In part one, we focussed on motorsport-derived road cars from Japan.
In part two, we cross both the Pacific and North Atlantic oceans to find ourselves in Europe. Specifically, the home of the World Motorsport Council headquarters – France.
Indeed, the industry authority who creates the rules and regulations surrounding road-going race cars is based in wee Paris.
Known as the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, or FIA for short, this peak body also shares its location with a handful of auto manufacturers who've dabbled in the dark arts of homologating vehicles to win races.
Let's look at four of France's best.
Peugeot 205 T16 (Turbo 16)
The FIA gets another mention in the tale of our first rally-spec road car. Before leading that organisation, Jean Todt was the 'Director of Racing' at Peugeot Talbot Sport from 1982 to 1993.
At the time, Peugeot had just acquired the Talbot brand from Chrysler's failed European venture. The fellow French brand had previous successes in rallying, which the president of Peugeot at the time, Jean Boillot, was keen to exploit.
Todt was placed in charge of the newly minted Peugeot Talbot Sport team and set to work. A brilliant co-driver and sharp engineering mind, he is credited with leading the 205 T16's development.
It's said a team of 20 engineers (some ex-Talbot) were given complete operational freedom to create a new car. The diesel-derived Peugeot 'XU' motor was redesigned to work on petrol, fitted with a 16-valve head, then placed in the middle of the car, instead of the front.
The crew then shoehorned a four-wheel-drive system underneath. It was more a silhouette racer than homologation special, as the chassis underneath was an all-new tubular deal – led by the vision of being utterly uncompromising.
Built under FIA Group B regulations, the brand had to produce 200 road-going versions to enter competition. As brands had played funny buggers with the FIA before, Peugeot even arranged all 200 to be in one place at one time – to prove that all cars had been produced and that none were double-counted.
Peugeot Sport Talbot went on to win four World Rally Championship trophies in 1985 and 1986 (two driver and manufacturers titles) with Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen.
More broadly, the team also had success four times at the Paris-Dakar Rally and twice at 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
Peugeot's 205 T16 feeds nicely into our next (partly) French homologation special – the Talbot Lotus Sunbeam. As we just found out, the team behind the humble yet successful Sunbeam rally car went on to continue kicking goals with Peugeot Talbot Sport.
However, the project began on the general ledger of American brand Chrysler. Motorsport Director for its European arm, Des O'Dell, was convinced he could build a race-winning rally car from the brand's economy car – the Chrysler Sunbeam.
He believed it had all the fundamentals: a lightweight monocoque construction, decent-enough suspension arrangement and rear-wheel-drive layout.
Legend goes that O'Dell built a prototype on his own coin. He sourced and fitted a Lotus 16-valve engine to a Sunbeam, and used the rough-and-ready test mule to sway the board of directors. Funding was green-lighted, and the team got to work.
Shortly after, Chrysler Europe sold the Talbot brand to Peugeot, where the donor vehicle was renamed Talbot Sunbeam. This didn't stop the program, however, and 400 production cars were built to homologate the mule for competition under the name Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.
With Peugeot running the books, it wanted to see success. The initial 1979 rally season yielded more DNFs than finishes for the brand thanks to fast yet unreliable British driver Tony Pond. Next year's 1980 season saw Guy Fréquelin and Henri Toivonen score points, which inspired more development and funding from Peugeot.
The investment yielded dividends, as the same driver pairing notched up enough points to win the 1981 World Rally Championship Manufacturers' title.
Citroen BX 4TC
Not all cars in this series were successful.
Citroen's attempt at Group B rallying was fittingly quirky, just like the brand itself. Instead of opting for conventional coil springs (or two) on each end, it persisted with a specially designed version of its hydropneumatic suspension. Although unique, the decision wasn't favourable, as it added weight and complexity.
Another interesting point came from altering the transverse engine layout in the road car to a longitudinal format for the race car. It resulted in front overhang that extended far past the front axle.
Coupled with a relatively stubby bum, the BX 4TC featured an unusual design – and even more unusual handling. Efforts to normalise balance included packaging oil and water-cooling systems in the boot, but it wasn't enough.
The car remained tricky to drive. It also tipped the scales at 1150kg – nearly 200kg over the class minimum, which other contenders were happily circling around.
Its engine wasn't high-tech either, rather a re-jigged Simca motor from the 1970s, complete with an eight-valve, single-overhead-camshaft head. Regardless of the turbocharging and fuel injection systems, its performance was considered lacklustre.
The rest of the car, including a gearbox pilfered from the Maserati-powered Citroen SM, was produced using stuff found on various shelves around the factory.
Numerous delays saw the parts-bin special late to Group B's roll call. It attended just three events, finishing just sixth on its best outing. The death of Henri Toivonen – who moved from Talbot to Lancia to drive its Delta S4 – was the last in a string of tragic events that ended the series prematurely.
After it was all said and done, Citroen went on a mission to buy back the 86 of 200 cars it had sold by that time. Some examples escaped the grim reaper and are now prized by collectors around the world.
Renault 5 Turbo
We close with a fan favourite.
Jean Terramorsi, Renault production manager through the 1960s and 1970s, was a die-hard motorsport fan. He held a vision to create a spiritual successor to the Renault 8 and 12 Gordini models.
Something new that could return the World Rally title to Renault – as the original Alpine A110 did.
The vision was set with firm guidelines: modest in size, inexpensive, uncomplex and well balanced. The target was Group 3 homologation of at least 1000 road cars, all priced below 70,000 francs.
Sadly, Terramorsi passed in 1976 before seeing the fruits of his labour. His successor, Henry Lherm, carried the baton on his behalf.
In 1977, he tasked Marcello Gandini, of the Bertone, with the design of 'Project 822'.
The donor chassis came from the regular 5 hatchback. It was heavily modified to allow for a Renault in-house 'Cléon-Fonte' four-cylinder turbocharged engine to be fitted behind the driver.
This change resulted in a rear-wheel-drive layout, instead of the 5's regular front-wheel format. The 5 Turbo was originally planned to utilise a wholly-new spaceframe chassis, but this idea was set aside due to cost.
Like the Citroen project, myriad parts were stolen from other projects at the time. A complex rear suspension set-up came from the Renault Alpine A310 sports car and its gearbox from a Renault 30.
By 1978, a fully functioning mule was undergoing testing and a prototype was shown to the public. By 1980, Renault had produced the 400 required cars to meet homologation stipulation and go rallying.
The first 400 road cars are now referred to as 'Turbo 1', as Renault went on to produce a second 'Turbo 2' version. The first set of cars feature aluminium hanging panels and an intense, Bertone designed blue-and-red interior. The later cars featured more mundane insides and heavier, steel panels.
While Audi is credited for pioneering four-wheel drive in the sport, the same could be said for Renault's mid-engine layout.
The car had success, with French driver Jean Ragnotti winning the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally in a first-generation 5 Turbo.