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As you've never seen before - Gallery: Group B prototypes

  • Peugeot 205T16 - 0
  • Lancia Delta S4 - 1
  • Daihatsu 926 Turbo De Tomaso - 2
  • Toyota 222D - 3
  • Porsche 959 - 4
  • Peugeot 305 V6 rally - 5
  • MG Metro 6R4 - 6
  • MG Metro 6R4 - 7
  • Lancia 037 Stradale - 8
  • Lancia 037 Stradale - 9
  • Lada Eva - 10
  • Ford RS200 - 11
  • Ferrari GTO Evoluzione - 12
  • Ferrari GTO - 13
  • Citroen Visa 1000 Pistes - 14
  • Citroen BX 4TC - 15
  • Moskvich 2141-KR - 16
  • Moskvich 2141-KR - 17
  • Audi Sport quattro - 18
  • Audi Sport quattro - 19
  • Moskvich 2141-KR - 20
  • Print

Group B was all the rage in the early '80s, providing some of motor sport's most spectacular thrills. Here are some of the lesser-known varieties.

Group B was intended to revolutionise motor sport. It was effectively a technology-based formula for track and rally events, which encouraged manufacturers to pour in money (in return for limited production volumes) and create the ultimate racers.

There was a flurry activity, with European and Japanese carmakers building cars in anticipation of the the series. The track-based cars, typified by the Ferrari GTO and Porsche 959 never saw circuit action, but the rally cars went on to enjoy one of the sport's greatest periods - sadly cut short in 1987.

Here we have gathered images of some of the more interesting models in roadgoing (and unliveried) form for your enjoyment. It's far from complete, given that cars to receive Group B certification were as wide and diverse as the BMW M1 and Peugeot 504. Many of the cars that did well under Group B, including the Toyota Celica and Opel Manta, were effectively revised Group 4 campaigners... so we're limiting our gallery to the weirder and more wonderful cars - and those that just look cool on your drive way.

1. Peugeot 205T16
Is this the best looking Group B car of them all? Certainly it was the most successful, establishing the formula for all challengers to follow - mid-engine, turbo, four-wheel drive and a spaceframe chassis. Jean Todt, who masterminded the program, went on to greater things at Ferrari and the FIA.

2. Lancia Delta S4
You have to love any car that features both a supercharger and turbochargers - it's a shame there aren't more out there. The Lancia Delta S4 was one such car, and proved to be an even wackier rally weapon than the 037 that preceded it. Again, a great idea, who's best competitive days were denied it thanks to the abandonment of Group B at the end of 1986.

3. Daihatsu 926 Turbo De Tomaso
The easiest way of describing the 926 is as a three-cylinder Japanese version of the Renault 5 Turbo. With a 1-litre power unit, it wasn't endowed with power, but it certainly looked like a production reality when it was launched at the 1985 Tokyo Motor Show. However, the 926's planned for competition debut in 1987 mitigated against it, and it was quietly canned...

4. Toyota 222D
Toyota Team Europe came up with this 600bhp variation on the MR2 theme to replace its successful (in Africa) Celica. With a mid-engine set-up decided upon, both four- and rear-wheel drive versions were trialled, but in the end the project was dropped in favor of the Group A Celica.

5. Porsche 959
Initially known as the Gruppe B, the Porsche 959 became known as the '80s ultimate supercar. Maximum speed was close to 200mph, and its performance was easily exploited... but would you rather have a Ferrari GTO?

6. Peugeot 305 V6 rally
Before it arrived at the 205T16, Peugeot experimented with a mid-engined version of its mid-line 305 saloon for Group B rallying. Thankfully, its supermini was lauched in 1983, and became the perfect launchpad for the company's rallying efforts. A quirky might-have-been.

7. MG Metro 6R4
The brilliant Tony Pond putting the prototype 6R4 (which was powered by a cut and shut Rover V8) through its paces for the press at its launch. Austin Rover Motorsport was moving towards a hugely successful period in touring cars, and it was hoped that the Metro would do the same in the forests.

8. MG Metro 6R4
Austin Rover Motorsport and Williams Grand Prix Engineering joined forced to produce the wonderful little spaceframe Metro 6R4 for Group B. Unlike its rivals, the car didn't boast any form of forced induction, and its jewel-like V624V engine - contrary to popular opinion - was not based on the Rover V8 or Honda V6. It did go on to gain a couple of turbos and power the Jaguar XJ220, though...

9. Lancia 037 Stradale
Kudos to Lancia for producing a mid-engined supercar to go rallying, just like the Stratos back in the 1970s. The 037 was an early Group B challenger, that would soon make way for the amazing Delta S4.

10. Lancia 037 Stradale
This early prototype of the Lancia Rally shows that the company had long since given up with the idea of producing a car that looked like the delectable Montecarlo, even if that had been the intention. The mid-engined 037 was the last bastion of RWD success in a category soon to be swamped by the Audi quattro.

11. Lada Eva
Only Group B fans will know of this turbocharged mid-engined rear-wheel drive Samara-based offering. It was never officially entered into the category, and budget (or a lack of it) precluded its adventures west of the Iron Curtain. Although the Russian company had decided to take it rallying, development was slow, and the end of Group B rendered the Eva obsolete.

12. Ford RS200
Developed under the auspices of Ford's brilliant motor sport boss Stuart Turner, the RS200 was a pure-Group B challenger that replaced the stillborn Escort RS1700T. Cosworth developed the turbocharged engine, and Reliant ended up putting the cars together at its factory in Tamworth. A brilliant piece of design which would have dominated Group B rallying had events not got in the way.

13. Ferrari GTO Evoluzione
Built as a development of the GTO, the Evoluzione was a half-way house between that car and the F40 that followed. It was intended solely for motor sport, unlike the F40. Three were built, and the project faltered with the end of Group B.

14. Ferrari GTO
The Group B car that will need no introduction at all. But the GTO never actually competed in any Group B events and ended up being one of the most delectable road cars of all time. Massively different from the 308GTB that many people mistake it for - featuring a longitudinal V8 twin-turbo, Kevlar panels, and a Harvy Postlethwaite designed chassis.

15. Citroen Visa 1000 Pistes
A sensible first entry for Citroen into Group B rallying, with four-wheel drive and a 1.6-litre PSA engine and four carburettors. Against the mighty Audi quattros, though, it was outgunned - pure and simple.

16. Citroen BX 4TC
Is this the Group B car with the longest front overhang ever? It was powered by a CX Turbo-based engine mounted longitudinally, and rather a long way forward. The 4WD system was never going to make up for this car's bulk and unflattering weight distribution - and in 1985, company overlord Peugeot sensibly pulled the plug.

17. Moskvich 2141-KR
Rear view of the Moskvich Aleko based rally car, and it's more than likely that under that matte-black engine cover beats the heart of a turbocharged Lada engine. We'd love to know more.

18. Moskvich 2141-KR
Considering the roadgoing Moskvich Aleko is a Soviet facsimile of the Talbot Alpine, the 'Group B' version looks very radical indeed. In concept, it's very similar to the Peugeot 205T16 and Ford RS200 - without those cars' exquisite looks.

19. Audi Sport quattro
Note that from the rear, the Audi Sport quattro is very similar to the standard model. This worm's eye view doesn't give too much of the game away, but note those deep dish Ronal alloy wheels. Lovely stuff.

20. Audi Sport quattro
The original quattro was engineered for Group 4 rallying, but became the Group B era's most potent force in its early years. However, by the arrival of purpose built cars (such as the Peugeot 205T16), it was shortened to become the Sport quattro (in roadgoing trim) and S2 (on the stages). Note the Audi 80 windscreen, and inside it had a bespoke dashboard based on the 100...

21. Moskvich 2141-KR
Although the Moskvich Aleko was never sold outside of Soviet Bloc, the company's engineers worked on a Group B prototype version. It never saw the light of day.


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