Was the Toyota Celica GT-Four the most successful rally car of the 1990s

This is a quick post on the success of the ST185 in rallying, as I don’t believe it gets the credit it deserves.

In this post I’m referring to the driver’s championship rather than constructors, because really, whilst constructor titles might mean more to the carmakers, it’s the drivers championship that most people care about.  The same is true of any form of motorsport.

When people think 90s rally cars, it’s the WRX and Evo that probably come to mind first.

But how successful were these cars?

The WRX is enormously popular as a road car, but it’s only ever won three driver’s titles.  It’s only title during the 90s was 1995 in the hands of the legend Colin McRae.

The Evo was very successful in the hands of Tomi Mäkinen, taking four driver’s titles between 1996 and 1999.

Those four titles are the only ones Mitsubishi have ever won in WRC.

So what about Toyota?  Aside from their 1990 win with Carlos Sainz in the earlier Celica (ST165) they took a trio of championships with the ST185 from 1992 to 1994.

Given that the ST185’s trio of wins came with three different drivers, I believe this says even more about the brilliance of the GT-Four.

So the GT-Four was more successful than the WRX, and just as successful as the Evo if you count both different GT-Fours (ST165 and ST185) against the four different Evos (III, IV, V & VI).

People could argue forever about which was the best 1990s rally car, but I think the Celica GT-Four has a very strong case.

Here’s the list of 1990s WRC drivers champions:

  • 1990 – Celica GT-Four (ST165) – Carlos Sainz
  • 1991 – Lancia Delta Integrale – Juha Kankkunen
  • 1992 – Celica GT-Four (ST185) – Carlos Sainz
  • 1993 – Celica GT-Four (ST185) – Juha Kankkunen
  • 1994 – Celica GT-Four (ST185) – Didier Auriol
  • 1995 – Subaru Impreza – Colin McRae
  • 1996 – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III – Tomi Mäkinen
  • 1997 – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV – Tomi Mäkinen
  • 1998 – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV & V – Tomi Mäkinen
  • 1999 – Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI – Tomi Mäkinen