Understanding the Classes of Rally Cars
Things to look out for before buying an ex-off-road rally car
Cars in this group are typically 4WD, 2-litre turbo-charged ‘showroom’ cars that have been modified for rallying, following regulations set by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile). Restrictions are usually placed on the turbos, with most series allowing 32mm, though some allow 34mm. Modifications may include:
- free ECU
- Removal of the dash, dogboxes,free springs, shocks, trim, and other small items
Second hand cars in Group N tend to be readily available, particularly early Evo 1/2/3s and Imprezas, as well as modern Evos and Imprezas. (Newer models tend to deliver performance somewhat similar to cars in Group A).
Check car history first
If you buy a used rally car get a car check to search for accident damage repair issues that impact car value. You can also check mot history via the gov.uk open-source website. With the V5C log book reference number you can also check MOT test stations who have road tested the car.
Cars in Group A are similar to Group N, as they are based on modified road cars. However, there is considerably more flexibility regarding modifications, including:
- Engine torque is usually much higher due to 34mm restrictors and internal changes being allowed
- Uprated discs, brakes, and hub combinations are allowed, ensuring a greater performance level than the cars in Group N
There are plenty of cars in Group A available on the market. Before making a purchase, it’s important to closely look at the car and its specifications, as it is not unusual to see Group N cars being passed off as Group A.
Cars in Group B are covered by FIA rules developed specifically for rallying in 1982. These cars tend to be some of the most powerful and fastest built before the Group was banned in 1986. These cars have minimum weights ranging from 820kg to 1100kg and 1428cc to 2857cc super/ turbocharged.
Cars in this group are still raced today, though they tend to be very expensive due to their unique history and outstanding performance.
Introduced in 1987, most WRCs are 4WD, turbocharged that are modeled after current cars in production. There are numerous differences between WRCs and the cars they are being modelled off of, including:
- Restrictor power limited to around 330bhp
- Torque ranging from 660 ft-lbs and higher
- Aerodynamic modifications
WRCs must have a minimum weight of 1230kg and are considered to have the ultimate in rallying technology. Cars that are available will be ex-works that may have some factory components altered, yet retain their factory support. Be aware that these cars often have a higher purchase price and running costs.
Cars in this group are subject to strict controls in regards to how they have been modified from the version on the showroom floor. Typically, regulations allow for:
- Safety enhancements, including cutoffs, a cage, extinguishers, and harnesses
- Changes to the air filter, brake pads, shocks, and interior lightening
These cars are production cars that have been slightly modified. They may include the addition of some codriver accessories, a bolt-in cage, and lighting, as well as uprated shocks and lightening of some parts.
This class was introduced in 2000 by the FIA and are production based homologated vehicles. They tend to have lots of modifications, such as:
- The addition of specifically tuned engines with a max power of 230bhp and sequential gearboxes
- Two wheel-drive
- A minimum weight of 980kg, based on valves per cylinder
- A maximum engine size of 1640cc
Most of these cars are work based and include those manufactured by Fiat, Ford, Citroen, Volkswagen, and Suzuki. They maintain their value on the market and are an excellent option for new drivers into the WRC.
Super 2000/ S2000
This group was developed by FIA to decrease the costs associated with holding the Word Rally Championship. They are naturally aspirated, must be Euro168,000 new, 4WD, have no electronic aids for drivers, and have a maximum of 280bhp. They contain a common control driveline and gearbox made by Sadev. Plans are in place for gearboxes manufactured by Ricardo and Xtrac.
Read more: The 6 Best Rally Cars Of All Time