9 boring cars we love thanks to motorsport

26th January 2023
James King

I often get criticised for my taste in cars. I’m tired of having to explain why I have a penchant for mundane Japanese and French cars. Whilst the majority of the motoring enthusiast world argues over whether they’d choose the latest Mercedes C63 AMG over the BMW M3 CS, I’m sat there discussing whether I should pull the trigger on that 1999 Nissan Primera GT that’s currently sitting at £1,080 with two hours left in the auction. Growing up, I thought that was the norm, but as time has gone by I’ve realised I’m in a bizarre minority.

There is an obvious running theme for my weird tastes and it perfectly explains everything. At one point or another in these mundane cars’ lifespans they’ve had the spotlight on them, and more often than not they’ve excelled. Their story is one similar to the ‘90s TV stars that went a little hard with the Columbian fun sherbet. They were the talk of the town with the world at their feet, but it’s over 30 years since their prime and they’re doing an advert for double-glazed windows to make ends meet. These are the mundane cars that excelled in motorsport.


9. Mazda Xedos 6

The first car on this list wasn’t even that successful. Whilst watching BTCC throughout the ‘90s, which is something of a recurring theme here, one of the regular backmarkers weirdly sticks in my mind. This is most likely due to the lively livery, but the Mazda Xedos 6 just fills my heart with joy. It looked out of place then and still does to this day. Now, the current owners of the Xedos 6, who probably own it thanks to its status as a cheap and fairly reliable run around, get a nod of respect from me as they drive past and probably have no clue why.


8. Skoda Fabia

The early ‘00s Skoda Fabia road car is basically a cheap VW Polo with all the charisma of a flannel. However, to a select few, it’s known for that white and green rally livery that flailed toward the bottom of the 2003 WRC leader board in style and had a seventh place at the hands of the legendary Colin McRae in 2005. So, if you see me in a Skoda Fabia VRS I found on eBay for £950, I’ll have an imaginary Nicky Grist alongside me.


7. Toyota Carina E

This one is a little more difficult to explain as it is a rather portly car. It doesn’t look like it should be nimble or agile enough to compete at the front of the BTCC field and… it wasn’t. In 1993 it made a decent showing in the hands of Bailey and Hoy, but in 1994 it was usually seen toward the rear or middle of the grid. The Toyota Carina E’s performance probably wasn’t resulting in a lot of additional road car sales, but it certainly pulled at my five-year-old heart strings. I think it can almost entirely be attributed to the Castrol livery.


6. BMW Z4

This one is a much more recent addition to my list, and calling it mundane is a little harsh. However, when it’s in its GT3 guise, it suddenly becomes one of my favourite racing cars of all time. Last year I was a very lucky boy and got to cover the Daytona Classic 24 where I saw a BMW Z4 GT3, with its monstrous V8, absolutely belt it around the famous banking making one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard. Instant love. If anyone at BMW is reading this, please make a road going Z4 GT3 (maybe a Z4 CSL?) with flared wheel arches and a massive rear wing.


5. Hyundai Accent

Hyundai has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. The N Performance range of cars are genuinely fantastic and its incoming Ioniq 5 N is likely to be giant step into the future for the South Korean brand, which has had to work hard to rid itself of the somewhat less desirable reputation it garnered in its early years. The one diamond in the rough from its less successful years was one hell of a diamond. It grabbed my attention as Colin McRae’s little brother, Alister McRae, was behind the wheel and it looked and sounded like the absolute bee’s knees. Ignore the fact that it won zero races in 48… Anything that makes the road car palatable is a true winner.


4. Peugeot 206

I find it easy to find out everything I need to know about a person just by using the ‘206 method.’ It’s a simple test. If you know the Peugeot 206 from the popular advert where an elephant crushes a car into the shape of a 206, you fall on one side of the fence. If you know it as the car that Marcus Grönholm drove to two WRC drivers’ titles in the early 2000s then you fall into the other (better) side of the fence.


3. Nissan Primera GT

At a crucial era of my life I had Nissan Primera’s flying at me from all angles. Not only did my next-door neighbour, Martin, have a black Nissan Primera GT that was cleaned within an inch of its life every weekend, Nissan was also winning the BTCC 1998 manufacturers’ title using a pair of Primera Super Tourers. Yes, Rickard Rydell won the drivers’ title, but the Primeras were the stars of the show. It may be mundane on the road, but I’d happily die on the hill of saying it is a very good-looking car.


2. Toyota Corolla

A car that really should get me as excited as an episode of Emmerdale, the ‘97 Corolla would pass 99% of the population without any reaction of note at all. However, when I see one rolling by, my mind cuts to the finale of the ‘98 WRC season and possibly the most painful heartbreak I’ve ever felt, superseding the time that I went to my first Welsh rugby game and France beat us 51-0.


1. Renault Laguna

Whether it’s in Nescafe green or Renault Sport yellow and blue, the Renault Laguna is a thing of beauty. It was a successful machine too, winning the ‘95 and ‘97 manufacturers’ title and ‘97 drivers’ title. Whether it was Plato or Menu skipping across those kerbs, the Laguna is just one of those designs that looks good from every angle. Unfortunately, the road car never had the proper performance treatment, but that doesn’t stop me from lusting over a 3.0-litre V6 Laguna.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

  • List

  • Mazda

  • Xedos 6

  • Toyota

  • Carina E

  • Corolla

  • Skoda

  • Fabia

  • BMW

  • Z4

  • Hyundai

  • Accent

  • Peugeot

  • 206

  • Nissan

  • Primera GT

  • Renault

  • Laguna

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