RallyDay at Castle Combe – September 2010

The annual RallyDay at Castle Combe has been taking place since 2001. What started out as a small event, with around 2000 visitors, has gradually become something far larger, requiring the use of many of the fields surrounding the circuit as temporary car park, and filling all the surfaced space and more around the buildings for the exhibits. With lots to see, it was well worth the £20 admission fee which was the entry price for those turning up without having purchased a ticket. Indeed, RallyDay contrasts quite nicely with the Race Retro event that takes place earlier in the year. There are no indoor exhibition halls at Castle Combe, but there is a track, which is approximately 1.8 miles in length, so you trade off some static displays for the privilege of seeing more cars in action for more than just a special stage. Actually, Castle Combe had one of those, as well, and an impromptu Rallycross course was also created for some of the entrants. So, what did we see?


There were special tributes to a couple of much loved and much missed British rallying icons, Colin McRae and Richard Burns, with examples of several of the cars that each drove during their all-too short careers.

Richard Burns’ cars

The liveries of rally cars from yesteryear are almost as famous as the cars themselves, and it was great to see some of these again. Here are some of the the Andrews cars:
Audi had a special display to mark 30 years since the Quattro first dominated the forests and gravel of the rally scene. It was a shame that the cars were rather crammed into the display area, but good to see them, and even better to hear the S1 out on the track.
This Fabia was in action on the track as well, and was a seriously quick car.
There were plenty of other competition cars, of course.
Ford Escort

This Aston Martin ventured out onto the circuit for some display laps. Impressive.
Seat Ibiza
Current Mitsubishi Evo X
This Firenza sported a 302 cubic inch Chevrolet engine,and sounded quite unlike the road cars on which it was based.
The Opel Ascona was perhaps an unlikely rally car, but it was successful even before the emphasis shifted to its coupe Manta brother
These were rather fun, and later in the day we saw them in action on the rally cross circuit.
On the event web-site, it was explained that you could enter a road car if there was a connection to rallying, and the response from owners’ clubs was deeply impressive, with vast numbers of cars on show.


With the Quattro celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, a good turn out could be expected, and we were not disappointed, with plenty of these iconic cars on show.

This RS4 was tucked up among the Subaru Impreza P1s and was an almost perfect colour match!
There were a couple of the road-going 131 cars from the 1970s to enjoy.

A lone 500C Abarth from the current range was also in attendance. This one sported an Abarthisti sticker, and belongs to someone known to us from that forum.
Think of a Fast Ford from the past 30 years, and there was at least one example on show. Not only were there a lot of Fords on show, but many of them were pleasingly original, which is not something you can always say about these cars once the “enthusiasts” decide to “improve” them!

There were a couple of Lotus Cortina models on show in the main arena, with an example of the first and second generation car.

It was really with the Escort that Ford managed to introduce the idea of an affordable performance car, and there were plenty of examples of the first generation model, from the Twin Cam, through the Mexico to the RS2000, along with a couple of nicely created estate and van versions which were never offered by Ford at the time (nowadays I am sure they would oblige!).
When the second generation Escort was launched, it was not long before performance variants appeared, of which the RS2000 is the best known and was the most numerous. There was also an RS1800, and in the car park we found a “regular” mark 2 saloon.
The third generation Escort, now a front wheel drive car, spawned XR3, XR3i, RS1600i and then RS Turbo models, and there were examples of all of these at the event.
The fourth generation Escort is the one that (deservedly) got the savaging from the press when it was launched in 1990, but a program of continuous improvements gradually turned it into quite a decent car, and the performance oriented models were actually pretty good. The zenith of the offerings at this time was the Escort Cosworth, and several of these were on display.
There were not many Capris at the event, but this RS3100 was attracting a lot of attention, and deservedly so too, as it was in beautiful condition.
Hot Fiestas tend to disappear quite quickly, as their innate affordability means that the young and reckless can all too easily buy them and then crash them, but there were a few original cars, including an RS Turbo and an RS1800 model.
The RS200 appeared at just the wrong time, as Group B Rally Cars were about to be abandoned. for safety reasons, and it is said that it took Ford a long time to sell the homologation road cars. Now, of course, they are much prized, and there were a couple of cars at the event.
There were a good number of the Sierra Cosworth cars, ranging from the early hatches through the RS500 models to the four door saloon cars.
Hard to believe that the Puma is now well over 10 years old. Most of the event cars were the Ford Racing Puma models, which are definitely in the “collectible” category.
Plenty of Focus RS cars, of course. Most of them had been modified. Some more tastefully than others!
There were more than a few current model Focus RS and ST, just as you might expect.
There were several Stratos cars, some in pure road-going form, and others in the distinctive liveries of the day.

There were also a good number of Delta Integrales.,
In the early 1980s, turbo-charging was all the rage, and most manufacturers put one on at least one of their products. By 1982, Mitsubishi had a turbo version of every single model in their range. The Lancer Turbo was probably the most impressive of these products, which was just as well given the £9000 price tag. Only about 400 of these cars were sold in the UK, and (with a little help from the Netherlands) more than 10 of them were on show at the event. Not bad for a car that is approaching its 30th birthday.

A representative sample of all the Evo models from early to the latest Evo X were also on show, of course.
The Metro 6R4 was another car that was a casualty of the move away from the Group B cars, back in 1985.


Not all of the Renaults had gone to the Renault World Series event at Silverstone as a few of these cars were at Castle Combe, ranging from the R8 and R12 Gordini road cars, to a couple of R5 Turbos and even an ordinary R12 TL saloon.
Numerically, there were more Subarus than any other marque, which is probably no surprise to anyone, given the popularity of the Impreza models over the past 15 years or so. What was impressive were the sheer numbers of the more unusual variants such as the P1 and the RB5, with literally dozens of each on show.

The P1 was always a very low volume car, offered late in the life of the first generation Impreza, or so I thought. The number present at this event made me question the “low volume” though. In fact, 1000 cars were sold, but at an asking price of over £30,000 when they were new, they proved hard to sell.
Official STI badging is pink. So, whether you like it or not, this is actually perfectly kosher.
There must have been at least 20 of the RB5 models on show. 444 of these cars were made in 1999, to celebrate Richard Burns’ return to the Subaru rally team, in car number 5.
The RB320, a car launched in 2006 in memory of Richard Burns who passed away late in the previous year, and only offered in Obsidian Black, was also well represented.
Imprezas were far more numerous than any other Subaru, but there were some Legacy models, too. including these:
Focus here was the Sunbeam Lotus, and there were a good number of the road-going cars on show.

There was also a Sunbeam TI and an Avenger estate from the more prosaic part of the late 1970s range.
In the 1990s, the Celica was both a successful rally car, and – especially in GT4 format – a class-leading coupe. The display cars were largely focused on the models from this period, even though Celica actually ran from 1971 until 2004 through a number of different model types.

Almost inevitably, the public car park at an event like this will contain many interesting and unusual cars, and this was no exception. We did not wander around everywhere, but there was plenty to catch our eye. Many of the cars looked like they should have been in the main display area and have been included in that part of this report but there were also some other interesting or rare cars, including these:

An Opel Monza

Porsche 911 GT3 RS
Rover SD1
Vauxhall Zafira VXR
Vauxhall Nova GSi
Track action varied during the day. There were periods of complete inactivity, times when the paying public could go out for a few laps in their qualifying car and several of the more iconic vehicles of the day were out on display laps, some gunning for it rather harder than others. There was plenty of variety. from a rather improbably looking Citroen Visa, to the Paris-Dakar Peugeot 405 Rally Raid, the Audi Quattro S1, and Sierra Cosworths, rear wheel drive Escorts and far more.

We were lucky to be blessed with some lovely autumn sunshine, making this a far warmer prospect than the chilly Race Retro events (and that event is even earlier in 2011, in late February). There are lots of good vantage points, and we did make an entire lap of the circuit, on foot (it took 2 hours, but we did pause rather a lot!). In all, then, an excellent day out, and well worth the £20.
2010-09-22 20:21:57

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *