1985 Renault 5 Turbo II Rally Car

In an earlier post about the Lotus Cortina I explained the idea of homologation – whereby manufacturers must build and sell a minimum number of cars to the public in order to qualify as a “production car.” Here we have another example of a factory-built race car that was sold to the public, and this one is even more extreme.

It’s called the Renault 5 Turbo II and like many of the cars I have covered recently, this is another rare specimen from Cars and Coffee. So what’s the deal with this car, and how did it come to be?

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1966 Lotus Cortina MkI

Bentley. Aston Martin. Jaguar. Lotus.

They’re all British car companies, but more importanly, they all have factory-sponsored racing teams. For decades, these companies have battled it out on the racetrack in everything from Formula 1 racing to grand touring to group racing.

What these companies would typically do is take one of their production cars and modify it to compete in a specific class of racing. There is one catch, though. Auto manufacturers are required to build a minimum number of vehicles and sell them to the public in order to classify as a production car. This practice, known as homologation, means that a small number of factory-built race cars will make it out into the real world – completely road legal. This is exactly what happened in the 1960s with the Lotus Cortina.

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1984 Toyota Celica GT Rally Car

There is a car show held once a month in Scottsdale where people gather to drink coffee and show off their high-end exotic cars. I skipped right past the rows of Ferraris and Porsches to go check out this 1984 Toyota Celica GT (yes, seriously).

I took one look at the car and could tell right away that something special was going on here. For one thing, it’s a lifted car! Aside from an AMC Eagle or a Subaru rally car, you don’t often see cars with this much ground clearance! I snapped some photos and looked around for the owner who was nowhere to be found.

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CES 2013: Ken Block’s 630HP Fiesta from Gymkhana 5

If the name Ken Block doesn’t sound familiar to you, you might want to get to a computer and search YouTube for the word “Gymkhana.” Mr. Block has popularized the sport of gymkhana, which is sort of like gymnastics for your car.

Think of Gymkhana (jim-kah-nuh) as a more advanced version of autocross. In traditional autocross, drivers hone their skills by trying to set the best time around a track while avoiding obstacles such as cones. With Gymkhana, the goal is the same, however the courses are much more challenging and require precise moves such as drifting, 180-degree and 360 degree spins, figure 8s, and all sorts of other automotive acrobatics.

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