The choices of rally cars are many and varied, starting from tired but functional clubmans cars up to recent World Rally Cars with a half-million pound price tag. Much will depend upon your aspirations and ambitions, but if you're not absolutely determined to be the next Colin McRae, it's probably sensible to start with something fairly modest and build up.
You won't start rallying much cheaper than in Formula 1000, where basically standard 1-litre cars are used as a great way of starting. The Peugeot 205 Challenge is also a perfect place to start, but don’t underestimate the level of competition.
If you just want to do some local events on disused airfields, Mk2 Ford Escorts, Sunbeams, Vauxhall Novas, 205s and other cheap cars will get you started for a couple of grand. But they'll probably be a bit rough and ready! If four-wheel drive is your preference, club-spec Subaru Imprezas are getting pretty affordable, but watch out for the cost of spares if they break.
For forest rallying, which is where a lot of people want to get to, the 205 and F1000 options are still very valid, while a well-prepared 1400cc car like a Peugeot 106 or Nova will do good service in the BTRDA championship. The added plus for this series is that the 1400cc cars run ahead of the main field, so the stages are still pretty smooth. Check out the latest Rally First initiative, which has been created by the BTRDA to get people rallying as inexpensively as possible.
If you are really serious about getting to the top, you need to consider the British Rally Championship, where you'll need a recent spec car complying with specific regulations. The latest Group N Mitsubishi Evo or Subaru Impreza are popular choices, but the costs are much higher.
For pure fun rallying in a great atmosphere, the British Historic Rally Championship is very popular with big entries of Ford Escorts, Mini Coopers and Porsche 911s. You can get started with a car at around £12,000, but a top-spec Escort will cost four to five times that amount.
Whatever car or championship you settle on, make sure you have done your homework properly, as regulations for rally cars – and which events they can contest – can be something of a minefield. It's also important to check out what level of licence is needed for the category you are considering. Not all championships are open to holders of National B rally licences, and those higher up the ladder will almost certainly require a higher grade of licence, which has to be earned by finishing events at National B level and getting your licence signed by the Clerk of the Course.