Journal: These Are The Top All-Wheel Drive Classic Cars Ever

These Are The Top All-Wheel Drive Classic Cars Ever

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
August 22, 2014
21 comments

We asked you which car was the greatest classic all-wheel drive auto ever built. And I don’t think we’ve ever had such unanimity in the answers to one of our questions before. Basically, it came down to one of two cars: The Audi Quattro and its variations and the Lancia Delta and its variations. If we’re being honest, those two are really the greatest whereas the rest simply receive honorable mentions. It was so unanimous in fact that there are really only seven choices. And please bear in mind that we asked about all-wheel drive, not four-wheel drive, discounting cars such as the Willys Jeep.

#7 Jensen FF–The Jensen was the first modern car equipped with all-wheel drive, and was named for it too: Ferguson Formula, after the company that devised its AWD system (Ferguson Research). It never raced and only about 320 of them were ever built, but this car launched the breed.

#6 Hurst Hairy Olds–This was a bonkers exhibition drag racer built with General Motor’s help and intended to show off GM’s new chain-driven automatic transaxle (used in the 1966 production Oldsmobile Toronado). The car was equipped with not one but two (!) 7.0L V8s, producing around 1000hp each. Each engine powered the front wheels and rear wheels, respectively, through a dedicated transaxle. Why was it called the “hairy” Olds? Due to the copious torque-steer generated by the front transaxle, extreme amounts of tire smoke that limited visibility, and the unloading of the front wheels which caused the front engine to over-rev. Certainly not for the faint of heart.

Photography by Yoav Gilad for Petrolicious

#5 Nissan Skyline R32–Once again, the Skyline R32 just makes it onto the list having debuted in 1989. It dominated the JTCC (Japanese Touring Car Championship) and it won Bathurst in ’91 and ’92 earning it the nickname “Godzilla” from the Australian press. “The monster from Japan” is truly a car to be reckoned with.

#4 Porsche 959–Nowadays, every virtually every supercar is equipped with AWD, but less than thirty years ago rear-wheel drive was the name of the game. The first supercar to change that was the amazing Porsche 959. Designed to compete in Group B rallying, it had to have AWD to compete on the same level and when the street car was released it too had AWD. Sadly, Group B rallying went away before its racing counterpart (the 961) was able to establish a name for itself otherwise it might sit atop this list.

#3 Peugeot 205 T16–Built for homologation purposes, the road going T16 had less than half the power of the Group B rally version. But as a Group B racer, the 205 T16 was immensely successful, winning the World Rally Championship (constructors’ and drivers’) two years in a row, 1985 and ’86, until Group B was retired.

#2 Audi Quattro–In all of their variations the Audi Quattros were superlative. Whether driven by Ms. Michèle Mouton or Mr. Walter Röhrl, the car was a force. It won the WRC Constructors’s trophy twice (’82 and ’84) and the Drivers’ trophy twice as well (’83 and ’84). Coupled with a terrific, hair-raising soundtrack and beautiful livery, the Quattros are unforgettable.

Photography by Daniil Matyash for Petrolicious

and, finally… #1 Lancia Delta–Some variation of the Lancia Delta won the WRC four out of five years in a row (1987-’89, 1991). So yes, the Audi Quattro was an amazing racer. But the Lancia Delta was twice as successful. And in the hands of Messrs. Juha Kankkunen or Miki Biasion it was effectively unbeatable. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the best classic AWD car ever.

Image Sources: thejensenff.com, curbsideclassics.com, 2009gtr.com, TheDriversDaily.comAutoTrendReview.blogspot.com

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Kompani101
Kompani101

Not many American cars.

Jim
Jim

Where the fuck is the escort cosworth on the list you muppet? Not to mention the imprezas and evos!! I call you twatwaffle sir

De Dion
De Dion

Mentioning Quattro and not mentioning Hannu Mikkola is criminal. He was the development driver and the the world champion. The whole article is a dissapointment

delta_domenica
delta_domenica

Technically the Delta is 4wd not AWD, and don’t forget it won the WRC for manufacturers from 87-92 = six consecutive years, still unbeaten.

dave_stew
dave_stew

I’m sorry, but this is nonsense. When the FIA allowed four wheel drive in rallying in 1979, it was Audi that brought their revolutionary quattro to the fore. Ford was developing the RS1700T to replace its successful but aging Escort, Lancia the 037 Rallye to replace the Fiat 131. Both rear wheel drive. Once the impact of the quattro was felt, all the main protagonists developed 4 wheel drive cars. This culminated in the Group B brutes which were banned. Lancia had the Group A Integrale to use in 87, and with Ford stuck with the intially rear drive Sierra… Read more »

moosesport
moosesport

The integrali is the right choice.

Thom Semeniuk
Thom Semeniuk

I mean… Range rover, Jeep, Land Cruse, none of them?

Jared Moore
Jared Moore

Skyline should have been #1

Kevin Flood
Kevin Flood

If you are going to put a moderately up to date Yank into the mix, this deserves it more than the Olds, at least it was a production model 🙂
[url=”http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classics-amc-eagle-wagon-and-sedan-what-the-hell-is-this/”]AMC Eagle[/url]

Top Secret
Top Secret

Where is the Ford Escort Cosworth RS? Can’t that be considered a classic yet? And what about the late 80s Toyota Celica turbo GT4?

ronaldo eduardo
ronaldo eduardo

Cisitalia Porsche.
Awd.

Aaron Venable
Aaron Venable

Baffled as to why the R32 GT-R is behind the 959. Completely mortified as to why it’s behind the Peugeot, and surprised it didn’t take second place in this list.

zamanfu
zamanfu

Japanese cars are not as “tasteful” as obscure Italian or French cars.

furi
furi

Well that is not a t16 in the pictures. It’s a 205gti. And the pictured Delta it’s a Martini 5 model, so a 1992 year car…

jason
jason

agreed, not the best complied petrolicious article…

jason
jason

agreed, not the best compiled petrolicious article…

Per Eldh
Per Eldh

And to be clear, the GTI had absolutely nothing and zil to do with the T16. Other than windscreen & lamps basically!

Ian Miles
Ian Miles

Not your best article. The Hurst Hairy was not even a production car but a one off. Just to get an American entry in?

The Pug photos do not show the T16. Here is one.

http://iedei.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/peugeot-205-t16.jpeg

If you have the T16 in then what about the Mighty Metro 6R4. Normally aspirated and homilogated as was the T16. Many still being raced today.

http://photos.classicandperformancecar.com/images/front_picture_library_UK/dir_822/car_photo_411292_25.jpg

No mention of the relativelt epic Ford Siirre XR4*4 and Sierra Cosworth. Both great to drive, tunable and successful. Both pre 1990.

Correct conclusion though.

gordon
gordon

what about harry millers race cars? overhead cams and 4wheel drive in 1932

Alan
Alan

Fun fact, I believe the 959 pictured is Jerry Seinfeld’s car. Either that or his is the other white 959 adjacent to it. Seen during a visit to Canepa Design during an open house.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle

I kinda figured the Lancia would take the number one spot but i was happy to see the Hairy Olds in the mix though. I forgot about that car’s existence but i was glad to see it.