The Kleber Southern Rally, a road rally first run in Surrey and Sussex in 1973 is where it all started. Four years later The Southern Rally of 1977 was unusual. With a new sponsor Happy Eater the event offered a mixture of night and daytime stages - 18 hours of motor sport. For two more years it remained at 18 hours – by then, all at night. 1981 saw the first use of the Camberley forests.
Development grew faster from 1985, the first year using the forests of Ringwood and Wareham. National status was granted to the event in 1986, the events new home became Bournemouth.
In 1997 the events Rally Show, staged at Somerley Park home of event patron Lord Somerton, morphed into the Somerley Experience and Motorfair.
In 1998 the then Bournemouth Winter Rally became the first round of the national series with its own dedicated radio station.
Rallye Sunseeker 2002 was voted Best Forest Event of the Year by the Association of Central Southern Motor Clubs.
In 2004 the Friday evening stages through Bournemouth's Lower Gardens and Pier Approach were turned into a floodlit spectacular.
The 21st anniversary of Malcolm Wilson’s 1987 victory in an MG Metro 6R4 was celebrated in 2008, while the 25th anniversary of the iconic car’s launch was also marked.
Until 2008, Rick Smith had been Clerk of the Course every year except 1981 when Paul Skinner took over. Although Smith shared duties from time to time with Stan Griffin and Alan Spratt, his former administration deputy Robert Pike is now in charge. Smith remains very involved as Event Director.
In 2010 Poole joined Bournemouth as joint host with the Ceremonial Start in Poole Quay on Friday replacing the traditional night stage in Bournemouth and attracting more than 5,000 people.
In 2011, after 25 years as National Rallying’s annual curtain-raiser, Rallye Sunseeker became the opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship. Voted for by drivers, co-drivers and officials Rallye Sunseeker won "Rally of the Year" at the annual BRC Awards.