Making your drive awesome, even without the pace notes

You gotta love racing. In the push for ultimate glory and a top-of-the-podium finish, automakers will do just about anything. Produce a sports car with the aesthetic of a shoebox? Sure! Completely ignore comfort in favor of a few extra tenths? No problem! Make a product that’s wildly overpriced and completely impractical in just about every conceivable way? Hell, Ferrari’s been doing it for decades.

However, with the unique pressures of each racing series comes a unique breed of cars. Drag racing makes muscle cars, while circuit racing makes mid-engine exotics.

This list gravitates towards the dirty stuff, where names like Tommi Makinen, Colin McRae, Walter Rohrl, and Sebastien Loeb are uttered in hushed reverence. This is the land of mud-flinging power slides and sky-scraping crests. This is TopSpeed’s Top 5 Rally-Bred Street Machines.

Continue reading to learn more about TopSpeed’s Top 5 Rally-Bred Street Machines.

Number 5 – Peugeot 205 Turbo 16

TopSpeed's Top 5 Rally-Bred Street Machines
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Here’s one of the really cool things about rally cars – they don’t care about your opinion when it comes to aesthetics and style. No, these cars are all about one thing – speed.

Case in point – the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16. Produced to compete under the infamous Group B regulations of the World Rally Championship, the 205 T16 uses a high-powered, turbocharged, 16-valve four-cylinder engine. This powerplant was moved from the nose to the middle for better weight distribution, ditching the rear seats in the process. Power is sent to all four corners.

Per Group B homologation, Peugeot actually made a street legal variant, which boasts 200 horsepower, that mid-mounted layout, and the same love-it-or-leave-it box styling.

Number 4 – Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Final Edition
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Once relegated to just the Japanese market, the Evo finally expanded beyond the Land of the Rising Sun in 1998, eventually coming stateside in 2003. In total, ten generations were produced, each gaining the appropriate Roman numeral as an identifier (Evolution VIII, Evolution IX, etc.).

Power is derived from a front-mounted inline four-cylinder engine, which sends the grunt to the ground through a robust AWD system. Power varies from model to model, with some limited editions laying down as much as 400 horses – not bad for a four-door sedan. Unfortunately, Mitusbishi halted production in 2016, prompting salty tears from fan boys worldwide.

Read the full review here.

Number 3 – Subaru WRX

2015 - 2016 Subaru WRX High Resolution Exterior
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The Subaru WRX is arguably the best-known rally-bred street car in the world. Four generations have been produced since the car’s introduction in the early ‘90s, and a fifth-generation is expected soon. Through the years, the WRX (and its big brother, the STI) have been offered in a multitude of body styles, including a sedan, wagon, coupe, and hatchback. Stuffed with AWD and a performance-oriented cabin, this Scooby is a boy racer’s dream – especially when it’s rocking a huge spoiler out back and a hood scoop big enough to swallow a pinecone. Add a dollop of loping turbo flat-four goodness, and you end up with a classic.

Read the full review here.

Number 2 – Audi Quattro

1981 - 1991 Audi Quattro
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1980-1991 Audi Quattro

So far, each of the cars on this list use all four wheels to get the power down, and this German product is the reason. When the Audi Quattro made its competition debut in 1980, AWD systems were considered too heavy and complicated for racing. The Quattro promptly changed that perception, winning its first-ever race and going on to dominate in later seasons.

Like the race car, the street Quattro uses a turbo five-cylinder engine, which produces around 200 horsepower for civilian duty. North American sales started in 1983.

Read the full review here.

Number 1 – Lancia Stratos HF Stradale

TopSpeed's Top 5 Rally-Bred Street Machines
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Prior to the Quattro’s AWD revolution, the Lancia Stratos managed to cement its position as a true rally legend. This thing breaks the mold of this list from every angle – not only is it gorgeous to look at, but its RWD prowess actually managed to overcome the unyielding AWD flood of the ‘80s (for a little while, at least). It’s also got a V-6 from Ferrari, which helped propel it to multiple championship titles.

These days, this speed wedge is one of the most iconic old-school racers in the world, with some examples going for well over a half-million bucks at auction.

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