What is "homologation"? What's a "homologation special"? And why are these homologation specials so ... special? It all comes down to racing. Most series for production-based cars require manufacturers to build a certain number of a certain type of car before they can take it racing. Such regulations are intended to preserve a connection between the cars in the showroom and the cars in the pit lane (or rally stages), and that process of approval is called homologation. Oftentimes, the road-going versions are exotic in their own right and have more in common with their race car relatives than anything else in the company's lineup.
Homologation specials are also typically quite rare. Manufacturers usually only build as many cars as they needed to in order to go racing, sometimes as few as a couple hundred examples. Rarity combined with racing or rally pedigree usually translates to collectibility in this hobby, and RM Sotheby's has consigned a group of six cars it's billing as "The Homologation Collection" for its Arizona auction next January.
Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/auctions/5-rare-homologation-collection-specials-rm-sothebys-2020/
Because I can't resist, this Quatro did quite well for itself at auction back in 2014. It sold for £38,598.00 GBP
Audi Quattro's are not a bad car, but $40+ for an upgraded Scirocco (yes, I know there were only several hundred exported to the US) ? There are better cars for that kind of money in my wishlist.
Not listed here, but for me it would have to be a Ferrari 288 GTO. Many years ago now I drove a car hauler for a Ferrari restoration shop as a one off hire for a couple of events. The owner of the shop had a customer appreciation day at the West Point Military Academy that I hauled a couple of car to for him. I got to be around some fantastic cars that day. One of his customers brought his 288. To this day it lives in my memories as one of the most intoxicating looking and sounding cars I have ever been around. I say that almost 20 years removed from seeing it that day.
What about the Lotus X180R, which Lotus had to build 20 street versions to compete in the IMSA supercar series? It's the last factory built Lotus racecar to win a major Pro championship.
The most famous "homologation special" of all, the Porsche 930. This turbocharged 911 brought out the Porsche 934, the Porsche 935. Expensive, to be sure, but there is no other cars on your list that has stirred enthusiasm more.
Personally, I'd go for a 1983 Volvo Flathood Turbo. Then the *real* question would be whether I should preserve the example as delivered, one of 500. Or strip the street car and move it towards the actual race car and take it racing.
I'm not aware of any racing in the US although most of the delivered cars did come to the USA.
One European "homologation" car that doesn't seem to be getting the respect it deserves lately is the Mercedes 450slc 5.0 (1978/79) or the 500slc (1980/81) as it became known as later. Both models were essentially the same car, the 500slc had a 4 speed automatic, sadly never a standard shift. They were built to "homologate" the Mercedes slc for road rallies, with some success, as I recall. There were only about 1200 made and only sold in Europe, but a few models made it into the USA. They were among the very first cars with the venerable M117 5.0 liter aluminum motor, and featured a aluminum hood and trunk lid (and perhaps doors...). The rear axle was a 2.71 ratio and good for 140 mph on the roads of Germany. I owned a 1979 450slc 5.0 that I used driving and for MBCA track and autocross events. I drove the car several times at Mid-Ohio, mildly modified with a true dual exhaust with flow through mufflers, a rear LSD axle ratio increased to 3.46 from a MB sedan, Bilstein adjustable shocks, high performance brake pads, and a set of fresh Hoosier racing tires on 16" BBS rims. The car was a blast to drive and absolutely screamed down the back straight as only a V8 can do. I had much pleasure passing $100k AMG cars with ABS, etc., and turned sub 2 minute laps, which is quite respectable to Mid-Ohio. I think these cars deserve to appreciate greatly in the years to come. I kept all the parts to return it to stock (I still have the BBS wheels as used on the factory rally cars), but sold it a few years back online back to Europe as I recall. Great memories. An awesome car with a little tweaking, and bullet proof, as I can personally attest.
I read your comment and had to admit that I wasn't sure which car the SLC represented. I Googled it and found a very interesting article on the "truthaboutcars" website. I would have never known the success those cars enjoyed without first seeing your comment. Thanks for the learning opportunity. I have a new found respect for the car.
If we have ONLY these five to consider, I would go with the Audi Quatro. I have seen these in rally configuration and they certainly look fantastic in that scenario.
Other than the couple of the Mercedes models, I would bet (maybe even real money...) that few, or even none of the other models, won any battles with Mother Rust.
Especially those makes/models... I'd ride in one only to treat iron deficiency.
I wish homologation racing would make a comeback. Alas nobody races fat FWD SUV and exciting affordable cars are going the way of the dodo. Hard to imagine going to an Audi, bmw or Benz dealer and finding a stripped out racing special available. The 911 gt3 is the closest but hardly in the same category as a 3 series.
FIA, how about a return to group a touring cars again?
I'm not sure the Fulvia is really a homologation special. What rules was it built to exploit? The SEC certainly isn't. If there aren't racing rules being conformed with creatively by making something a production part or configuration, than no car is a homologation car. For example, the Mini Cooper S 970 was a homologation car, built to make the S eligible for under 1 liter racing. The Mini Cooper S 1275 was built for the market, not to conform with a racing class. They just couldn't figure out how to make a bigger displacement A-series engine reliable, so the 1275 wasn't a homologation special no matter how many were raced.
The Quattro absolutely. It started the 4x4 "car" revolution after all and was so insane in the World Rally Gruppe B series, they pretty much ended it because it dominated so well and the fools who lined the rally way too close to the cars going by at 120+ died. But gotta agree with @Whiplash, I expected the Porsche 959 to be here and it's not? That would be even more crazy to drive than the Quattro.
While not part of the auction mentioned in the article, my favorite homologation specials of all time would have to be Porsche’s 911 GT-1/98 and Toyota’s GT-One. Both used “creative interpretation” of the rules to arrive at their design solutions and both discovered that not 100, not 50, not 25, but just one, ridiculous road going example had to be built for homologation.
Ferrari’s 250 LM has to earn an honorable mention here too simply for the size of Enzo’s cojones.
Craziest Homologation Story honors though have to go to the Dauer 962 Le Mans. Dauer 962 Le Mans’ started life as retired Porsche 962 Group C race cars. The old nags were then lightly civilized and put out to pasture as road legal super cars. After a rules change at Le Mans favored “production” cars, Dauer - with a little help from his friends.....at Porsche - converted 962 Le Mans road cars back into their (mostly) Group C configuration and raced them as GT cars, winning Le Mans outright in 1994 and proving once again you can teach an old race car new tricks!