Cars for Competition

Whether you already have a classic car or are thinking of acquiring one to use for historic rallies, it will need to fall into one of four age-related categories in order to be eligible for competitive events.

2014 saw the introduction of Category 4 cars to historic events, giving drivers a wider range of classics to choose from. Much of the information below does not apply to non-competitive events such as the HRCR Scenic Tours Series as these are far more relaxed.


Below are the Motorsport UKs categories for historic rally cars. The Motorsport UK is the governing body for all forms of motorsport in the UK:

Category 1 Before 1 Jan 1968
Category 2 1 Jan 1968 to 31 Dec 1974
Category 3 1 Jan 1975 to 31 Dec 1981
Category 4 1 Jan 1982 to 31 Dec 1990

The category of car you drive (and sometimes the engine size) determines which ‘Class’ you will compete in for awards, in addition to any overall awards. Category 4 cars, being the most modern, are not currently eligible for overall awards. Vehicle event classes mean you compete fairly against cars of a similar age and performance. In a similar manner, historic rallies involving map navigation will often have classes split by driver and navigator experience, such as Master, Expert and Novice.


Like all other forms of historic motor sport, the core principle of historic rallying is to compete in a way that is sympathetic to the experience of driving period cars when they were originally rallied.

To support this aim, modifications to modernise historic cars are strictly controlled by the Motorsport UK.

Vehicle safety and performance modifications vary depending on the type of car you have and the type of competition you choose to do, but in principle (with the exception of safety items) cars can only be fitted with period modifications – i.e.. recognised modifications that were available for your car and used in rallying. Later and more modern modifications are not permitted.


The majority of permitted period performance parts for any given car are detailed in the original manufacturers homologation papers. To prevent one-off specials and to control costs, rally cars are based on showroom production models of which a certain volume have to be produced in order to qualify. These papers detail the approved specification of the cars along with any performance and competition parts developed for them within the regulations of the time.

For cars now classed as historic vehicles, original homologation papers are used by the Motorsport UK and the FIA as a basis for permitted modifications. There are two exceptions to this: Firstly, where an unregistered modification is proven to have been used by a manufacturers ‘works’ team, where there is photographic evidence to support it, and secondly, where the Motorsport UK have allowed the use of a modern alternative to an original part as a result of it being no longer available (for example, 65 profile tyres are now permitted due to the lack of availability of 70 profile).

Homologation papers are really only required when you are getting in to the detail of raising your cars’ performance to a reasonably high level. They can be purchased online from the Motorsport UK Shop.

It is not essential to have homologation papers for your car. Many of the recognised period modifications are well known by club members and there are plenty of people within the club who can advise you of what is acceptable. If it is standard or has well recognised period modifications, then you are unlikely to have any issues.

More specific information about individual cars can be found at – a website created to provide technical information on historic rally cars by Paul Loveridge. Paul, apart from being Chairman of the HRCR, has an enormous experience and knowledge of these matters and regularly officiates as a Scrutineer on events. This site provides an overview of permitted modifications and information on the most popular cars.


Once you have completed the development of your car, it is possible to have its specification documented to be of assistance when the vehicle is scrutinised. Once again this is only necessary when your car is highly modified and specification of less easy to identify performance parts, such as internal engine parts, need to be clarified.


Apart from the specification and development of specific makes and models of vehicles, all cars have to comply with the more general rules of the governing bodies of motorsport for the type of events those cars are to be used in. In the UK all these rules are issued by the Motorsport UK, and are found in the Motorsport UK Yearbook (commonly referred to as the ‘Blue Book’). Updated and issued every year, it contains all the rules for all forms of motorsport – including historic rallying. It can be viewed online within the Motorsport UK website under ‘publications’.

Information in the book which relates to your car will include things like wheel width, tyre profiles, noise levels, engine induction, safety equipment and precautions and much more.

When taking part on an competitive event, the rules or regulations (‘Regs’) issued by the event organiser that you will need to comply with, will refer to specific sections within the ‘Blue Book’, e.g. Appendix K.

Away from the specifics of your car, the ‘Blue Book’ also includes rules on event organisation and procedures, which of course includes historic rallies. This covers things like rally timing, speeds, noise levels, venues, permissions, safety and much more.


Nothing is more important than safety. The safety of the crew, marshals and the public is paramount at all times. In terms of your car, not only does it have to conform to the requirements of any normal road legal vehicle, such as a current MOT and meeting with DLVA standards, but it also has to feature a number of safety requirements detailed in the ‘Blue Book’. The levels of these vary depending on which type of rallying you’re taking part in. For example on road rally cars, a double spring return on the throttle cable is mandatory along with a laminated windscreen. On stage rally cars this extends to items such as a plumbed in fire extinguisher system, full roll cage and fireproof overalls for the crew.


Assuming that you’ve prepared your car correctly, both in terms of safety and period modifications, when you come to compete on an event, you will encounter ‘Scrutineering’ at the start.
Before you can go anywhere your car has to be checked over by an official to ensure it conforms to the rules. If everything is okay, they apply approval in the form of a signed sticker that is applied to your car.

During this process, the Scrutineer may ask for changes to be made to the vehicle before it can continue or offer recommendations for improvement for the next event.