Amazing Classic Car Rallies and Autocross from Eastern Europe

Eastern European Classic Car Autocross
Living in the United States since the late 80’s, not having any Polish friends, and not having returned back to Poland until last year, I feel like I have missed out a lot. Following my trip I started to explore what I may have missed all those years, and cars are obviously a big part of it. Call it nostalgia, call it re-discovery, but whatever it is, I feel as though any car enthusiast from anywhere may find it interesting.

Eastern European cars have been mentioned many times here on the Hooniverse, but never like this. I have mentioned the love for old- and young-timers before, and while we’re used to seeing classic cars at shows, concours, or cruise nights, we don’t often, if ever, see them engaged in actual driving competition. Recently, I have come across a Polish website called Stado Baranow, which means a Heard of Sheep (direct translation, but could mean a Group of Morons too) which covers a variety of such classic car events.

The website, in its clean, ad-free, no-drama design, covers mostly interesting cars spotted around Poland by its readers. These are mostly vehicles from the 1960s to early 1990s, in various state of operations or decomposition. Their secondary content is providing details on classic car rallies, timed events, gatherings, and such. They follow each event up with a small gallery of photos. There is also some talk about mass transit, specifically Eastern Bloc buses and trolleys.

Have a look through the site. It is not necessary to understand the language as it is rich in pictures. Click on some galleries too, as there is a great amount of fantastic images from the various events. I would like to focus on these events in this here post, specifically the various timed events and the vehicles participating in them. From common MGs, to ex-rally cars, to common cars, to city buses (!), everything is rallied and/or auto-crossed. It’s worth noting that unlike some historic races in North America, these are not rich guys racing their million-dollar Cobras and Ferraris, which is quite appealing to me.

The cars come from all over Europe, and the events are help in many places, including the well-known Monte Carlo Historique. Click jump to see more…



 Not sure what this is, and I’m not sure if its designers had this in mind.

Ford Sierra

 Not sure if this Ford Sierra is an actual racecar or one made to look like one.

Citroen CS autocross


Ford Mustang

 Hey, having a Mustang is Europe is something!

fiat 126p

 Stickers and fog lights add massive amounts of power to this Fiat 126p’s 650cc engine.

Dino maybe

 Note the Austrian plates…

Jag XK

 This is just spectacular!

Ikarus bus

 Ikarus are Hungarian-made buses which were commonly used throughout the world, including Canada. The oldest ones, circa late 70’s/early 80’s, were recently taken out of service in Warsaw. The few that were in good condition ended up in private hands… and then this happened.

I remember these very well from my childhood and managed to see the last few of them, and their smokey exhaust, on my last trip there. Unlike U.S. city buses, which have one entry door, all doors could be used for ingress/egress. Once in, you’d take your ticket, which was purchased at a kiosk, and punch it in a little device. There would be random checks, and if you didn’t have a properly punched ticket you’d be fined.


 Scandinavian Flick is not advised in this vehicle.

MG Speedster

 Maybe Alfa Romeo

 Merc Benz beczka

 This almost looks wrong. Almost.

Merc SL 

Mercedes SL cabrio

 Obviously these are not high speed events, focused more on fun than on the fastest time.

Old Tatra

 Yes, that’s a Tatra… going through a slalom!

No idea what this is

 No idea what this is 2

 Don’t know what that is…

No idea what this is 3

 …Or this…

No idea what this is 4

 …Or that…

No idea what this is 5

 …or this, but they all look so cool!


 Skoda 105S

 Skoda… dat suspension geometry!

old Tatra rear

 Ass-end of the Tatra. I believe that’s a Tatra T87, produced between 1936 and 1950, with a few years off for the war.

Peugeot 404

 Peugeot 504?


 RV autocross

 Ford Transit RV… autocrossed. Sort of.

Saab autocross

 Volvo rear

 Skoda 1100 autocross


 Volga autocross

 GAZ 24, not used as intended, which makes it so awesome.


 Volvo 480

 From mint pre-war classics to rusty 80’s Volvos… just hoon it!

zuk red

 Previosuly mentioned Zuk, modded.

VW military 

Warszawa autocross 2

 Classic Warszawa, as seen in a Krakow museum.

What is this

 Again, no idea what that is. I had zero exposure to such cars growing up.

Yet another MG

polonez autocross

My beloved Polonez. The leaky gas cap was either a standart feature… or no one expected this car to be driven like this when designed.

CS at AX

If this does not give you a tingly feeling in your stomach, then you don’t belong here.

Alfa rally

Same feeling should apply to this…

Fucking Tatra

 …and we end with another Tatra. 



  1. Just magnificent. Nice Alpine. But even better to see a bus driven in anger. And let's take a moment to reflect on the courage of the photographer, to be standing where he was.

  2. What do you say to this? Who would have thought this kind of metal existed in the former Soviet Union? Well I guess its all survivors before the iron curtain but not all of it. There is a lot of money being thrown around those cones. Suddenly i have a much deeper appreciation of car guys over there.

  3. This just leaves me speechless in the best possible way. It strikes me as the type of event that would be popular among the most interesting and friendly enthusiasts. I imagine each of these cars and owners having a fascinating story behind both vehicle and driver.
    But why, after seeing all these, do I now mostly really, really want to autocross a friggin bus…?

      1. ZIS-110 was a knockoff of a '42 Packard. The one in the article was a postwar 46-47 model. Notice the differences in the width and shape of the vertical part of the grille and the location of the parking lights. Also notice how the earlier car's front fenders stop before the front door, while the later car has no such distinct transition.

  4. That is bonkers-magnificent-crazy. I do believe that's a classic ZiL limousine being autocrossed. Never thought I'd see the day. (Heck, even if it's just a Packard, that's beyond awesome.)
    Actually, I think there was an English Russia post many years ago showing a driving competition for Russian secret service agents. They were hooning their work vehicles on a snowy circuit: lots of Mercedes sedans and SUVs, but also some modern ZiL limos. Wish I could find that video.

    1. I'm no expert on the Soviet limos, but I believe the ZIS-110 was based on the prewar Packard (which is not the model being autocrossed), and the successor ZIL-111 had considerably different 50's Packard styling.

  5. I've never before had the desire to, or even so much as thought of autocrossing any prewar cars. But now it seems like an amazing idea.
    Same for buses.

      1. I had my son laughing maniacally last night as I read the caption for the Willy's on the calendar in a thick fake Russian accent while we were all playing Settlers, nothing wrong with you buddy! Or any of us!

    1. I'm really struggling to believe that's not broken! The handling feedback you get while driving – I can't imagine what it's like.

  6. The green car is a Jaguar Mk IV
    <img src="; width="500/">
    The two tone sports car is a Triumph Roadster, either a 1800 or 2000
    <img src="; width="500/">
    The green little thing with the tadpole on the side is a Austin A30.
    <img src="; width="500/">
    The red car at the top is probably a 1930s or 1940s Opel.

    1. The red one reminds me SO much of a Daimler DB18, if you squint that's what is spelled across the front too, but I can't find a coach builder that used that chrome and grille. In the very late '40s and very early '50s they had that front fender and head light setup and look as well and the 'verts had the same front glass, cowl, and A-pillars.

  7. Oh man, I'd pay real money for the chance to hoon an Ikarus 260. Those are heavy things, and require an insane amount of shifting, but when they're empty I'd imagine they're a lot more nimble. By the way, that absolutely HAS to be one of the nicest 260s left in existence.
    A shorter Ikarus 222 would be a riot to hoon… now all I have to do is find a 222.
    Like, virtually none of these had autoboxes, aside from the ones that were imported in knock-down form into Canada and the US.

    1. It was sometime around 1987 that I boarded an articulated Ikarus on the 188 line in Warsaw, en route to my dad's house. As usual I used the front door so that I can scope out the driver's controls,… and this was different.
      The hole in the floor where the shifter would be was plugged, and above the eight buttons that opened and cloased the doors were…. five cream-colored buttons.
      After the doors closed, the driver pressed one of the bottons, which popped up the other button that was pressed in. I was pretty sure that was an automatic transmission, but was affraid to ask.

  8. The little green Austin and the (littler?) Fiat are awesome. I want them, and I want to name them. Name them what I'm not sure.

  9. The Polonez was designed to shed excess fuel and weight when pushed hard, in order to ensure speediest track times.

    1. I'm sure Q-ski designed this feature for 007ski to make a quick getaway while leaving the road behind him on fire to thwart pursuers.

  10. So great to see owners Driving and enjoying the ride with these older vehicles..
    No trailer queens in this crowd!

  11. <img src=""&gt;
    Not sure if something similar is available outside ex USSR but rallycross with old soviet trucks and buggies based on these is very much alive here, GAZ 51,52 and 53 are used with some heavy modifications. I've been too lazy to actually go to some of these races to check out what have they done to these trucks.
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src="; width="555">

    1. Reading tech rules for these trucks right now, the one in the first photo, GAZ 51: min. weight 2 tons, I6 GAZ engine max 4 L, carburetted, carb is seemingly free (biggest Holley ever?), exhaust free but 100 db max., intake: free, ignition: free, max valve lift 10,8 mm. One can use plastic body panels, Alu parts probably too. Volvo front disc brakes allowed when truck used in rally not rallycross.
      2. pic: GAZ 53 has max 4,5 L V8, carb again, no turbo, cam and carb are regulated, generally much more rules.
      3. pic buggy: no idea which motor of the above is used

          1. Did you copy/paste the 'embed video' html from youtube? I think the comment system filters that unless you use the 'embed video' button to the upper right of the comment box. Works like a charm, but you need to convince youtube to give you the long URL (which they are making harder and harder these days).

  12. <img src="×468.jpg&quot; width="400">
    I don't know what it is, but it suddenly seems like Renault Caravelles are everywhere. I've repeatedly run across different photos of them lately. After not seeing even one for YEARS. It's weird and a little creepy, like they're stalking me. The fact that that they are horribly bad cars wrapped in a body shape that I am irresistibly drawn to makes it worse.

        1. My father was a used car manager at a US new car dealership when I grew up in the 60's. As a kid I held Renaults as some of my favorite cars to beg my poor father to drive home instead of nice comfortable American cars. I can't exactly recall a Caravelle but many Dauphines and later the "fast and smooth" R8's which really felt and sounded much better than many contemporary imports of the day. The watercooled rear engine was very quiet, especially when the comparison was a VW or a front engine Simca or Opel. And of course the Renault had a smoother ride. What I am trying to say is having a facination with old Renaults is not so crazy.

      1. That was my first thought, too, but it didn't quite look right. I was glad to see Tanshanomi post up what it actually was, because I had no other guesses.

  13. I'd definitely agree that this is one of the most interesting galleries I've ever seen. Thanks for sharing!
    Ikarus busses raise a lot of memories, remember that special smell on the way to school – artificial leather, plastics and blue smoke. In my mind, they have always been raced, though. =8^) Amazing to read that Ikraus' were sold in Canada!

  14. I did not get a chance to thank Kamil for the great article yesterday, so I'll add my piece late now…dziękuję, fantastic!
    How about the old front "along side the driver" engine busses that were Polish made? A Jelcz " Ogórek " or so-called "pickle"? They were the original kings of the longer distance routes in Poland. Those may be all gone. Talk about gear-jamming!!! They must have been non syncro or worn out the way they were driven.

    1. I remember those. They were rare even in the 80s. If I find something on those, or Autosan, or any others, I'll write it up.

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