The Unbelievable Roads Of The 1984 Manx Rally

The '84 Manx Rally is still interesting for the variety of cars up for contention. There's an Audi Quattro, sure, but there's everything else from an AE86 Corolla, a couple Opel Mantas, and a V8 Rover Vitesse. I'm not sure there's been a bigger top-level rally car in the past three decades. But it's the roads that make the Manx so good to watch.

The Manx is held on the Isle of Man, which everyone and their mother knows for the IoM Tourist Trophy. Even when you're just watching motorcycle racing, the Isle of Man roads look narrow. When there are full-size rally cars (not the least of which being the huge Rover), the roads seem impossibly small.

The Unbelievable Roads Of The 1984 Manx Rally

This Opel Manta is not a huge car, as far as modern standards go. Even with its box fender flares, it's only as wide as a Ford Fiesta. And still it takes up the entirety of this ultra-narrow stage.

The stages weren't all just tight. The opened up into totally flat sections, sometimes with jumps...

The Unbelievable Roads Of The 1984 Manx Rally

...sometimes in deep, zero-visibility fog.

The Unbelievable Roads Of The 1984 Manx Rally

This is Tony Pond in his V8 Rover, absolutely flat out, and relying entirely on his co-driver for knowing where to go. Even in '84, rally pacenotes were much, much simpler than they are today, and many of the drivers you see here would often run rallies without pacenotes whatsoever.

I recommend you watch the whole contemporary recap, even though the results mean absolutely nothing anymore. And if you're feeling wistful that top-level rally today doesn't have such a variety of cars in podium contention as you'd find 30 years ago, at least the roads can still be this gnarly.