This particular era was not to last. On the 1986 Rallye de Portugal, four spectators were killed; then in May, on the Tour de Corse, Henri Toivonen went over the edge of a mountain road and was incinerated in the fireball that followed. FISA immediately changed the rules again: rallying after 1987 would be in Group A cars, closer to the production model. One notably successful car during this period was the Lancia Delta Integrale, dominating world rallying during 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992 – winning six consecutive world rally championships, a feat yet unbeaten.
Rising investor confidence also indicates a rally, and it is perhaps more powerful than any economic indicator because when investors believe something is going to happen (a rally, for example), they tend to take action (purchasing shares in order to profit from expected price increases) that actually turn expectations into reality. Although it is an objective concept, investor sentiment shows through in mathematical measurements such as the put/call ratio, the advance/decline line, IPO activity, and the amount of outstanding margin debt.
1968 brought the first of a series of British-organised intercontinental rallies, the Daily Express London-Sydney Marathon, which attracted over 100 crews including a number of works teams and top drivers; it was won by the Hillman Hunter of Andrew Cowan/Brian Coyle/Colin Malkin. Not to be outdone, the rival Daily Mirror sponsored in 1970 the London-Mexico World Cup Rally, linking the stadia of two successive football World Cups, on a route that crossed Europe to Bulgaria and back before shipping out from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, after looping around South America, and a run through some of the most frightening sections of Peru's road race, the Caminos del Inca, they wrap it up being shipped to Panama and a final run up Central America. The Ford Escort of Hannu Mikkola and Gunnar Palm won. These were followed in 1974 by the London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally, and in 1977 by the Singapore Airlines London-Sydney Rally.
On his promotion for 1993, McRae initially drove the Prodrive-built Group A Subaru Legacy alongside Finns Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola and Markku Alén. McRae then won his first WRC rally in the car at that year's Rally New Zealand. It was also the first rally win for the newly formed Subaru World Rally Team, shortly before the Legacy was due to be pensioned off in favour of the new Subaru Impreza 555. Such were the rising fortunes of his young Subaru factory team as they competed against the frontrunning Toyota-powered Team TTE, who were excluded from the championship after the 1995 Rally Catalunya due to the use of an illegal air restrictor. It took only until 1995 for McRae to win the drivers title, which he secured with a victory in a straight contest with his double champion teammate, Carlos Sainz, on the season-ending Rally of Great Britain. Although still a winner with the outfit in individual rallies in succeeding years, including, increasingly, more specialised events such as the Acropolis Rally, Safari Rally and the Tour de Corse, McRae could not better second place in the standings in either 1996 or 1997, on both occasions behind Finland and Mitsubishi Ralliart's Tommi Mäkinen. He helped Subaru complete their run of three consecutive manufacturers' titles during this time. In what would turn out to be his final season with the team, in 1998 he won three more rallies and placed third in the standings, as well as winning the Race of Champions in Gran Canaria, the Canary Islands.
Although there had been exceptions like the outlandish Ford V8 specials created by the Romanians for the 1936 Monte Carlo Rally, rallies before World War II had tended to be for standard or near-standard production cars, a rule supported by manufacturers because it created a relatively even playing field. After the war, most competing cars were production saloons or sports cars, with only minor modifications to improve performance, handling, braking and suspension. This kept costs down and allowed many more people to afford the sport using ordinary family cars, so entry lists grew into the hundreds.
Many early rallies were called trials, and a few still are, although this term is now mainly applied to the specialist form of motor sport of climbing as far as you can up steep and slippery hills. And many meets or assemblies of car enthusiasts and their vehicles are still called rallies, even if they involve merely the task of getting there (often on a trailer).
The main change over that period has been in the cars, and in the professionalisation and commercialisation of the sport. Manufacturers had entered works cars in rallies, and in their forerunner and cousin events, from the very beginning: the 1894 Paris-Rouen was mainly a competition between them, while the Thousand Mile Trial of 1900 had more trade than private entries.
The 1974 London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally followed four years later. The rally travelled southwards into Africa but a navigational error saw most of the rally become lost in Algerian desert. Eventually only seven teams reached the southernmost point of the rally in Nigeria with five teams making it back to West Germany having driven all legs and only the winning team completing the full distance. This, coupled with the economic climate of the 1970s the heat went out of intercontinental rallying after a second London–Sydney Marathon in 1977. The concept though was revived in 1979 for the original Paris-Dakar Rally. The success of the Dakar would eventually see intercontinental rallying recognised as its own discipline; the Rally Raid.
On 5 August 2006, McRae competed for Subaru in the first live televised American rally in Los Angeles as part of the X-Games. McRae rolled the car on the penultimate corner after landing awkwardly from a jump, which damaged the front bumper and left front tyre. Despite this, McRae kept the car running and continued on to the finish, his time only 0.13 seconds slower than eventual winner Travis Pastrana. McRae was, though, to have one more opportunity at world championship level: he was unexpectedly entered for his final rally by semi-works Kronos Citroën at Rally Turkey in September, where he replaced Sébastien Loeb while the Frenchman recovered from an injury he sustained in a cycling accident immediately prior to the event. A final-stage alternator problem consigned him and returning co-driver Nicky Grist, to a final placing outside the top ten.
Most of the works drivers of the 1950s were amateurs, paid little or nothing, reimbursed their expenses and given bonuses for winning (although there were certainly exceptions, such as the Grand Prix drivers who were brought in for some events). Then in 1960 came arguably the first rallying superstar (and one of the first to be paid to rally full-time), Sweden's Erik Carlsson, driving for Saab.