Marlboro Rally Car – During motorsport’s tobacco sponsorship era, cigarette brand Marlboro backed some of the world’s most successful rally cars. Vivid red and white Marlboro livery became synonymous with rally racing across teams like Toyota, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, and Audi campaigning Marlboro-branded machines to victory.
- 1 Group B Supercars
- 2 Marlboro Rally Car – Lancia Stratos HF
- 3 Marlboro Rally Car – Peugeot 205 T16
- 4 Marlboro Rally Car – Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165
- 5 Marlboro Rally Car – Mitsubishi Lancer WRC
- 6 Marlboro Rally Car – Audi Quattro A1/A2
- 7 Marlboro Rally Car – Subaru Impreza WRC
- 8 Banned Tobacco Sponsorship
Group B Supercars
Marlboro sponsorship soared most prominently in the 1980s Group B era. Cigarette money helped fund development of outrageous supercars packing immense turbocharged horsepower.
Toyota’s Marlboro-liveried Celica Twincam Turbo became a Group B legend thanks to its mammoth power-to-weight ratio and spectacular racing achievements. Inspired by Toyota’s success, Audi and Peugeot followed with stunning Marlboro-branded Group B racers of their own.
Marlboro Rally Car – Lancia Stratos HF
While not officially sponsored, Italian rally icon Lancia Stratos made Marlboro’s vibrant livery famous in the 1970s. Many drivers sported the unmistakable red color scheme linking America’s top cigarette brand to world rally dominance.
The Stratos’ big Marlboro branding aligned with its radical mid-engine V6 design that made traditional rear-drive rally sedans obsolete seemingly overnight. Marlboro money propelled the Stratos’ success.
Marlboro Rally Car – Peugeot 205 T16
Peugeot Talbot Sport took Marlboro sponsorship into the late Group B era with its beastly mid-engine 205 T16 packing over 500 turbocharged horsepower. Drivers Juha Kankkunen and Timo Salonen piloted the otherworldly 205 to back-to-back WRC titles.
This compact hatchback destroyed the competition thanks to immense power and agile handling. Peugeot’s Marlboro livery soon dominated rally scenes worldwide through posters and merchandise. The 205 T16 stands as one of Group B’s definitive cars.
Marlboro Rally Car – Toyota Celica GT-Four ST165
Toyota continued its Marlboro association into the 1990s with the spectacular Celica GT-Four. Marlboro’s support aided the Celica’s transformation into a WRC powerhouse securing manufacturer’s titles in 1992 and 1993.
Toyota’s rally sponsorship benefited production cars by honing the Celica’s turbocharged 3S-GTE motor and advanced differentials. This homologation Celica became a JDM icon integrating racing technology into an attainable package.
Marlboro Rally Car – Mitsubishi Lancer WRC
Mitsubishi likewise tapped Marlboro backing to campaign its Lancer Evolution as a WRC entry through the late 1990s and early 2000s. Drivers like Tommi Mäkinen utterly dominated in Marlboro-liveried Lancers.
This Evo’s big-budget WRC effort enabled trickle-down tech like its active differentials and turbocharged 4G63 engine. Mitsubishi’s giant-killing Evo legend owes partial thanks to its lucrative Marlboro sponsor deals during the Lancer’s WRC peak.
Marlboro Rally Car – Audi Quattro A1/A2
Audi’s revolutionary Quattro turned rally on its head in the early 1980s thanks to AWD traction and turbocharged five-cylinder power. With support from Marlboro’s deep pockets, Audi continuously refined the Quattro through A1 and A2 iterations.
Multiple driver’s championships proved Audi’s mastery translating innovations like five-cylinder turbo engines into rally dominance with the help of Marlboro sponsorship activating bigger budgets. Quattro made AWD standard in WRC.
Marlboro Rally Car – Subaru Impreza WRC
Subaru adopted vivid Marlboro livery as it entered WRC competition in the 1990s with the Impreza. Consecutive manufacturer’s titles proved Subaru’s dedication backed by ample funding.
Prodrive oversaw extensive modifications like a strengthened chassis and bespoke differentials to create the championship-winning Marlboro Impreza. Driver Colin McRae became a global superstar piloting the Marlboro car.
Banned Tobacco Sponsorship
By the mid-2000s however, most legislatures banned tobacco advertising, forcing Marlboro and other cigarette brands to withdraw from motorsport sponsorship. Team budgets lost millions overnight.
While controversial, the flashy presence of Marlboro livery became intrinsically tied to rally’s competitive spirit. The vibrant colors and edgy typeface fit naturally on the cars’ daring shapes. For enthusiasts, Marlboro left an indelible legacy still fondly remembered.