When you think of the world of rallying and the classic rally car, I expect you probably envisage the hay day of British success back in the sixties with the great Paddy Hopkirk in his iconic Mini Cooper or perhaps Hannu Mikkola in the World class Ford Escort Mexico Special, great cars, great champions of rallying history.
But what wouldn’t spring to mind perhaps are prestige manufacturers like Bentley and Rolls Royce or even Ferrari for that matter who are just a few of the not so main stream classic rally cars we have seen over the years and believe it or not some of them were successful.
More common on the dirt and gravel than most people think the Porsche 911 had great success in World Rallying, particularly in the late sixties when British driver and co driver Vic Elford & David Stone drove the classic rally car to victory in the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally. In fact if it hadn’t been for Vic Elford this might not have ever happended. The British Racer was so adamant that the Porsche would be competitive he single-handedly took a loaned 911 on the 1966 Tour of Corsica and finished an impressive third. Porsche went on to win Monte Carlo in 1969 & 1970 with the 911S an outstanding achievement indeed.
Ferrari 308 GTB
The last thing on Enzo Ferrari’s mind in 1977 would have been rallying. That is until he met Giuliano Michelotto a young engineer who had his heart set on just that, rallying the latest Ferrari 308 GTB.
Michelotto’s idea was to pitch a group B rally prepared Ferrari against the dominant Lancia Stratos. And as he had worked on the Stratos himself as an engineer he thought the Ferrari 308 GTB had the makings of a successful rally competitor. The Ferrari was an instant success securing victory on its first outing at the 1984 Osona Rally. Sadly the car only competed in three events. Today the Ferrari 308 GTB is indeed recognised as a classic rally car.
Rolls-Royce are the epitome of elegance and class in the motoring world. However even the height of luxury needs to get low down and dirty from time to time.
Introducing Thierry De Montcorge who back in 1981 entered a modified Rolls-Royce Corniche Coupe into the 10,000 KM long Paris-Dakar Rally. The main sponsor for this classic rally car was the illustrious French fashion house of Christian Dior in particular what must have been a new fragrance at the time, hence the Corniche’s nick name of “Jules”. Amazingly this glamorous rally virgin was one of only forty cars to cross the finish line despite being disqualified after the steering axle broke.
Aston Martin DB5
The most famous of Aston’s, the DB5 is a movie star amongst classic cars. In fact so much so you would half expect this refined character would have a stunt double for such undertakings as the Peking to Paris endurance rally.
Never the less in 2010 specialists R.S.Williams prepared the Aston Martin DB5 for the 10,000 mile event as a classic rally car. Modifications such as suspension and brake upgrades were included along with three spare tyres and the added bonus driver/owner Adrian Gosden and Andrew Honychurch as co driver. Having successfully completed this gruelling event it certainly proved that the Aston Martin DB5 could mix it with all comers what ever the conditions. James Bond, eat your heart out!