We take a look back at the history of the mud-slinging, gravel-spitting WRC as it celebrates its 40th anniversary

Since 1973, the World Rally Championship has been regarded as the ultimate sporting test of man and machine.

It's a championship which has seen the likes of the Colin McRae, Björn Waldegård, Marcus Grönholm and Richard Burns battle it out in the fiercest of conditions.

Virtually every car that has taken part has become an instant motorsports icon, from the purpose-built Lancia Stratos, to the game-changing Audi Quattro and the ever-familiar Subaru Impreza. 

The WRC has seen its coverage and popularity wane since its inception, but it has a dedicated fanbase and continues to attract new entries, including the new Volkswagen Polo WRC.

Hyundai is also preparing an entry for the 2014 season, in the form of its Hyundai i20 WRC, and recent regulation changes look set to increase the sport's appeal to other manufacturers.

Click through the gallery above to view some of the highlights from the past 40 years of the WRC.

Our Verdict

Subaru Impreza

It may not be an obvious choice for most buyers, but this four-wheel-drive, sub-£20k hatch does have merit

Join the debate


8 September 2013

Tommi, Tommi, Tommi Zoom. The Opel Ascona 400, was a big favourite of mine, in Rothmans colours. History shows that Ford have a very poor record in WRC, despite the millions spent, over the past 40 years. Which is quite a shame, given some of their Iconic cars.



Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK