Rally Cars 1970s - SAAB, Lancia, Fiat,Alpine,Ford
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This guide features a selection of classic rally cars from the seventies. Included are the models that were to dominate the world of international rallying during the decade, such as Lancia's Stratos, Ford's Escort and Fiat's 131 Abarth.
Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF
The Fulvia HF was active from 1966 onwards, but its greatest year was 1972, when it won the title, and the Morocco, Monte Carlo and san Remo rallies. The HF engine, ahead of the front axle, was a V4 1584cc twin overhead camshaft version developing 160bhp at 7200rpm. It had front-wheel-drive, with the gearbox in a block with differential.
Ford Escort RS1600
During the 70s, the Ford Escort in its various forms, was always a potential rally winner. The Twin-cam was the company's first front-line car from 1968 to 1971, followed by the 16-valve RS 1600 which was in evidence until 1975. The restled RS1800, first used in 1975, was transformed (by homologation, not by engineering) into the 2-litre RS in 1977, and gradually improved until the end 1979.
Alpine-Renault A110 1800
From its first appearance in 1962 with a 44bhp 956cc engine, the A110 survived until 1977, the most powerful of all versions appearing in 1974 with as much as 187bhp at 7,200rpm in rally form (1800cc). In 1971, a team of 1.6-litre engined Alpines won the world championship for makes in convincing manner, beating Porsche on the Monte, Lancia and Fiat in the San Remo and everyone on a hot and dusty Acropolis. One of the great rally cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Winning the World Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976, the Stratos was the first car to be designed speciffically for rallying. The engine was centrally mounted with a very short wheelbase and independent all-round suspension. The V6, 2,418cc engine was developed from the Ferrari Dino, and the original version developed 245bhp at 8,500rpm. The plastic body weighed just 890kg.
Fiat Abarth 131
The Fiat 131 Abarth was a true "homologation special", since only 400 were built, all of them in 1976. Incorporating all the lessons learned with the 124 Spider, the 131 had more power thanks to fuel injection, better rear suspension and lavish Abarth facilities. The "works" team won the World Rally Championship in 1977, 1978 and 1980.
Ford Escort RS1800
The Ford Escort RS1600 was replaced in 1975 by the Escort RS 1800, with a different body style but virtually the same running gear. Homologated for sporting purposes by May 1975, the RS1800 was conventional in every way, but it kept Ford on the winners' list right through to the end of 1970s, culminating in the World Rally Championship for Manufacturers in 1979. That same year Bjorn Waldegard became the sport's first official World Rally Champion driver, ahead of team mate Hannu Mikkola.