Top 10 Group B Cars
The Group B era enlivened special stages during the 1980s. Richard Heseltine looks back at ten rally pin-ups from a gladiatorial age
Citroen BX 4TC
Even by Group B standards, Citroen’s take on the theme made few concessions to beauty. With its long front overhang, four fully-functional doors and hydro-pneumatic suspension, the BX 4TC appeared unlike any other car in its class. This would have been of no consequence had it been competitive, but it wasn’t. Unfortunately, the BX 4TC’s arrival on the World Rally Championship in 1986 coincided with Group B’s cancellation. The works equipe participated in 15 events, of which only three were rounds of the WRC. There were only two finishes. Even then, the BX 4TC was generally humbled by Group A machinery.
AutoFact: 18 of the 20 rally cars were destroyed, although bare shells have since emerged.
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Most Group B cars were built on the principle of purpose first, looks second. The Ford RS200 was the exception to the rule. Here was a bespoke machine rather than a cartoonish mash-up with token aesthetic nods to a production model, even if the use of cut-down Sierra doors (and Sierra tail-lights for that matter) lends it a slight air of ‘parts bin special’. Tony Southgate landed the gig to design this brave new world in 1983 with Ford’s John Wheeler charged with developing project ‘B200’. Unfortunately, the RS200 never won a round of the WRC prior to its cancellation.
AutoFact: Several kit form replicas exist including one that is Austin Maestro-based…
MG Metro 6R4
The radical V6-engined 6R4 made its debut on the 1984 York National Rally, Tony Pond claiming eight fastest stage times and a lead of almost three minutes only to be forced out by an alternator fire. The car was successfully homologated on November 1 of the following year, just in time for the RAC Rally which rounded out the ’85 WRC. Pond claimed a magnificent third overall behind two factory Lancias, and great things were expected for the following year. Unfortunately, the British challenger had a terrible finishing record in 1986, by which time Group B was heading for the embalming table.
AutoFact: ‘Whitstable Will’ Gollop claimed the ’92 FIA European Championship driver’s title in a 6R4.
1983 Australian delivered Porsche 911 Carrera cabriolet 5 speed factory turbo body. Absolutely stunning and rare 1983 Porsche 911 SC, only one of a handful of Australian delivered turbo body 83 Porsche’s, presented in glacier blue with black leather interior with the desirable 3.0, 204hp engine, totally original throughout, with original factory fitted Fuchs alloys and factory fitted rear wha
Cobra by Pilgrim Motorsports This stunning Cobra was built and SVA/IVA registered new 01/07/2018 and its one owner has only covered 327 miles since . (Shown on the factory stand at the Stonliegh show) Finished in Black with Orange stripes Detailed with Chrome bumpers, Cobra badges, Stainless steel wipers, Wind deflectors, Smoked sun visors, Chrome mirrors, Two single hoop stainless steel roll
Cobra by Pilgrim Motorsport This stunning Cobra was built and SVA/IVA Registered 01/11/2017 and its one owner from new has only covered 105 miles since build Finished in stunning Red with Wimbledon white stripes Detailed with chrome bumpers, Cobra badges, Polished aluminium stone guards, Chrome centre mounted fuel filler, etc The beautiful cream leather interior with red piping is highlighted
2001 Plymouth Prowler 1 Owner from new 5087 Original Miles Optional Chrome Wheels and Multi Disc CD player Original Books Only 527 produced in 2001 Last year for the Plymouth brand Chrysler engineers were given free rein to design whatever they wanted in a “hot rod” or “sportster” type vehicle. Thomas C. Gale, Chrysler’s design and international director “love
1950 Talbo Lago T26 Record Cabriolet by Antem The 1949 Paris Salon show car Rare and desirable coachbuilt T26 cabriolet by Antem Post-war, independent coil-sprung chassis with superb handling and road manners 4,482-cc inline six-cylinder with twin Zenith-Stromberg carburettors Chassis number 101001 In October 1946, Talbot-Lago had a small stand behind Peugeot at the Paris Salon. The bran
Stunning restored condition Rare and sought-after 1962 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible One of only 7,149 built Desirable one-year-only design Gorgeous, factory correct color combination Previous long-term ownership (over 30 years) 394ci 345 hp V8 engine! Incredibly well optioned with: Power Convertible Top Power Windows Power Seat Power Steering Power Brakes Safety S
This late-2013 Mazda MX-5 is a fantastic car. It has the larger 2.0-litre engine for great performance and the clever Power Retractable Hard Top, which gives the best of both worlds – a superb closed coupe which, at the touch of a button, transforms into an open-top roadster. Finished in gleaming True Red, the sports car looks stunning, roof up or down. and is in truly lovely condition, insid
This timewarp 1987 Porsche 924S is a car we have sold before and we are delighted to have it back in stock. It must be the one of the very best examples available in the UK. Finished in eye-catching Glacier White, it is in lovely original condition, inside and out. The interior is black with pinstripe fabric, and no cracks in the dashboard and no very little wear to the seats. Originally a c
very beautifull Volkswagen Maggiolone year 1969 engine 1.200 cc fully restored and original original black plates asi targa oro (Italian Historical Car Register) restored in every detail fully working, nothing work to do Ready to use We offer logistics and home delivery service. Shipping costs are the responsibility of the buyer. Wide range of cars & m
This El Camino would make a great father and son project. It is a nice driver with lots of potential. It has the original 307 V8 with a 350 Turbo automatic transmission, power steering, dual reservoir drum brakes, factory A/C, Olympic Gold with black vinyl interior, Rally Wheels with BFG raised white letter radials and dual exhaust. Grab it for the low price before I fix it up! Body: Truck Col
Audi Quattro S1 E2
Audi famously ushered four-wheel drive and forced induction into top-flight rallying with the Quattro with devastating effect. Tthe S1 E2 in many ways came to define the craziness of the Group B era. With its papercut-sharp bodywork add-ons, the S1 E2 looked every inch the iron fist inside an iron glove, and with good reason. This steroidal monster produced up to 590bhp depending on boost, Audi also experimenting with ‘PDK’ transmissions, forerunners to modern-day dual-clutch arrangements. The S1 E2 competed in only six events prior to Audi’s withdrawal from the WRC in 1986.
AutoFact: Bobby Unser used an S1 E2 to claim a new course record at Pikes Peak in 1986.
Lancia Delta S4
While notionally related to the production Delta, beneath the S4’s Frankensteinian outline it was a different beast entirely. And it really was bestial thanks to a mid-mounted 1959cc four-cylinder engine which boasted a turbocharger and a supercharger. The car was an instant winner at the end of 1985 and claimed three WRC wins into the following year. Fabrizio Tabaton also sealed the ’86 European Championship drivers’ title in an S4. Sadly, the model is perhaps remembered more for the crash on the Tour de Corse that year which claimed the lives of Henri Toivonen and Sergio Cresto.
AutoFact: The passing of Group B at the end of the year also nixed the S4’s successor, the Group S ECV1.
Peugeot 205 T16
Peugeot’s budget was of the eye-watering variety and nothing was off-limits. A turbocharged 1775cc four-cylinder engine was created out of an ‘XU’ diesel unit, but with a 16-valve DOHC head to run on petrol. Under the FIA’s equivalency regulations whereby displacement was multiplied by a factor of 1.4 for forced induction set-ups, the end capacity was 2485cc. This meant the T16 would slot into the 2000-2500cc category. It was the most successful car of the Group B era with two WRC titles and 16 wins to its credit. It also foretold Paris-Dakar glory.
AutoFact: Subcontractor Heuliez made 200 road cars for homologation purposes.
The 037 was the first car built explicitly to class regulations rather than adapted to fit. Abarth, which had become Fiat and Lancia’s defacto competition department, was responsible for its design and construction, but, contrary to popular belief, the 037 owes little to the Montecarlo production car save for the mid-engined layout and the centre-section. For starters, its supercharged four-banger was turned through 90 degrees from a transverse placing to a longitudinal position, and allied to a ZF five-speed transaxle. The 037 was bloodied on the 1982 Rally Costa Smeralda, and Lancia went on to claim the 1983 manufacturers’ title.
AutoFact: The 037 was the last rear-wheel drive car to win the WRC.
Strictly speaking, this car predated Group B but it did lead to an ‘evolutionary’ model which competed in period. Charles Pozzi commissioned Michelotto to build the first Group 4 rally car. Pozzi team regular, the brilliant Jean-Claude Andruet, steered it into a two-minute lead on the 1981 Tour de Corse only to retire the car with a broken fuel pump. In 1982, he finished second overall on the Tour de Corse for Ferrari’s best-ever result on the WRC. Eleven Group 4 308GTBs were purportedly made, along with four Group B variants which featured a reworked version of the Quattrovalvole V8.
AutoFact: The Group B variations were 30kg heavier than the Group 4 cars.
Renault 5 Turbo
Like the Ferrari, Renault’s mid-engined weapon was competing off-piste before the arrival of Group B, but it spawned variations on the theme that were WRC regulars at the height of the movement. The 5 Turbo won the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally and the following year’s Tour de Corse. The first Group B edition ran in 1983 with a best result of third place on the following year’s Corsican round. The ultimate ‘Maxi’ version arrived a year later with Ragnotti claiming honour on the Tour de Corse. As a complete aside, a 5 Turbo also starred in rubbish Bond flick Never Say Never Again.
AutoFact: Only 20 Maxi variants were built.
It could be argued that Mazda never fully committed to Group B as it didn’t provide much in the way of finance for this project. It was left to Mazda Rally Team Europe to turn the popular rotary-engined coupé into a rally weapon, but the four-wheel drive revolution had already happened by the time it began competing in 1984. Packing around 300bhp, it was also losing the horsepower war. Nevertheless, it didn’t disgrace itself with a best-ever result of third place on the 1985 Acropolis Rally. Rod Millen also enjoyed success with his homebrewed 4WD car in the USA.
AutoFact: A four-wheel drive Group S version was under construction when the category was cancelled.
Pictures courtesy of Rota Archive and LAT