Dream Convoy: 6 Homologation Specials On The Way To A Concours
Story and Photography by Jonathan Harper
It’s 6:30 am on June 5th, somewhere just outside New York City. I’m on a quiet street lined with row houses, and a nondescript double garage door rattles up to reveal six of the most desireable, unattainable, and just plain bonkers cars from the golden age of homologation racing.
In order to enter a vehicle into certain racing series from the mid ’70s to early ’90s, a manufacturer had to build a certain number of road-going vehicles on which their racing machine would be based. In order to give themselves the proper competitive edge, manufacturers began pumping out what amounted to very aggressive race cars disguised as street-legal road cars.
Sitting front and center is the Lancia Delta S4, with its massive side intakes gaping on either side of the rear windows and soft-to-the-touch fine Italian leather interior. To one side, a brilliant blue wedge of Lancia Stratos sits and to the other, a one-of-15 Porsche 924 GTS with full race appointments. Just behind, the orange BMW M1 waits, flanked by a Lancia 037 and the boy-racer-winged Mercedes-Benz 190E Evo II. This must be what heaven looks like.
In the words of owner Phil Toledano, “A homologation car is designed for racing. It was designed for reason and purpose, and it’s incredibly romantic.” As Phil puts six sets of keys in a hat and invites his buddies to grab a set at random for today’s drive, he quickly explains the nuances of each vehicle: “The S4 and 037 have race clutches so it’s essentially on/off. The Stratos will give you massive lift-oversteer so just don’t lift. The 924 GTS turbo comes in hard, be careful.”
And with that…we hit the road. The destination was the 2016 Greenwich Concours D’Elegance, where Phil’s stable would comprise the entirety of the homologation corral. The cars look incredible parked all together on the concours lawn, a drastically different feel than the polished chrome and wood accoutrements inhabiting the neighboring British touring corral.
Hours later, with two winning ribbons in his pocket as he downshifts the BMW M1 on the way home, Phil took a moment to reflect on the day. “Look,” he says, “if you have a couple of cars, how much better could it be, than with your friends in those cars all driving up together? To see them on the road, to hear them go past you, the sound of them, to see them in motion. That’s the thing for me, sitting around the lawn, that’s nothing. But driving, and all your friends driving together, that’s a thing.”