Rally Cars

You could go rallying with a Subaru WRX or a Ford Fiesta, but why would you when you could use a Ferrari 308 instead?

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Patrick Beelen via Tuthill Porsche

Recently we asked you what the coolest unlikely rally cars were. As always, there were a ton of responses, but here are the answers we saw repeated the most.

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Robin Adams/RM Sotheby's
Porsche 959

The 959 was one of the most technically advanced road cars of its time, with things like all-wheel drive, TPMS, and a twin-turbo flat-six making over 400 horsepower. Porsche decided to show off the car's capabilities not by taking it racing, but by taking it rallying. This Rothmans-liveried legend is what resulted.

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YouTubeRallylasse1
Ford Mustang

Mustangs can often be seen dominating road courses worldwide, but aren't too popular in the rally world. It might have something to do with that live rear axle. Still, that hasn't stopped a handful of people from throwing in cages and entering events, .

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YouTubeMaxiPixelRallye
Porsche Cayman GT4

Porsche revealed back in August it was testing a Cayman GT4 Clubsport race car in rally spec, and that if the car got enough positive feedback, it'd be put into production. Porsche hasn't any announcement yet, but we know at least one exists.

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YouTubeThe Drive
Nissan 240SX

The 240SX has made a name for itself as a cheap used car drifting legend, but it turns out it in a stage rally as well. A balanced rear-wheel drive platform and long wheel base means sliding through corners is made simple.

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Jaguar
Jaguar F-Type

While the F-Type makes a great sports car, the last thing we'd think to use it for is gravel jumps—especially the convertible version. But Jaguar went ahead and built a fully caged four-cylinder F-Type rally car anyway, and it's awesome.

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YouTubeTuthill Porsche
Porsche 914-6

You'd think a mid-engine layout and a targa roof would hinder the 914's ability to be a competent rally car, yet Tuthill Porsche's 914-6 looks right at home tackling snow-covered stages in true WRC fashion.

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YouTubeOrkofono
BMW E30 M3

The first-gen M3 is heralded as one of the greatest-handling cars ever to hit the road, but it's equally as capable of the pavement. Drivers like Patrick Snijers raced them in-period with success, jumping and drifting his car dozens of times in the process.

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Land Rover Discovery

Land Rovers are great at off-roading, but we didn't suspect them to be this good at tackling performance stages. This Discovery is powered by an M3 engine, and has no problem getting sideways.

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Bonhams
Ferrari 308

While Ferrari built race cars before Enzo Ferrari ever considered making a street car, they're not typically seen sliding around on dirt. That wrong was righted with the Ferrari 308, which was homologated for rally in Group 4 and Group B classes.

Why watch Magnum P.I. reruns when you can scour YouTube for videos of 308 rally cars tearing up dirt stages, flat-plane V8s wailing? Fantastic.

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Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC

What do you do when you're Mercedes-Benz in the late-1970s and you want to go rallying, but your sportiest car is a luxury cruiser that isn't very sporty? You take the C107 SLC Coupe rallying anyways.

In an era dominated by nimble cars like the Lancia Stratos and Ford Escort, the 450SLC must have been quite a sight, but Mercedes . Mercedes won the 1978 South American rally and was able to get 4th place in a Manufacturers Championship.

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Getty ImagesEvening Standard
Mini Cooper

We take rally cars based off front-wheel-drive subcompacts for granted now, but the Mini Cooper was the first of the breed. The humble Mini was originally designed to be an affordable city car, but others .

Race car engineer John Cooper took a 997cc engine out of one of his Formula Junior racers and fitted disc brakes to the Mini to create the Mini Cooper. In hotter Cooper S form, the Mini won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967, setting the template for all rally cars to come.

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Aston Martin V8 Vantage

God bless . It's a new class for rallying designed to get GT racers homologated for rally competition. One of the nuttiest products of R-GT is this, the V8 Vantage rally car.

A group of Finnish tuners a rally car out of a V8 Vantage race car and it's spectacular. Where you'd normally expect an Aston to cruise around Monaco, this one is on tiny snow tires getting sideways. God bless FIA R-GT.

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BMW via FavCars
BMW M1

Not much is known about the BMW M1 rally car other than the fact that it exists, but that alone warrants inclusion. BMW intended its mid-engined supercar for competition, but not Group B competition.

That didn't stop this straight-six masterpiece from entering rallies in the early 80s. Set aside some time to of the M1 rally car in action, and thank us later.

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FlickrGeorg Sander
Lotus Exige R-GT

Like the Aston Martin V8 Vantage showcased earlier, the spectacular Lotus Exige rally car is a product of R-GT, but this one was built by Lotus itself. It appeared in one Portuguese Rally in 2012, but it has since to return to competition.

We can only hope Lotus reapproaches rally once it gets its financial trouble squared away.

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Getty ImagesCentral Press
Saab 96

Early Saabs with their two-stroke engines were not designed with competition in mind, but found rally success at the hands of .

He won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1962 and 1963 in a 96, perfecting the art of left-foot braking, just to keep the revs of the two-stroke three-cylinder up.

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CarClassic
Rolls-Royce Corniche

The ultimate Grey Poupon car, except sideways on dirt. Funded by Christian Dior and his Jules fragrance, the Corniche rally car competed in the fearsome Paris-Dakar.

In truth, there's very little Rolls-Royce to the Corniche rally car: it's a tubular chassis fitted with a four-wheel-drive system from a Toyota Land Cruiser and a small-block Chevy V8. But, it looks like a Rolls, and that's what counts.

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Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube
Oldsmobile Cutlass

Say hello to The Banshee, a jacked up dirt racer wearing Oldsmobile Cutlass bodywork. Actor James Garner built this car in the early 1970s and it's fantastic. A grandmother's car made insane.

Jay Leno recently had a go in it for his YouTube channel and he has more fun than we've seen him in any other car.

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Getty ImagesAFP/AFP
Citroën DS

You might think a delicate French car built for comfort and comfort alone doesn't belong in rally, but you'd be wrong. The Citroën DS' hydraulic suspension, designed to iron out bumps on the road, worked beautifully on rough rally stages.

It won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1959 and 1966 and was competitive up until the mid-1970s, just as DS production ended. Pretty good for a big, temperamental luxury car.

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Makela Auto Tuning
Porsche 911 GT3

Porsche 911s have appeared in rally competition since the beginning of their production, but rally 911s haven't been a common sight since the 1980s. Thankfully R-GT fixed that, allowing the 996 and 997 GT3 to be homologated for rally.

UK dealer campaigns a 997 GT3 Cup in World Rally Championship and its's exactly as great as you think it is.

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