While the race cars on track and in the paddock at the Sonoma Speed Festival were plenty drool-worthy, we also enjoy our performance machines in road trim. That’s why the Radwood exhibit was such a treat, being filled as it was with several of our favorite cars from the 1980s and ’90s. Here are the highlights:
Audi Sport Quattro
This ur-Quattro appears to be a ‘Sport’ model with its slightly different fender flares, dark-tint taillights, and white multi-spoke wheels. Introduced in 1984 as a homologation special for Audi’s Group B rally cars, the Sport Quattro was given a turbocharged inline five-cylinder engine with 2.1-liters of displacement, good for some 302 horsepower.
Porsche 964 RS
Everyone knows there’s really only one color to consider if you’re in the market for a 964 RS: fuchsia. That’s why we were so glad to stumble upon this example in the Radwood corral, looking positively flowery next to its more traditionally colored stablemates. These RS models were lighter weight, higher powered (260 hp), and more stiffly sprung than standard 911 Carrera 2 models but they weren’t sold new in the U.S. Instead, we had to make do with the RS America, which was little more than an appearance package.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI
With so many similarities between the Evo VI and VII, it’s tough to pin the exact year on this Mitsubishi, but rest assured—the differences are small. At this point in the Evo’s, er, evolution, output was up to around 275 horsepower, the turbo-four engines were getting stronger and more reliable all the time, and various option packs were available with different bumpers, wheels, seats and brakes to choose from. We like the asymmetrical hood and bumper inlets on this one.
Mercedes-Benz AMG 6.0 560SEC Widebody
Talk about 1980s excess—here it is exemplified. Mercedes’ S-class coupe was already one of the most expensive cars on the road in 1989, but this modified AMG variant took things to a whole other level. With the oh-so-’80s AMG widebody kit and monoblock wheels, this Benz certainly looks the business. Backing up the aesthetics is the 6.0-liter V-8 engine (bored out from the original 5.6-liter unit from the 560SEC) and given an AMG four-valve head. The result was twice the torque at half the engine speed of the standard Mercedes engine and an eye-watering price tag of some $200,000.
We’re big fans of these early NSX models with their pop-up headlights and contrasting black roofs. The NSX really took the fight to Ferrari with a mid-engine sports car that looked every bit as exotic as the stuff coming out of Maranello, but with everyday reliability and comfort that the Italians could only dream of at the time. Values bottomed at around $20,000 several years ago, but you’ll pay double that today for an example you’d actually want to own.
Ford Escort RS Cosworth
Those of us of a certain age recall drooling over these very special hot hatches in the mid-1990s in the pages of our favorite magazines, like Automobile. Alas, that’s all we did as Escort RS Cossies were forbidden fruit to us in the States. Another rally homologation special, the RS Cosworth looked far wilder than any hot hatch that came before it, with a bi-plane rear spoiler designed by Frank Stephenson. These cars are now eligible for the federal 25-year importation rule, which is how this one came Stateside after all these years.