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FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD Explained With Vintage Rally Cars

All-wheel drive is an increasingly common feature on cars today, from grocery-fetching Subaru wagons to small crossovers. But it was rally racing that really convinced automakers that sending power to all four wheels gives cars a massive edge on ice, snow, dirt and more.


To illustrate this point, we joined our friends at the Team O’Neil Rally School in New Hampshire to test out three famous vintage rally cars: a front-wheel drive Saab 96, a rear-wheel drive Volvo 142, and an AWD drive Audi 4000.

Yes, it was a fun day. But more than that it revealed why AWD caught on so quickly in the rally racing world, put Audi on the map, and then spread across the consumer car landscape. Granted, tires are critical too, but you can see why rally racing is so heavy on AWD now.

Illustration for article titled FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD Explained With Vintage Rally Cars

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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