1. Nissan Skyline GTS-4
The GTS-4 is to the Skyline GTS-t what the Carrera 4 is to the 911 Carrera. It uses the smaller 158kW/265Nm 2.0-litre turbo six from the GTS-t but mates it to the suspension and ATTESA all-wheel drive system from its GT-R big brother.
2. Ford Laser TX3
Ford’s popular 1980s small car spawned the hot TX3, which used a 100kW 1.6-litre turbo four. It was available in front- or all-wheel drive, and would live on in the next Laser series (KF-KH), then with a 117kW 1.8-litre four mated exclusively to AWD.
3. Subaru Leone Turbo
The grandfather of the iconic Subaru WRX, the Leone RX Turbo was a proper off-roader, with decent ground clearance and a low-range gearbox. It kickstarted the late, great Possum Bourne’s international rallying career, specialising in endurance events.
4. Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
Developed to satisfy Group A regulations, the high-tech VR-4 used a 177kW 2.0-litre turbo engine, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and even active suspension. Too big to be an effective rally car, it nonetheless won six WRC events.
5. Audi s3
Introduced in 1999, the initial 154kW S3 was fast but safe – too safe. An upgrade to 165kW and chassis tweaks in 2002 brought it to life, scoring sixth at PCOTY 2003. Examples can now be found for as little as $5500 – a lot of car for the money.
6. Bluebird SSS-R
George Fury proved a Nissan Bluebird could be plenty exciting, but factory efforts weren’t so thrilling. Except this SSS-R – essentially a factory-spec rally car with a 136kW 1.8-litre turbo engine and the first version of the ATTESA AWD system.
7. Mazda 323 GT
Another handy rally car (sense a theme here?), the 323 tasted some success at WRC level, though the commitment its smaller 1.6-litre turbo engine required led to some big crashes, earning it the nickname the Mazda ‘Tree-to-tree’.
8. Nissan Pulsar GTi-R
Nissan built this AWD, turbocharged version of the N14 Pulsar to go rallying, but it wasn’t very good at it, the pin being pulled after just nine events. Problems were many, but the heavy 2.0-litre engine gave it the reputation of being a ‘lead-tipped arrow’.
9. Subaru Liberty RS
Sure, the Subaru WRX helped, but the Liberty RS is the car that really put Subaru on the map. The performance made it a massive target for thieves, however those that survived have proved very durable. Getting rare now, though, especially in wagon form.