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Motoring 101: Defined simplicity

Why this car?

One of my biggest passions is motorsports and I am, therefore, always working on rally cars. I was looking for an entry point into motorsports, which is very expensive, and this car had been in the sport for a while under different people. When I was looking for a car, it fit my budget and requirements at the time. As with any motorsport, development doesn’t stop, so from day one I was tweaking and adjusting it.

It was originally an All Wheel Drive (AWD) with a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, but I wanted to race it in the Two Wheel Drive (2WD) category in the rally so I swapped out the 1.8-litre turbo for a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre unit and converted it to Front Wheel Drive (FWD).

What do you love about it?

I’ve had it for about two and a half years and above all else, I’d say its simplicity. It comes from an age when things were much simpler. There’s literally no driver assistance technology, so you have to develop the skills needed to handle it, especially in a competitive environment. It’s also light and, therefore, nimble in handling through the turns, making it quite lively and fun to drive. It’s a car that demands to be driven.

One of the most memorable moments was in the second rally we ever did in this car. It was so wet and muddy and drifting in it was quite a blast. Surprisingly, however, we finished first, ahead even of the Four Wheel Drive (4WD) cars that should be superior in such conditions.

Any drawbacks?

I’d say the age. Production started in 1980 for the Leone and naturally over time when the car is no longer in production the parts become scarce, especially performance parts. For a competitive sport such as rallying, that translates to poor performance. I’ve gotten around that by employing some engineering techniques like modifying it to fit newer suspension from the Impreza among other things.

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