Rally of Gods: 5 cars to conquer the Acropolis
Greece means many things to many people: Keftedes and broken china; an ancient civilization that gave birth to democracy… or, to some, the ‘Rally of Gods’, the fearsome Acropolis Rally. For over 50 years, the rally’s stifling dust and ultra-rough terrain have challenged the likes of Colin McRae, Walter Röhrl, Juha Kankkunen and Stig Blomqvist, to name but a few. The Acropolis demands a special breed of both car and driver to overcome its severe physical and mental challenges; and the cars below showed the right pedigree for the job.
Peugeot 205 Group B: End of an era
Before a series of fatal crashes in 1986 brought an abrupt end to the Group B era, Peugeot’s 205 T16 was a dominating force in the World Rally Championship. It won the Acropolis in both 1985 and 1986, using its immensely powerful turbocharged engine and ultra-lightweight chassis to overcome the strain of the Greek terrain.
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Audi Quattro: 4WD revolution
When the Quattro burst onto the world rally stage with its revolutionary four-wheel-drive system, it seemed all but unbeatable. The Quattro won the Acropolis in 1982 and 1984 – piloted by Michèle Mouton and Stig Blomqvist respectively – while Audi’s 4WD wonder scooped the World Rally Championship victories in both those years.
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Ford Escort: Tuneability
Björn Wåldegard and Ari Vatanen won two Acropolis Rallies apiece, steering the iconic Ford Escort. The popular family saloon’s immense rallying success can be attributed to its straightforward mechanicals and the ease with which it can be tuned.
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Alpine A110: The power behind
The combination of grunty, rear-mounted, four-cylinder engine and short, exploitable wheelbase made the might Alpine A110 the ideal machine to tackle the twisty mountain roads above Athens. No wonder it conquered the Acropolis three times: in 1970 and 1973, under Jean-Luc Thérier’s control, and in 1971 with Ove Andersson at the wheel.
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Lancia Delta Integrale: Champion of champions
The most successful car in the history of rallying, the Lancia Delta Integrale won the Acropolis a whopping five times between 1987 and 1995. This particular car won the 1995 (non-WRC) event, piloted by ‘Aris’ Vovos and Kostas Stefanis: the first Greek victory in 40 years and only the fourth in history. Perhaps more importantly, this Integrale scored the 78th and final overall victory for Lancia in a World Championship rally.
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Photos: Classic Driver dealers / auction houses