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Homologation specials, and why they are the lifeblood of the car enthusiast

Homologation specials, and why they are the lifeblood of the car enthusiast

By Brian Brawley

Once upon a time, in a far, distant land; there existed cars. Road cars and race cars alike, they were one in the same. One could drive to the shops during the week and win the Gran Prix on the weekend with the same car. Over time though, the race car began to evolve, whilst rules required more and more set parameters, the race car became purpose built while the road car became more comfortable and safer. The need for speed and competition gave way to bespoke prototype chassis, exotic engine configurations, and the notion of race on Sunday, sell on Monday was becoming nothing more than a pipe dream. There was a small little niche however. Many racing series still required Homologation; meaning production-based race cars in order to compete. Thanks to this now dying niche, we have seen not only some of the most impractical, yet functional; but some of the most amazing road cars to ever leave a factory. These cars were essentially race-ready cars with turn signals and plates. Listed here are three very influential Homologation specials not only in their own time, but today.

o6h9uqow2BMW E30 M3

Engineered from their fresh E30 3 series, the first and best M3 was designed from the ground up to compete in Group A where the dying M635CSi would have failed. Far fetched from its E30 siblings, the M3 featured box fenders, a more rigid chassis, a completely redesigned C pillar, and aggressive spoilers. Not only did BMW M lower the drag coefficient, but also made the car miles more stable. 5-lug hubs, larger brakes, and wider wheels were in order to keep the legendary S14b23 spinning shiny-side up. Lightweight, tossable, and precise while producing roughly 200bhp from 2.3 litres of naturally aspirated nirvana; the M3 went on to become one of the winningest cars in Group A, and while modern M cars live in the shadow of their former glory, the E30 M3 put them on the map.

 

 

1994_Mitsubishi_Lancer_Evolution_II_rally_004_1871Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

While we never saw the Evo hit our shores until its eighth iteration, many of us knew through our days beforehand of Gran Turismo what a Lancer Evolution is. With the Galant VR-4 becoming large and no longer competitive, Mitsubishi decided to stuff its guts into its new Lancer platform. Unknown to them, they created a Group A monster, and a legend in name for many years to come. With 244bhp on tap from the proven 4G63, AWD, and viscous limited slip differential, the nimble little Evo dominated in dirt and tarmac alike. With every generation becoming greater and greater, the Evo ripened with age until Group A became the WRC, and homologation was no longer required. Mitsubishi still followed through with Evo, but none were as knife edged and hardcore as the early cars.

 

 

audi-sport-quattro-11Audi Sport Quattro

Probably one of the most influential homologation specials of all time. The Sport Quattro took the victory streak of the UrQuattro to an entirely new level and changed Group B forever. With a foot of length cut from its wheelbase, the Sport Quattro was wider, and more aggressive. Sporting the quirky, yet phenomenal 20V turbocharged inline-five bombshell, the Sport Quattro put 306bhp to the ground via all four wheels. The car was lighter than its UrQuattro brother too, sporting a healthy amount of Kevlar in its bodywork allowing a 4.5 0-60 time. Audi might be a little too focused on LED headlamps nowadays, but they knew how to make one hell of a hardcore brute.

 

 

Homologation specials are limited number production cars by default, as race organizers only required a certain number production run. These cars were knife-edged, purpose built, and extreme. These cars command very high prices today and with very good reason. Cars like the Evo and M3 still exist today, but strictly as road cars as homologation has all but completely died off. These cars have become big and bloated, yielding to safety standards, tech amenities, and statistic sheets. Without homologation, it seems like new cars become less and less interesting. Shifting from crazy short wheelbase, large turbo, mid-engined hatchbacks; to big, comfortable, tech-ridden hybrid barges. It’s the end of an era, and a glorious era at that.

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