Top Gear’s Top 9: everything’s better with spotlights edition
Got a fast racecar? Great. Want to make it cooler? Just add lights. Lots of lights
Audi Quattro S1
By 1984 Group B was really into its stride, but Audi wasn’t the dominant force it had been in rallying. The smaller, lighter, mid-engined Peugeot 205 T16 had arrived and though Audi was able to capture the 1984 title, the following year it was swept aside by the French contender. Despite this, the Quattro has become a rallying legend, as the ultimate evolution of one of the sport’s greatest ever cars, and of course, for looking splendid when wearing six extra lights.Advertisement - Page continues below
Lancia Delta S4
Another bona fide Group B legend, Lancia’s Delta S4 featured a mid-mounted 1.8-litre engine that was supercharged for low-end torque and turbocharged for crazy power. And because of this twin-charging, it developed an easy 500bhp with relatively short-lived turbo lag. The S4 weighed just 890kg, so it was ferociously quick, but it was just a smidge nose-heavier when fitted with these excellent googly eyes.
Mazda RX-7 Group B
By the time Mazda’s rotary-engined Group B challenger was ready for competition, the series had been cancelled due to its appalling safety record. So, the forests and plains of the World Rally Championship never echoed to the high-pitched shriek of its Wankel motor, and were denied a superb line of spotlights picking their way through the gloom.Advertisement - Page continues below
Not all iconic foglights were a strictly necessary bolt-on for the white heat of motorsport competition. Some just looked cool while you were pulling off an audacious gold bullion heist in broad daylight through central Turin.
Ford Escort RS Cosworth WRC
Escorts and rallying go together like Scotch eggs and a rally fan’s lunchbox, or a woolly bobble hat and a rally fan’s head. So, it’s no surprise to see that Escorts and big droopy tarantula-eyes make a pretty fine combination as well. Textbook.
‘Course, you don’t have to avoid spotlights just because you’re a low-slung, wedgy, pointy-looking car. The Lancia Stratos is one of the all-time greats of the driving-very-quickly-in-the-rough scene, and yet it’s never looked better than when it’s sprouted a line of XXL illumination at the end of its beak. In fact, that sort of treatment would work on a more modern supercar...
Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato
…see what we mean? Lamborghini dreamt up this ‘Dirt’ version of the Huracan by adding a 47mm ride height lift, a 30mm track stretch and 30mm wheelbase increase to a Huracan RWD, for a bit of a laugh. It’s not going on sale. It’s not here to make the Urus look even more ridiculous. It simply exists because Lamborghini has a sense of humour. And of course, it looks cracking covered in new LEDs.Advertisement - Page continues below
McLaren F1 GTR
The very McLaren F1 GTR that won the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours can be distinguished by true motorsport nerds by its dubious plastic surgery sponsorship, and its odd little angled spotlights nestled in the bonnet.
Because the F1 was by no means a purpose-built racer, its headlights weren’t as powerful as the drivers had hoped, so the team running the number 59 had extra lights fitted to the front to help sight the apex during night running. Bet Gordon Murray was furious about the weight they added, right up until the number 59 won the whole race.
All modern WRC cars
Current WRC machines look the business. They all carry savage aerodynamic aids and look evil with intent. Until, you slap on a big row of spotlights, and turn them into a cartoon insect. There’s disagreement in WRC over the merits of halogen or LED lights, but there’s no arguing over how cool these cars look when the apparatus is applied. Lights, camera, action.
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