Group B and Group S Rally cars that never raced
With the cancellation of Group B and Group S events following a chain of unfortunate incidents, manufacturers had to abandon their Group S efforts.
Group S was suppose to replace the Group B in World Rally Championship events but with the cancellation of Group B events in favour of Group A events, the Group S was subsequently cancelled.
Several automotive manufacturer's secretly developed all-new prototypes to come up with a cutting edge race car to compete in Group S events before its last minute cancellation.
These are several known prototypes that were suppose to compete in Group S events.
Audi Sport Quattro RS 002 Gruppe S
Audi Sport Quattro RS 002 Gruppe S. Photo credit Audi media
Not much is known about the mid-engine Gruppe S Quattro project. It is said that it was in development from early 1982 and in 1984 it was unofficially unveiled by the Audi racing division as the replacement for the Audi Quattro. It was evident that Audi needed something better to compete against the likes of Lancia Delta S4 and Peugeot 205 Turbo 16.
Though this car was supposed to be an instrument of Audi's WRC dominance, it was built without the blessings or knowledge of the Volkswagen Audi director board. It is said that Audi chairman Doctor Ferdinand Piech didn't know about the existence of the project and the car was developed outside the official workshops and development center in Ingolstadt. It was simply called the Gruppe S as the project never given an official name nor officially existed.
In 1983 the Lancia Rally 037 won the World Rally Manufacturer's Championship, the last time for a rear-wheel-drive car to win a rally championship. Small and agile Peugeot 205 T16 proved to be a massive success as well. Both Lancia Rally 037 and Peugeot 205 T16 were rear-mid-engine cars. Soon, Audi realized that the front-engine four-wheel-drive layout is soon going to be outdated against the evolving cars used by the competitors.
Audi Quattro A2
Even when Audi secured the manufacturer's title in 1982 and 1984 seasons, Audi team manager Roland Gumpert knew that the success of Quattro and its reign of terror is going to be limited in the long run, and this is why he decided to develop a mid-engine car.
After some discussions in 1984, Ferdinand Piech insisted on further developing the Audi Quattro A2 instead of developing a mid-engine car despite the advantages provided with the improved weight distribution and its effect on the handling.
The engineers then had to shorten the wheelbase of the Audi Quattro A2 rally car to improve weight distribution and handling. This new car was now known as the Sport Quattro. Despite the improved weight distribution and power output of the engine, the car was still a handful to drive with its twitchy chassis. After testing the new Sport Quattro, Stig Blomqvist decided to stick to his old yet proven Quattro A2 and went on to win the 1984 manufacturer's championship for Audi.
Audi Sports Quattro RS 002 Gruppe S. Photo credit Audi media
Despite Ferdinand Piech's scepticism, engineers at the Ingolstadt knew that more extreme measures are required to stay competitive in the long run. The only viable solution was a mid-engine layout. By late 1984, the first-ever Audi mid-engine rally prototype was ready for its initial test runs.
1983 World Rally Champion Walter Rohrl with his experience regarding mid-engine rally cars was keen to test drive the new car. He openly criticized the understeer issues plaguing the Audi Sport Quattro in tight corners.
It is said that Ferdinand Piech eventually gave his approval for the project but asked the team to develop it secretly under the raider.
Roland Gumpert then moved the development of the project to a facility in Czechoslovakia.
The Desna research and test facility was literally in the middle of nowhere far away from the main cities and it had originally been conceived for Porsche but since Audi was ready to take over Porsche, Desna became the home of the Gruppe S prototype.
By 1985, the mid-engine Gruppe S prototypes started to appear alongside the E2 variant of Sport Quattro. Since the police kept constant patrols around the facility to keep the locals away and their constant instructions to the locals to keep things a secret made the research and testing easier for Audi engineers.
Audi Quattro mid-engine prototypes Image credit Pinterest
The prototypes looked just like the Sport Quattro but for side ducts to cool the engine. The engine was the same as before and the improved weight distribution resulted in better speed and overall handling of the car. After some testing, Walter Rohrl was given the opportunity to test the vehicle on a gravel road near Salzburg, Austria. However, it was soon discovered that someone has leaked the presence of a new car and the media were now spying and hiding nearby, prompting Audi to turn around its trucks and move the car back across the border into Germany. The car was eventually tested on an open asphalt road in Bavaria.
Audi Quattro mid-engine prototypes Image credit Pinterest
Walter Rohrl was impressed with its handling and he was delighted with the car and came across some police officers who then asked Walter Rohrl to do a proper rally start. Despite it being a good day to the Audi team, unknown to them a photographer had been tipped off on the revised test location and he/she has managed to take a picture of the car. The picture appeared in an Austrian newspaper and this put Doctor Ferdinand Piech in a difficult position as he never asked the Volkswagen director board permission for the development of the project.
Within two days' time, all the mid-engine Sport Quattro cars were taken apart for parts under the supervision of Ferdinand Piech due to the pressure he faced from then VW chairman Carl Hahn. This was a massive disappointment for Walter Rohrl as he personally favoured the car.
Audi Sport Quattro RS 002 Gruppe S
Audi Sport Quattro E2 was under further development as of early 1986. During the time it took to see the cancelation of Group B events and stillborn Group S events, another mid-engine Audi prototype was developed. This was called Audi Quattro RS002 Gruppe S.
Not much is known about the Audi Quattro RS002 Gruppe S other than at least two examples were made. One crashed and only one survives today even though Piech personally oversaw the disassembly of all mid-engine prototypes.
The only surviving Audi Quattro RS002 Gruppe S is now in Ingolstadt museum. The car is made out of carbon composites, fiberglass bodywork, and lightweight alloy monocoque spaceframe chassis. A duct in the roof is used to feed the air intake to the intercooler unit. A larger spoiler in the rear was added to improve traction and downforce.
It is said that this prototype has only 12km under the clock and Walter Rohrl wasn't given any opportunity to test it.
The turbocharged, intercooled, electronically fuel injected, dual overhead cam five-cylinder turbocharged engine delivers 700bhp maximum. The weight of the car is rumoured at a featherweight 750kg. The car also has four-wheel drive. With front and rear self-locking differentials. The engine is water-cooled and comes with dry-sump lubrication.
The Power to weight ratio is 1:1 and allows the car to achieve a top speed of 186mph.
Audi Sport Quattro RS 002 Gruppe S
Front and rear suspension consist of struts, coil springs, and a double-wishbone setup. Brakes are dual-circuit with brake servo.
It is said that a road-going variant of the Audi Quattro RS002 Gruppe S was planned to be produced in a limited run but nothing came out of it. Audi unveiled the Avus concept five years later.
The lessons learned during the testing and research were then used to develop Audi TT and Audi R8 making them the spiritual successors to the Gruppe S project.
The only surviving example was restored and was introduced at the 2016 Eifel Rallye Festival in Daun to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the last Group B rally season. The car was presented to the crowd and driven by Walter Rohrl himself.
Since then the car makes occasional appearances during major events around Europe.
Lancia Delta S4 Evo2 Prototype
Lancia Delta S4 Evo2 Prototype
In early 1986, Abarth was already working on an evolution of the Lancia Delta S4 Evo2 variant under the SE040 project. The new car was supposed to feature further aerodynamic improvements along with a more potent and reliable engine and a transmission unit. The front suspension setup was also to be completely redesigned. Better weight distribution was also one of the main goals of the project.
All the aerodynamic tweaks were done after hours of research done in Fiat's wind tunnel from March to April 1986.
It was decided to improve the aerodynamics with the use of side skirts, fins added to the sides of the rear spoiler, a rear diffuser, and a flexible flap fitted underneath the front section of the car. This flexible Teflon flap would aerodynamically deform based on the road speed. This setup helps with providing more or less downforce.
Lancia ECV Group S
It was proposed to move the intercoolers from the rear to a top-mounted position fed through a large roof air intake with the side air scoops now used only to vent the engine bay, therefore allowing the use of smaller side scoops to provide more aerodynamic efficiency.
The front twin headlamp setup used for the Lancia Delta S4 were replaced with a larger dual function single unit per side.
The turbocharged and supercharged engine of the Lancia Delta S4 received a new toothed belt-driven supercharger. It was also proposed to replace the entire unit with a new sequential transmission unit attached to a twin-turbocharged drivetrain due to the recent advances in electronic engine management.
A Formula One derived CVT transmission unit developed by Giacosa was installed and tested at first, but soon it was evident that it was not capable enough to cope with massive turbo surges of the engine.
The SE040 project was canceled due to the ban of all Group B events by the FIA along with unconceived Group S events.
However, for possible use in the Group S replacement category, a new project began using the technologies carried over from the SE040 project. This project was eventually called Experimental Composite Vehicle or ECV in short.
Lancia ECV Group S concept
Group S regulations dictated that only ten units needed to be built to comply with homologation requirements. Group S also allowed manufacturers like Abarth and Lancia could now share the research and development costs as well as mechanical components. This corporation in between Abarth and Lancia to produce the perfect rally car was a match made in heaven.
The Lancia ECV featured an experimental chassis made out of a mix of carbon fibre and an aluminium alloy honeycomb-style monocoque. It is 20% lighter with an equal amount of torsional stiffness than the standard steel space frame ones used in the Lancia Delta S4.
This monocoque chassis was previously developed and produced at Abarth as a part of a structural rigidity study in 1984. This is one of the earliest projects to use computer-assisted design (CAD) language in developing a car.
CAD and advanced composite materials were previously restricted to Formula One racing and according to the Lancia engineers, it was a possibility to reduce the weight of the chassis further up to 40% theoretical target if the research continued.
The entire body was now made out of carbon fibre, Kevlar composites, thermoplastic, and fiberglass body panels.
The Lancia ECV was now equipped with Speedline alloy wheels. These Speedline alloy wheels were made out of composite materials. It is said that an alloy wheel had a weight of only 6kg or 13lb.
Lancia Abarth TriFlux Engine
Lancia Abarth Triflux engine. Photo credit Fiat Archives
Delta S4 twin-charged engine was a masterpiece in terms of engineering. The supercharged turbocharged 1759cc dual overhead cam 16v inline-four engine design eliminated turbo-lag at lower revs to improve throttle response on tight rally stages. This system entirely relied on pneumatic actuators and release valves for engine management since electronic controls were not capable enough.
However, Lancia wanted something better for their new Group S rally monster.
Claudio Lombardi came up with a new design called the TriFlux engine. The 1759 cc dual overhead cam 16v inline-four engine derived from the Lancia Delta S4 was still largely the same, but the head was redesigned to comply with a new sequential twin-turbocharging setup.
The new Abarth 233 ATR 18S TriFlux engine had one exhaust and one inlet valve on each side of the cylinder head, with the twin exhaust manifolds each feeding one big turbocharger. At a lower rev range, one side of the exhaust was shut-off to force all of the exhaust gases through only one turbocharger, therefore, producing good lower rev range performance.
In the mid rev range, the second turbocharger also gradually starts to work and at higher revs, both turbochargers would run in parallel producing the maximum power output possible.
The equally advanced head dissipation system meant that there is less chance of the engine head bulking under higher loads as well as being far easier to cool the engine through the standard liquid cooling system.
The power output of the engine was measured at 600bhp with less low range turbo lag when compared to the twin-charged inline-four of the Lancia Delta S4.
Improved power output and torque figures also meant that the car needed advanced aerodynamic tweaks to improve aerodynamic drag and downforce to provide better handling.
The aerodynamic features implemented for the Lancia Delta S4 E2 or Project SE040 were implemented in the Lancia ECV as well. The side skirts, rear diffuser, smooth side air inlets, rear spoiler with fins attached to its sides, and a new front air dam.
A single dual-purpose headlamp on either side was used instead of the previous twin headlamp system. The rear-mounted intercoolers were originally planned to be relocated to the roof scoop air intake but were moved at an angle behind the side air inlets to further improve aerodynamic drag efficiency.
This new heat dissipation system when enclosed with the rear hatch, required the rear window of the car to be replaced with louvers to improve the efficiency of the engine bay venting. After testing for some time, engineers found out that the enclosed setup was more efficient as it provided a natural low-pressure zone under the rear edge of the car.
The front and rear suspension setup consisted of double unequal wishbones, coil springs, twin Bilstein hydraulic shocks, and an anti-roll bar.
Front and rear ventilated discs with four-piston calipers were included all around.
The Lancia ECV was unveiled at the 1986 Bologna Auto Show. With a single look, it is more than evident that the Lancia ECV embodied the exact key ingredients of the new generation rally monsters; composite chassis and monocoque structure, heavy use of composites, advanced electronics, and engine management, and impressive aerodynamic trickeries.
Lancia Group S Prototype SE042
With FIA announcing Group S as the replacement of Group B for 1988 racing season with Group B being available for one last time with much stricter regulations for the 1987 racing season.
Lancia decided that using the Lancia ECV for Group S, now seemed to be impossible due to the newly revised regulations now restricted maximum power output to 300bhp. The engineering team, therefore, decided to develop a smaller Lancia ECV variant under project SE042.
The new Group S racer was now planned to be directly based on the tubular spaceframe chassis of the Lancia Delta S4 with almost identical mechanical and transmission components. The only significant difference was the use of turbocharged 1430cc Abarth 233 ATR 18S dual overhead cam 16v inline-four engine to comply with the new 300bhp power output limitation.
Since this is a much smaller engine, its lesser power output results in less heat. This meant that the engineers could now come up with various ways to further improve Lancia Delta S4. The front-mounted radiator now can become smaller, allowing engineers to further improve the frontal aerodynamic efficiency and allow enough space to equip the car with a dual shock absorbers setup that engineers had previously failed to implement on the Lancia Delta S4 back in 1985.
It was also planned to use a single rear-mounted air-to-air intercooler, allowing the roof-mounted oil cooler to be relocated to one of the side air intakes previously occupied by an intercooler unit. This in return completely eliminated the need for a roof-mounted air intake scoop resulting in improved aerodynamic efficiency.
The SE042 project was canceled at the conception stage with no physical prototypes has been built since FIA announced its decision to cancel Group S soon after its announcement as the Group B replacement.
Abarth and Lancia decided to work to improve the design of the car even further.
Lancia ECV 2 Study
Lancia ECV2. Image credit Fiat archives
In 1988, as a design study, Lancia unveiled an evolved variant of the Lancia ECV 2. This was called the Lancia ECV 2 Study.
Lancia ECV 2 Study came with carbon fibre and aluminium alloy honeycomb monocoque chassis and TriFlux engine setup as the Lancia ECV. However, the bodywork was now completely revised to feature a more aerodynamically efficient front, rear, and sides inspired by the SE042 project.
Lancia ECV2 Triflux engine. Image credit Fiat archives
The front fascia and rear section of the car were now made as short and low-slung as possible. This resulted in a 100mm shorter overall length when compared to Lancia ECV. This shorter overall length was achieved by relocating the engine's ancillaries to the front of the car which also improved the weight distribution. The twin intercoolers were still located in the rear, but now much smaller and placed lower as possible to improve the center of gravity. Intercoolers were now water-cooled instead of the previous air-cooled ones.
Lancia ECV 2 was made using the dismantled chassis and TriFlux engine of the original Lancia ECV prototype. So, the original ECV doesn't exist anymore and the ECV shown alongside the ECV 2 is a replica built by Giuseppe Volta with a team of Abarth engineers implementing a standard tubular Delta S4 Stradale as its basis and using the original ECV body panels that were kept in storage.
. Image credit Fiat archives
A brand new TriFlux engine was created by hand using original components. This was done with the help of Lancia engineer Claudio Lombardi.
The replica was shown to the public for the first time at the 2010 Rally Legend event in San Marino.
Lancia ECV 2
Lancia ECV and Lancia ECV 2 cars were described as hard to handle by Abarth and Lancia team test drivers due to the lower rev range having too little torque and huge overload of torque at higher revs.
In an attempt to fix the issue, the turbochargers were replaced with smaller units with increased boost levels. The power output maxed at 600bhp and now the torque distribution at lower rev range and higher revs were slightly manageable.
Ford RS200S Group S
Ford RS200S Group S
The development or the existence of the Ford RS200S Group S as a prototype is not known exactly as Ford never officially acknowledged nor unveiled any existing example. However, it was known among the WRC enthusiasts that Ford was cooking something rather special before the Group S category was canceled along with Group B.
The new version was supposed to be equipped with a double-clutch FGB sequential gearbox developed by Hewland. The gearbox was still in the development stage at the time. Another goal of the project was to keep the weight down with the use of more advanced composites and the removal of the roof duct to improve aerodynamics. Water cooling the engine instead of an air-cooled intercooler was also considered a possibility.
John Wheeler, Ford's chief motorsport engineer decided to make the Ford RS200S Group S all by himself. Unknown to many he used to be one of the original designers of the Ford RS200S project.
He then purchased an older Ford RS200 with some rallycross history. This was a crashed car with its back completely ripped off. Soon John Wheeler purchased some original spare parts and began working on the project.
The hood-mounted air tunnel was deleted, and the intercooler system on top of the engine was moved to the rear of the engine. This placement improved the center of gravity and reduced aerodynamic drag as well. This placement however occupies the space previously used to keep the spare tire.
The front end was revised with a new air dam along with an all-new rear diffuser. A new rear spoiler was also added to improve the downforce. The engine bay now featured a tubular spaceframe system instead of being directly integrated into the chassis. This placement allowed much easier access to the mechanical components and to remove the entire engine without much struggle.
The engine to be equipped in the car was a dual overhead cam sixteen valve Cosworth YB engine instead of the original BDT engine. YB engine was specifically developed to power the Group A Ford Sierra RS Cosworth cars from 1986 to 1992. The maximum power output was limited to 300bhp.
The decision for the placement of this engine was due to the ongoing struggle Ford had with Gabriele Cadringher to overturn the decision to abandon Group S events. Gabriele Cadringher was the technical director of the FISA at the time.
Ford proposed a 300bhp limitation for the Group A engines instead of the FIA proposed 1200cc engine capacity limit for the forced induction units. This proposal was tactically advantageous as the Cosworth YB engine was a stronger and reliable engine than the BDT engine.
Maximum power output and torque of the Cosworth YB engine existed in the lower rev range, which in turn reduced the turbo-lag as well as improved the drivability of the vehicle.
The replica built by John Wheeler was equipped with a YBB engine from an early Sierra RS variant. However due to the use of a modern Borg-Warner 6258 turbocharger instead of the original Garrett unit and a multi-point electronic fuel injection, and Pectel T6 standalone engine management. The power output is now measured at 480bhp at 6000rpm instead of the original 400bhp. Maximum torque was rated at 431 lb-ft at 4600rpm.
A Quaife six-speed sequential racing style gearbox along with an AP twin-plate clutch with a magnesium bell housing was used instead of the five-speed manual unit.
Front and rear suspension featured a double-wishbone setup with twin close-coupled coil-spring damper units on the upper wishbone and an antiroll bar with adjustable control blades and adjustable ride height geometry. Rear springs also featured a lower toe-control link. Ventilated discs with four-piston AP calipers were also equipped.
The curb weight is measured at 1020kg when the 65-litre fuel tank is completely filled, weighing lesser than the Ford RS200.
It is not clear how much of the tech that went to this build was actually envisioned by Ford R&D at the time, but John Wheeler insists that he kept working according to the vision Ford had at the time.
Opel Kadett E 4S aka. Vauxhall Astra 4S
Opel Manta B 400
Opel Manta B 400 was introduced in 1983 as the replacement for Opel Ascona B 400, with a rear-wheel-drive front-mid engine layout. The 275 bhp maximum output and rear-wheel-drive layout made it obsolete to compete against the rallying stages already dominated by all-wheel-drive cars such as Peugeot 205 T16 and Audi Quattro. In 1983, Lancia Rally 037 driven by Walter Rohrl won the WRC, the last time for a rear-wheel-drive car to win the World Rally Championship.
Opel Manta B 400 Rothma
Opel Manta B 400 was already outdated when it was introduced as a GM's effort in Group B World Rally Championship events. In 1984, Tony Fall, Opel Motorsport Manager at the time asked for the development of a prototype that led to the development of Kadett D 400.
Opel Kadett D 400
Opel Kadett D 400
The project was based on a road-going Opel Kadett D GTE. The track was widened to make it more stable with improved traction. The widened track and widened body panels to accommodate the changes turned the Kadett D GTE to look more aggressive and serious. The front-wheel-drive layout was changed into rear-wheel-drive.
The naturally aspirated 2.4-litre Cosworth B 400 engine was positioned 50mm further to the rear of the front axle, resulting in better weight distribution and rear-wheel traction. Further modifications made the engine deliver up to 220bhp.
All newly made side body panels were made out of advanced composite material to reduce weight. The windows were now replaced with polycarbonate panels. This brought the curb weight to 1000kg or slightly more. It is evident that if Opel decided to replace the steel door panels, front hood, and roof with composite panels, the weight will reduce further.
Once the prototypes were finished, the cars were sent to South Africa for extensive testing. The decision for choosing South Africa was due to the harsh Sub-Saharan landscapes as well as the lack of laws that would otherwise prosecute Opel for testing a prototype in open roads.
One of the prototypes caught fire during a test and was completely destroyed. A car was later built to replace the destroyed unit.
The other car was then entered in the South African Nissan International Rally. The Kadett D 400 driven by Tony Pond ran well and scored three best stage times out of nine and was forced to retire due to a mechanical failure.
Opel Kadett D 400
It is said that the prototypes were made by a German high-performance specialist group called "Matter". Only two working prototypes were made and both were different from each other with slightly different mechanical components, performance figures, and body panels. A spare body shell was also made.
World Rally Championship Rally Stages were dominated by the likes of Audi Quattro, and it was soon evident that they couldn't keep up with the competition without embracing all-wheel-drive technologies.
The Opel Manta B 400 was decommissioned due to its inability to keep up with all-wheel-drive rivals. Opel hired FF Developments to work on the four-wheel-drive prototypes of Opel Manta. But, these were also canceled due to various issues as higher research and development costs and the lack of a more capable turbocharged powertrain.
Soon, Opel Team Manager Tony Fall decided that he needed something more purebred than Kadett D 400 to win World Rally Championship.
As the road going Opel Kadett range was soon to be replaced with its next-generation, he pitched his idea of a new Kadett Group B car based on E generation.
This eventually led to the development of Opel Kadett E 4S, abandoning the Opel Kadett D 400 project completely. The remaining two prototypes were then sold to Malcolm Wilson, hoping to compete in the British RAC rally, only to find out that he cannot because the aluminium roll cages installed in the car were no longer accepted. He had the roll cages replaced with steel units and sold the cars.
One of the cars was converted into a circuit racer and ended up in the hands of multiple privateers and sports enthusiasts. Eventually, it was returned to an Irish buyer who retrofitted it back to its rally specs. The engine was replaced with a modern 2.0-liter Ford Pinto engine.
Murray Grierson, a privateer purchased the other car and went on to race in rally stages from 1986 to 1989 in UK and Scotland. He finished with podiums often. In 1987, Murray Grierson and his co-driver Roger Anderson won the 1987 Scottish Rally Championship and came runner up in the 1988 British National Rally Series followed by a third place in 1989. He then gave his car for an MG Metro Clubman 300.
Opel Kadett E 4S aka. Vauxhall Astra 4S
Vauxhall Astra 4S
Production Opel Kadett E generation was also a front-wheel-drive car just like the previous D generation. Opel Kadett was also branded as Vauxhall Astra in British and several key right-hand-drive markets.
Since the Opel Kadett E 4S was supposed to be a four-wheel-drive rally-bred monster, it shared only little with its road-going variant. Following the footsteps of other Group B rally cars, only the cabin section of the original monocoque structure was kept. A tubular space frame chassis was then attached to it to house the engine and other mechanical components such as the suspension. The roof panel was steel along with the monocoque structure in the middle, and the rest of the body panels were made with lightweight carbon and kevlar composites.
The engine position remained in the front but it was moved back towards the driver slightly to improve weight distribution and rear traction. The chassis was also converted to adapt the four-wheel-drive system.
Opel Kadett E 4S moniker stood for Opel Kadett E-generation four-wheel-drive supercharged.
Newly appointed Opel team manager Karl Heinz Goldstein chose to use Xtrac system developed by Mike Endean and Martin Schanche as it was designed in a way to provide any front-engine car to be converted into four-wheel-drive.
The Xtrac was originally developed for RallyCross events and soon it was evident that it could be used for rallying as well.
Karl Heinz Goldstein wanted the car to weigh less than 1000kg in dry status and it is said that an even lighter prototype was also at work with a 850kg curb weight as its goal.
At the beginning of the project, it was decided to power the car with an already proven Cosworth engine derived from Opel Manta B 400, but with its 220bhp maximum output, it was considered obsolete. So, they worked on the engine at first with a supercharger unit but the output was still limited to 325bhp. Engineers then decided to turbocharge the powerplant and gained 400bhp maximum output, but the reliability issues such as busting head gaskets made the car heavily unreliable.
Opel Kadett E 4S
In 1985, the Opel Team was seriously in need of a decent enough rally racer and the engineers were forced to work full-time on the project to make it happen a reality before the next season. Engineers then used an outsourced Zakspeed to get their hands on a 1860cc turbocharged Ford engine delivering 500bhp. Since the Ford engine was already proven and the Xtrac system equipped Ford Escort MKII performed remarkably, Opel Team decided to keep the Ford engine equipped in the car.
However, the press found out that the new Opel Kadett E 4S is equipped with a Ford engine, and this humiliated GM in both international and home markets. Opel officially acknowledges it and pointed out that it was just a concept car at the time.
Disc brakes with brake servo and adjustable ratio split front to rear were also equipped to improve braking and overall handling.
Four Opel Kadett E 4S prototypes were made in 1985 and all were equipped with the Xtrac four-wheel-drive system. Two of the prototypes were then tested in the 1986 Dakar Rally with no success. Another was tested under the prototype class in one of the events of the 1986 British Rally Championship.
Karl Heinz was pleased with the handling of the car and often praised it for handling better in varying rally conditions, but within a couple of months after Opel's Dakar efforts, FIA announced its decision to ban Group B rallying.
Opel management then decided to equip the car with the supercharged Cosworth engine derived from Opel Manta B 400 as the Group S regulated maximum power output to 300bhp. However, Group S didn't allow forced induction engines. Opel now had to use an unreliable phase three engine with twin Weber DCOE 50 carburetors. This engine made a decent 275bhp, but this engine proved to be unreliable.
Within months after the FIA announced the ban of Group B events, Group S also followed the same fate, forcing Opel to abandon the project.
Tony Fall the head of the racing division at Opel stepped down from his position and left Germany for new opportunities as the direct blame was often pointed at him for failing to achieve any success in FIA WRC events.
Peugeot 405 T16
Peugeot 205 T16 E3
Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2
Peugeot Talbot Sport division (PTS) initially decided to further develop the Peugeot 205 T16, its third evolution as their Group S replacement. The Peugeot 205 T16 E3 car was supposed to have an all-new transmission unit and a reworked engine. The new transmission was supposed to be equipped with an adjustable centre differential to make it possible to balance front and rear torque distribution on the way using driver controls. This new system was known as Group S transmission within Peugeot. It was considered a safety feature as it helped to properly balance the car.
The car was supposed to receive further aerodynamic tweaks to make it even more aerodynamically efficient.
All these changes would make it acceptable to compete in newly proposed Group S rally events. The 100-inch wheelbase of the car was to be lengthened further to improve stability, but since the wheelbase was limited by the exterior design of the car.
Jean Todt, Peugeot team manager at the time always thought that the defeat they suffered at Pikes Peak even though they had three Peugeot 205 T16 PP cars with proposed E3 features at their disposal was largely due to the wheelbase issue. This event was won by Audi.
In late 1986, Peugeot started working on a special variant of the Peugeot 205 T15 "Grand Raid" car made for the Paris-Dakar Rally. The chassis of the car was reinforced and elongated by 12 inches in the front between the engine compartment and the driver.
Peugeot 205 T16 Evo 2
This longer wheelbase allowed the car to perform better with a much more stable driving experience. However, the weird body proportions soon convinced Peugeot engineers to look elsewhere.
Peugeot 405 was planned to be unveiled for the 1987 model year and since it had a longer wheelbase than the Peugeot 205, it was chosen as the next testbed for Peugeot's World Rally Championship efforts.
Peugeot 405 Turbo 16
Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak
Peugeot 405 was unveiled as the replacement for the outgoing Peugeot 505 for the 1987 model year, and it was well designed since it had to live up to the expectations of the successful Peugeot 505. Peugeot 405 also succeeded Peugeot 305.
Peugeot 405 was chosen as the testbed for their new rally car as it could market the roadgoing car with a special competition trim like they did with Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 and road-going Peugeot 205. The longer wheelbase also allowed the engineers what they were seeking.
Peugeot Talbot Sport team engineers quickly installed the drivetrain and chassis of the Peugeot 205 T16 for the new Peugeot 406 model. The new car received an elongated 113.7-inch chassis derived from the Peugeot 205 to fit with the required body dimensions. This longer chassis also allowed the engineers to fit a larger fuel tank specially developed for the "Grand Raid" endurance racing version.
Peugeot 405 Turbo 16 had a curb weight of 880kg.
Since the Peugeot 405 was only available in a four-door sedan format, it was adapted to a two-door coupe body format to allow better aerodynamic efficiency achieving lower drag efficiency than the outgoing Peugeot 205 T16.
The large rear wing, side skirts, rear diffuser, and large air dam in the front made the car look more mature and purpose-built than the production car yet retaining the graceful looks of a typical French-made car.
The Peugeot 205 T16 derived engine was further reworked as it wasn't restricted by the Group B regulations any more. The engine displacement was increased up to 1900cc and received cutting edge engine management systems such as a dual variable valve timing and a variable geometry turbocharger unit. All these were proposed changes for the Peugeot 205 T16 E3 project which was abandoned in favour of the Peugeot 405 based car.
A sequential transmission unit was also considered for the car and after some testing, it was decided to use a more practical and simple to maintain transmission unit with an all-new driver-controllable centre differential system known as Group S transmission.
With FISA deciding to cancel Group S, Peugeot like many other automotive manufacturer's tried to overturn the decision. This eventually resulted in a lawsuit taken by Peugeot against FIA.
However, despite this massive setback, Peugeot management continued the development of Peugeot 405 T16 to compete in other related rally venues such as Pikes Peak Hill Climb.
Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak
Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak
Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak P
Peugeot 405 T16 received special aerodynamic package and various modifications to compete in the 1988 Pikes Peak Hill Climb event, and now it was known as Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak.
Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak car was then handed over to Peugeot team driver Ari Vatanen, who went on to smash the previous record set by Walter Rohrl by a tenth of a second. This record couldn't be surpassed until 1994.
Peugeot won the event again in 1989 with Robby Unser as their driver.
Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid
Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid
Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid variant was developed to take part in Rally Raid events. The Peugeot 405 T16 received a long and reinforced suspension with a lift kit and a much larger fuel tank specifically designed for the Dakar rally.
The Peugeot 405 Grand Raid debuted at the Paris-Dakar rally in 1988. Ari Vatanen was the winner of the previous years and was confident that he would be able to defend his title. Soon, he was in the lead of the rally when he reached Bamako to get ready for the 14th stage of the event.
Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid interior
However the car belongs to Peugeot team leader Ari Vatanen had been stolen in Bamako, the capital city of Mali, and those who stole it asked for a ransom of 25 million francs in return. Eventually, the car was found but it was already too late as Ari Vatanen has already being excluded from the event for not arriving at the start within thirty minutes of departure time. His teammate Juha Kankkunen won the event that year in the hands of a Peugeot 205 T16.
Ari Vatanen would have his revenge in the wheels of a Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid to win the 1989 and 1990 Paris to Dakar rally.
Peugeot 405 T16 Grand Raid
Peugeot Talbot Sport decided to decommission the older Peugeot 205 T16 and Peugeot 405 T16 from competition to focus on the development of the Peugeot 905 concept to compete in World Sportcar Championship.
Citroen, the sister company of Peugeot then used the basis of Peugeot 405 T16 to develop their ZX Grand Raid car that went on to win Paris to Dakar rally four times from 1991 through 1997. Citroen ZX Grand Raid was retired in 1997.
1984 Peugeot Quasar
1984 Peugeot Quasar Concept
1984 Peugeot Quasar Concept
Peugeot unveiled a new supercar concept called Quasar. This car was also powered by Peugeot 205 T16 powertrain and featured many advanced techs for its time.
Toyota MR2 222D Group S
Toyota entered Group B World Rally Championship events in 1983 with the Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo. This rear-wheel-drive car was conceptualized and developed with Group four rallying in mind before the introduction of Group B in 1982.
Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo was equipped with a 2090cc 4T-GTE engine mated to a turbocharger, delivering up to 380bhp maximum. The engine was often kept in a detuned state for improved reliability, delivering 330bhp maximum at such times.
Since the car was rear-wheel-drive, its competition potential against four-wheel-driver Audi Quattro and Peugeot 205 T16 was limited while driving on loose surfaces. It was also outperformed by the likes of Lancia Rally 037, a rear-mid-engine car with smaller dimensions, better agility, and more power at its disposal.
Despite its shortcomings, Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo turned out to be a reliable and rugged car that kept winning endurance racing events when other Group B rally monsters failed due to mechanical issues. Bjorn Waldegard, Juha Kankkunen, and Per Eklund drove Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo cars to achieve three Rallye Cote d'Ivoire wins and three Safari Rally event wins from 1983 through 1986.
Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo was soon nicknamed the king of Africa due to its reliability and ruggedness. Toyota engineers kept the car competing on Group B endurance racing events for four years consecutively without any evolution of the car, with the only significant update being receiving better brakes.
In 1986, Juha Kankkunen was later hired as a Peugeot team racing driver to drive their Peugeot 205 T16. His performance secured Peugeot the Manufacturer's title, and him the driver's title.
Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo is often consideredthe second most successful rear-wheel-drive Group B rally racer after the infamous Lancia Rallye 037.
Toyota MR2 222D
With the proposed Group S for the 1987 racing season onwards, Toyota planned to replace the Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo with their Toyota MR2 Group S rally car.
The road-going Toyota MR2 is a rear-mid-engine car with a compact and lightweight body. This is why it was used to replace the aging Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo. In terms of the mechanical layout, the Toyota MR2 Groupe S was similar to the Peugeot 205 T16 and Lancia Delta S4.
Just like most of the other Group B rally monsters, the Toyota MR2 Group S also shared very little with the road-going car other than its overall body shape.
The track was widened to accommodate wider tyres to improve stability and traction.
Bodywork of Toyota MR2 Group S was done using composite materials and features a rear clamshell to allow quick access to the mechanical components inside.
The stock pop-up style headlights were replaced with fixed units covered with Perspex covers to improve aerodynamics. Fixed headlights are also more reliable and easier to replace.
The prototypes were finished in semi-matt black paint to highlight the bodylines of the car, giving it a more aggressive and muscular look. Soon, the car earned the "Black Beast", and "Black Widow" monikers.
At first, the car was equipped with a 2090cc 4T-GTE engine derived from Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo. This engine allowed the engineers to carry out tests regarding handling and acceleration, but they always wanted a better engine for their Group S rally monster.
Toyota MR2 222D
It is said that Toyota entertained the idea of equipping the car with a twin-cam 2.8-litre V6 engine with electronic engine management derived from a Celica Supra, delivering over 600bhp after being completely reworked and twin-turbocharged. They actually tested the car with the engine at one point but abandoned the idea due to technical issues.
Then they equipped the car with a turbocharged inline-four 2140cc 3S-GT engine derived from the Toyota LeMans Group C prototype. The reworked engine delivered 750bhp maximum.
This same engine was also used laterwards to power the A90 Supra sports cars to compete in the Japanese Grand Touring Championship.
The same engine was also used to power the Toyota Celica driven by Rod Millen in 1994, to break the record set by Ari Vatanen in the wheels of a Peugeot 405 T16 at the 1988 Pikes Peak Hill Climb Challenge. It is said that this engine delivered over 800bhp.
Two drivetrain platforms were created for testing purposes; one with rear-wheel-drive to compete in track racing events, and the other featuring famous Xtrac four-wheel-drive to compete in FIA Group S rally events, and rallycross events.
The curb weight of the car is rumoured to be around 750kg, which in theory provides a weight-to-power ratio of one kilogram per one horsepower.
In the fall of 1985, the Toyota MR2 222D Group S prototype was tested in RAC Rally stages such as Twiglees, and Eskdalemuir Forrest stage. All the test drives were carried out by Toyota Team Europe head Ove Andersson, and Toyota team driver Bjorn Waldegard.
Ove "the pope" Andersson was a rally driver and the first-ever head of Toyota's Formula One program. He began rallying as a factory-supported driver in the 1963 Swedish Rally in the wheels of a Mini Cooper. Impressed by his driving skill, Mini Sports team boss Stuart Turner gave him a Mini Cooper S for the RAC Rally.
In 1964, he was hired by Saab to become one of their permanent team drivers, but left in 1965 to drive for Lancia for the first three rounds of the championship and finished third in all of them. In 1965, he won the Swedish Rally Championship in a Lotus Cortina. In 1967 and 1968, he won the Monte Carlo Rally with Lancia. He also competed in Daytona 24 Hours with Lancia in 1968.
In the wheels of an Alpine A110, he won the 1971 Monte Carlo Rally, Rallye Sanremo, Alpenfahrt rally, and Acropolis rally. These wins secured the manufacturer's title for Alpine that year. In 1972, he finished second at the Monte Carlo rally.
In 1973, he joined Toyota to compete in World Rally Championship rally events. He drove a Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo mostly and achieved seven podium finishes in his 28 outings. He won the 1975 Safari Rally in a Peugeot 504.
His loyalty to Toyota grew even stronger when he started running his own rally team in the early 1970s, based in Uppsala. His Andersson Motorsport became Toyota Team Europe in 1979 and moved to Cologne, Germany in an attempt to get a piece of the FIA World Rally Championship events. In 1993, Toyota Team Europe was purchased by Toyota and was renamed Toyota Motorsport GmbH. In 2001 he became the first-ever Formula One Team Manager of Toyota and oversaw the creation of its first car, a prototype called Toyota TF101. In 2002, he stepped down from his position and remained as a consultant until his death in June 2008.
Despite his achievements and victories in rally stages, he mentioned that the car was hard to control as it can switch from understeer to oversteer, and oversteer to understeer at any given time due to the mid-engine position, and short-wheel-base that resulted in instability of the ride.
In 1986, FIA revised Group S regulations for the 1987 season, and now the car has to weigh at least 1000kg when fully race-ready. The engine displacement and power output regulations also meant that the Toyota engineers couldn't use the engine that they were planning to use, therefore had to go back to the drawing board. FIA suddenly decided to cancel Group S events indefinitely and not much is known about the Toyota MR2 222D Group S project afterward.
Toyota MR2 222D
Less than a dozen prototypes and test mules with several engine configurations and several drivetrains were made. Many were apparently crashed or either destroyed while testing through rally stages and military-proven ground. Three prototypes still exit and one of the cars are showcased in the Toyota Team Europe headquarters in Cologne, Germany. Another is in Toyota's Tokyo headquarters. Another was sold to a private collector.
Toyota decided to focus on Group A rally events since the demise of Group B and Group S rally events. They came up with the brilliant Toyota Celica GT-Four which was developed alongside the Toyota MR2 222D Group S project. Both cars feature some key mechanical components such as the Xtrac four-wheel-drive system.
A Toyota MR2 222D Group S prototype made a sudden appearance at the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed. This car is rumoured to be the one on display at the Toyota Team Europe headquarters and that it is the very car to have been tested by Ove Andersson.
These prototypes make a sudden appearance in classic rally events across Europe from time to time.
Lada S Proto
Lada Turbo or Lada Samara Turbo
The Lada Samara Turbo was originally known as Lada Turbo. It is loosely based on the Lada Samara Group B built for the Soyuz rally. It is said that the car was actually built by a group of engineers in a top-secret automotive research facility belonging to a truck and bus factory in Estonia around 1984.
The Lada Turbo is actually a silhouette racer. Instead of the body shape, front headlights, and bare minimum mechanical components, it had less to none in common with the road-going Lada Samara. It featured a tubular spaceframe chassis construction and body panels made out of lightweight composites. The front and rear opening clamshells allowed easier access to the mechanical components of the car.
The engine was based on the mechanical components of a stock engine from a Lada 2106 and was completely redesigned and re-engineered. The result was a 1860cc dual overhead cam turbocharged intercooled electronically fuel-injected inline-four engine which is capable of delivering 300bhp maximum. The engine was longitudinally mounted in the middle for the best weight distribution possible.
To improve the aerodynamics, air extractors were moulded in all four fenders of the car. A twin rear spoiler system was used to improve downforce at higher speeds.
Lada EVA Interior
The Soviet government provided funding for the development and production of the required 200 units to comply with FIA Group B homologation requirements. They also agreed to provide funds for a racing program within the Lada Rally team.
The development of the car was further continued in the hands of the Lithuanian rally driver Stasys Brundza and VFTS under his leadership. VFTS or Vilniusskaya Fabrika Transportnyh Stredstv was founded and managed by Stasys Brundza. It was decided to code name the project as Experimental Vilnius Auto-plant or EVA.
The exact amount of EVA cars built is not clear, with estimations running from twenty to thirty units, including several entry-level homologation cars equipped with naturally aspirated 160bhp engines to cut down the costs.
With the cancellation of FIA Group B World Rally events, the production of the EVA was completely aborted.
Lada S Proto
In 1985, FIA announced its plans for a possible replacement rally class to Group B. The new Group S required the manufacturer to build and sell at least ten examples to comply with homologation requirements. Group S was in other words a prototype class for rallying.
Group S was supposed to become the dominant category from the 1988 rally season as the replacement for the heavily revised Group B events in the 1987 season.
Lada now along with other automotive manufacturers who were already developing new prototypes of their next Group B rally monsters, decided to reuse their Group B lessons for the development of the new Group S prototypes to cut down the costs related to research and development.
Soon, further development of the EVA was continued now under the code name "S Proto". The maximum power output was now 350bhp due to the enlarged 2604cc engine, The car also featured minor aerodynamic tweaks. Only one prototype was made. With the cancellation of both Group B and Group S rallying in 1986, the S Proto was also shelved.
It is said that if the car was proven to be a success at the World Rally Championship events, further development was to be continued with the technical guidance of Porsche engineers alongside the Porsche 959 drivetrains to power the car.
The rumour proved to be a truth with the introduction of the 1991 Lada Samara T3 Paris-Dakar Special. This car finished seventh in the Dakar Rally in the hands of Jacky Ickx.
Mazda RX7S Group S
Mazda RX7S Group S
Mazda Rally Team Europe in an attempt to compete in Group S World Rally Championship events came up with a prototype in 1986. This prototype was built in Belgium and featured a space-frame tubular chassis construction with a more aerodynamically efficient body based on the basic shape of Mazda RX7 (FC35).
A Mazdaspeed 757 24 Hours of Le Mans car-derived three-rotor 14G naturally aspirated Wankle rotary engine was used to power the Mazda RX7S. The maximum power output was measured at 450bhp. The engine displacement of this 13B G3 Wankle engine was measured at 1962cc.
This engine was small in dimensions, allowing MRTE engineers the ability to install it in the front-mid position behind the front axle for improved weight distribution. A five-speed transmission unit was specifically built by Ferguson Formula Developments (FFD) for Mazda RX7S.
Lubrication was provided with a dry sump with a rear-mounted reserve and a roof-mounted cooler.
Mazda RX7S Group S
Mazda RX7S Group S
Mazda previously raced a Mazda RX7 Group B car with limited success and it won only once in a rally stage, a 3rd at the 1985 Acropolis Rally Stage. The Group B Mazda RX7 was equipped with a 13B RESI two rotors Wankle engine. This was a rear-wheel-drive car.
The front mid-engine position provided more predictable steering than most drivers preferred as it was easier to get used to under varying conditions of the rally stages. The Group S RX7 is also a four-wheel-drive car with four-wheel-steering. It also had locking and gear ration altering ability as well.
The rear and front suspension featured double wishbones, dual shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar.
Vented disk brakes with brake servo were added all around.
Two side air inlets were used to cool the twin intercooler units and the roof-mounted air scoop tunneled air to a larger engine oil cooler. The radiator is in the front of the car and the air that comes from the small hood scoop also improves the engine cooling efficiency.
The maximum power output was measured at 450hp at 8500rpm and the maximum torque figure is 289 lb-ft at 8000rpm.
The dry curb weight is rumoured to be 950 or 960kg. The weight distribution was 50:50 according to Mazda enthusiasts. The weight to power ratio was rated at 2.1kg per one horsepower.
The exact number of prototypes built is unknown and it is rumoured to be two.
SEAT Ibiza Bimotor Group
SEAT Ibiza bimotor
SEAT is a Spanish automotive manufacturer and they were once partners with FIAT on developing and selling their cars, but in the late 1970s with FIAT management's decision not to provide further funds for the development of new models there was a break p of their corporation which escalated into a full-scale legal war for independence from FIAT group. After winning the dispute in their favour in 1983, SEAT was now in a position to make their appearance in the WRC Group B rally stages.
Since SEAT had a little budget for research and development mainly due to the economical and political instability in Spain at the time, it was an impossibility to develop four-wheel-drive transmission units or powerful turbocharged engines.
Two Spanish brothers called the Servias decided to race as privateers. Since they wanted to represent their country, they settled on SEAT. Their solution to the problems faced by SEAT was cheaper.
Use two engines instead of one. Hence the Bimotor idea came to life.
The Servias brothers then presented their Bimotor idea to SEAT Sport which gave the idea instant approval and began to work on a new prototype. Spanish National Rally Circuit was used by SEAT to test their new prototypes and test mules as it allowed cars to compete without homologation requirements.
The road-going SEAT Ibiza is a front-wheel-drive supermini intended for busy European capitals with narrow streets and limited access to parking. It was first unveiled at Paris Auto Show in 1984. The engine and drivetrain of the car were developed in collaboration with Porsche. If SEAT wanted, they could have use the System Porsche brand name after paying royalties. Italdesign came with the design and the car itself was made by Karmann.
All these major-league companies coming up with a new car took the attention of the public and resulted in a massive surge of sales. This is the main reason to choose the car as the testbed for the Bimotor prototype.
SEAT Ibiza bimotor
Servias brothers took two SEAT Ibeza cars and cut the chassis in half. The front halves of the chassis of both cars were then joined together. So, there were two engines, two transmission units, and two front suspension setups.
The engines used in the car were identical 1460cc System Porsche engines delivering 125bhp each for a combined 250bhp. The engine displacement was advertised as 2922cc combined, allowing the car to compete in a favourable class in case of revised regulations.
The engines were reworked again and now the power output maxed at 150bhp per each for a combined 300bhp.
It was somewhat difficult to synchronize both engines to run together. The main problem was the RPM rates and their difference from one another. The only way to achieve perfect power distribution was by retuning or detuning the front or the rear engine.
The other problem was to find a way to synchronize the front and rear transmission linkage to work in harmony.
A radiator was installed in front of the rear engine in between the bulkhead and it was fed air by two air ducts mounted in the side rear windows.
Most of the steel body panels of the road-going SEAT Ibiza were retained to save costs, except for the fibreglass front hood lid, rear hatch, and side panels that were widened to house the widened track of the car to improve stability and traction.
The curb weight of the car was measured at 1000kg.
SEAT Ibiza Bimotor
Joseph Maria Servia tested the SEAT Ibiza Bimotor prototype from 1986 to 1988 in the Spanish Gravel Championship with other banned Group B cars now competing as prototypes.
During these three years, Joseph Maria Servia won four class victories and seven other podium finishes. He also became the runner-up in the Spanish Gravel Championship in 1986 and 1987.
Alex Brustenga also finished with podium wins in the 1986 season. He was then replaced with Antonio Rius who went on to score three podium finishes in the season, winning the second overall in 1987 Rally Avila alongside winner Servia.
It is also said that the SEAT Ibiza Bimotor was not intended for Group B rally events but to compete in Spanish Gravel Championship as a research and development case study. It was also possible that the car was developed to compete in proposed Group S rally events from 1987, but those ambitions weren't fruitful with the cancellation of Group S just months after the cancellation of Group B rally events.
SEAT decided to focus on its Marbella Proto, a front-wheel-drive race car, and in Rally Raid endurance racing events. The SEAT Ibiza Bimoto project was hence shelved and didn't appear until the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed Hill Climb.
Just like SEAT did with its SEAT Ibiza Bimotor, Citroen(2CV Sahara), Saab (Saab 93 Monstret), Alfa Romeo (Alfa Romeo Bimotor), Volkswagen (Golf rally car), Maserati, Abarth, and Mini (Mini Twini) were playing with the possibility of installing two cars in a car. Conceptually it works for a racing car as the cost of maintenance or impracticality is not an issue for a thoroughbred race car, but for a road-going car, this concept was impractical.
Twin engines occupies the space left for cargo and rear passenger compartment and the complexity of the mechanical components can make the car unreliable and costly to maintain as there are twice the components that could go wrong.
Skoda Metalex 160 Group B aka. Skoda MTX 160 RS
Skoda MTX 160 RS
Skoda is a Czechoslovakian automotive manufacturer. In 1983, they were in desperate need to replace their outdated Skoda 130 RS rally car since it would no longer be allowed to compete in FIA World Rally Championship Group B events from 1982 due to the updated regulations.
Skoda with a lower racing budget slowly began to develop a new car as a case study. This new car was called Skoda 130 LR.
Skoda 130 LR
Skoda 130 LR
Skoda originally planned to wait until their front-engine front-wheel-drive Favorit platform to arrive, but due to numerous technical and financial difficulties, its development slowed down considerably.
As the engineers were also working on updating their rear-engine Skoda model line-up, the Favorit platform was further delayed.
The replacement car for the aging Skoda 130 RS first began utilizing 120 platform. Soon, the 120 platforms received prototype mechanical components from the new 130 variants. Skoda primarily focused on making a bigger displacement engine to use in competition.
Skoda engineers gave the car twin Weber carburetors, a larger diameter intake manifold, a reworked engine head, a dry-sump lubrication system for the engine, and a Lobro crankshaft.
The maximum power output was rated at 130 to 135hp at 7500rpm and maximum torque of 115 lb-ft at 6000rpm.
The car was equipped with an aluminium fuel tank with capacity enough to hold 45-litres of fuel, reinforced suspension arms, hydraulic parking brake, reinforced axle shafts, and rear disc brakes.
To make it lightweight, the body panels were replaced with aluminium ones and the side windows with polycarbonate side screens. To improve downforce, a large plastic rear spoiler was also added.
Skoda 130 LR
Skoda 130 LR was an evolution of the road-going Skoda 130 base trim and it received FIA Group B homologation approval in January, 1985.
The rear-engine car with sportier handling soon proved itself as a thoroughbred sports car despite its lower power output, mainly due to its feather-light construction and proven reliability.
Skoda 130 LR won its first victory at the 1985 Acropolis Rally event where Ladislav Krecek drove the car to win its class with 13th overall place. He again drove the car in 1986 to win the 12 overall at the same event. In the fall of 1986, he drove the car to win the overall sixth position at the Sanremo rally. Svatopluk Kvaizer also finished the race with a podium win.
It also won the 1985 Czech Rally Championship with Svatopluk Kvaizer assuming driving duties. It also won the second overall at the 1986 and 1988 Czech Rally Championship. It also won first place in the PMP cup three times in 1985, 1987, and 1988.
Group B ban didn't affect its racing career as it competed under B/9 and B/10 class which were not affected, however, its outdated performance figures made it less capable against the competition. Soon it was decided to update the car to receive evolution status.
Skoda MTX 160 RS Group B Prototype
Skoda MTX 160 RS Group B Prototype
Metalex was founded in 1969 in Prague and at first, it served as an automotive repair shop for Skoda race cars and rally cars. It soon expanded into the production of their own Formula Easter cars for the Formula Easter events in the Soviet Union.
Upon hearing that Skoda is struggling with the development of a new Group B rally car, Metalex management came up with a brilliant idea, to come up with a solution on their own.
Within a fortnight the initial concept was conceived by the head of MTX race car designing, Vaclav Kral. It was decided to use the Skoda Grade model as the basis for the new car. Fabrication of the car was then led by a team of engineers under the command of chief engineer Vaclav Pauer.
Engineers decided to use VAZ 1568cc engines that were developed for the Lada 1600 Rally racer and Lada 2105 VFTS. Since it was a proven engine and reliable with lower maintenance costs, it was widely used by MTX to power various Lada 2105 race cars.
VAZ 1568cc engine was naturally aspirated and twin carburetted. The engine was reworked slightly to further improve the efficiency and power output. When using 100 octane fuel, the maximum power output was measured at 160bhp. The initial plan was to turbocharge the engine, but since the company failed to secure the required permit to get them, it was decided to use old-school tactics.
A tubular rear sub-frame was specifically made and attached to the chassis of the car to house the VAZ engine in a longitudinal position in the rear. This also allowed the rear axle to be moved 100mm backward and thereby bring the engine and its weight slightly forward, thus improving weight distribution and centre of gravity.
The engine power output was then transferred to the rear wheels through a VAZ single clutch, a four-speed gearbox derived from the Skoda 130 RS. A better-performing five-speed Tatra unit was also considered as a possibility.
The chassis of the car received an integrated roll cage and reinforced cross-sections to improve the safety aspects and structural rigidity of the car.
The front axle and suspension were derived from Skoda 130 RS. The rear suspension and axle were completely custom-made in-house by the MTX engineers.
Initially, it was planned to use an MTX quick rack developed for Formula Easter cars, but they settled on the Skoda rack and pinion steering system.
The car also received brakes derived from the Skoda 130 RS along with new adjustable disc brakes.
The widened track of the car required widened wheel arches. MTX made fibreglass fender flares to allow more track width. These were then joined with a custom-built air dam in the front and side skirts to improve ground effects.
The boot lid was remade in fibreglass and received modifications to incorporate a large ducktail style spoiler and NACA ducts to provide air through the intakes to the oil cooler. The hood lid was also replaced with a fibreglass unit. It featured moulded air vents to improve radiator cooling and a side hinge system to provide easier access to the mechanical components.
The overall curb weight was measured at less than 1000kg.
Three prototypes were made by MTX.
Skoda MTX 160 RS project started without the knowledge or approval of Skoda or the Czech government, a breach of protocol. The Czech government and Skoda both were surprised when the car suddenly made an appearance in front of the Army headquarters in Prague where many important leaders of the Czech Communist Party were congregating.
Everyone were surprised when the leaders were presented the car as a gift to the Communist regime. They were pleased with the performance figures of the car and allowed approval to be tested alongside Skoda 130 LR prototype. Both cars competed in the Rallye Valasska Zima in January 1984.
It is rumoured that MTX 160 RS was nicknamed as "Bastard" by the state officials after its unceremonious presentation and mainly due to the use of a LADA sourced engine and several mechanical components from the Skoda model lineup. To this day, this car is mostly known as the bastard.
MTX 160 RS driven by Vaclav Blahn and Pavel Schovanek soon led the rally before rolling over in a ditch on stage 11, but soon get back to the race and finished the rally with a one and a half minute lead. It was tested again at the Rallye Sumava in March and at the Rallye Sklo Union Teplice in the fall of April.
It was supposed to make an appearance at the Barum Rallye in June, but its main sponsor Agroteam was dissolved within weeks of the event, so the car was entered without a sponsor and only as a course opening demonstration vehicle.
Skoda 130 LR prototype was chosen over MTX 160 RS due to cost-effective reasons. It only required to manufacture 20 Skoda 130 LR Evolution cars to comply with Group B homologation requirements. MTX 160 with its foreign-sourced Lada engine, required Skoda to produce and sell at least 200 units.
Since MTX couldn't fund the project all by themselves, nor they could secure official state funding or a sponsor, it was decided to abandon the project.
Skoda 130 LR/B Evo
Skoda 130 LR/B Evo
In 1985, Skoda began the development of a special competition car with plans for FIA World Rally Championship Group S events. Since it required just ten cars to qualify for homologation requirements, the cars were to receive turbochargers and four-wheel-drive components. Since MTX 160 was costly to build and lack of turbochargers in the Czech, Skoda decided to build an evolution variant of their proven Skoda 130 LR Group B rally car.
In May 1986, with FIA deciding to ban Group B rally events, the Evo project suddenly came to a halt. However, the project resumed following the rumours that FIA is considering a revival of Group S events.
Skoda 130 LR/B Evo received wider body package to house the increased width of the track, to improve stability and traction of the car.
Side air intakes were installed on the enlarged rear quarter panels following the tradition set by Skoda 130 RS variants. This setup improved the efficiency of rear brake cooling and engine bay venting.
A duct tail style lip spoiler was incorporated to the boot lid to improve downforce. The hood lid was modified to house air extractors to vent air from the radiator in front of the engine. The weight distribution was 40 in the front: 60 in the rear.
The Skoda 130 LR derived engine was enlarged and now its displacement was measured at 1300cc, the maximum capacity allowed for the B/9 category. The power output was maxed at 130 to 140bhp.
The car also came with adjustable spring suspension and gear ratios. The lightweight construction kept the curb weight at 850kg when the car is rally ready.
Skoda 130 LR/B Evo made an appearance at the 1986 Rallye Bohemia for its first test drive in the hands of Shekhar Mehta and his wife Yvonne as his navigator.
The project was canceled with the canceled Group S wasn't revived by FIA.
Skoda 130 LR/B Evo
In 1988, the Skoda 130 LR/B Evo was sold to Vaclav Farka, a rallycross racer. He went on to drive the car for four years in the European and Czech rallycross events with occasional factory support in the form of free spare parts. He retired from racing in 1991.
It was then purchased by the Krajcovicovci brothers to compete in rallycross events, without knowing that they were purchasing a one-off prototype car. They restored the car upon finding its true origin and restored it to its original state after two years of intense commitment.
It was then entered in the 1994 International Rallye Matador Zilini. Krajcovicovci brothers drove the car to finish with fourth overall and as the first of its class. Since the car lacked proper homologation approval, they were disqualified.
Krajcovicovci brothers then tried to offer the car as a loan to be showcased in the Skoda museum, but the political disputes between Slovakia and Czech made it an impossibility.
Skoda 130 LR/B Evo silently sat in their home garage until 2011 when the brothers took it out to compete in Rally Tribec.
It was eventually auctioned off for £500,000.
Mitsubishi Starion 4WD
Mitsubishi Starion 4WD Group B. Image credit: Creative Commons
The Mitsubishi Starion was manufactured by Mitsubishi from 1982 to 1989 and was marketed as Chrysler Conquest, Dodge Conquest, and Plymouth Conquest in North America.
The production Starion is considered as one of the earliest Japanese-made turbocharged performance cars with electronic fuel injection.
Mitsubishi Starion with its rear-wheel-drive layout was made with performance on the tarmac in mind, and it wasn't that good in off-road conditions. Despite this, it competed in Group A World Rally Championship and Asia Pacific Rally Championship during 1987 and 1988.
To compete in Group B events, the Mitsubishi Ralliart team in the United Kingdom developed an all-wheel-drive variant of the production Mitsubishi Starion. The project was completed under the close supervision of Andrew Cowan, the former senior director of Mitsubishi Ralliart. Former Audi technician Alan Wilkinson also contributed to the project as an advisor and supervisor.
Andrew Cowan won the 1962 Scottish Rally, 1968 and 1977 London-Sydney Marathons, 1972 to 1976 Southern Cross Rallies, and the 1977 Rally Bandama Côte d'Ivoire. He also became the second overall in the 1985 Paris-Dakar Rally.
It was initially to be equipped with the Sirius Dash engine that was unveiled at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show. Sirius Dash engine featured three-valves per cylinder head with two inlet valves per cylinder. One of the valves operated all the time and the other was activated through electronic control when the engine reached more than 2500rpm. Fuel injection was done with the use of a Bosch EFI computer.
Mitsubishi then settled on an intercooled Mitsubishi 2.0-liter fuel-injected engine with plans to improve it further. Eventually, the production 2.0-liter engine was reworked and enlarged now to feature a displacement of 2.1-liter. It was then turbocharged and intercooled. The maximum power output was measured at 350bhp.
Power was transferred via a twin-plate clutch five-speed gearbox derived from the production Starion, and then it was converted into all-wheel-drive by installing a reinforced transfer case and various components derived from the production Mitsubishi Pajero behind the transmission.
This setup allowed the engineers to move the engine further towards the driver to be situated well back in the chassis for improved weight distribution.
The torque split ratio was 50:50 in the front and rear permanently.
Mitsubishi Starion 4WD Group B. Image credit Mitsubishi Ralliart
To further improve its weight distribution, the Starion received a completely redesigned front fascia with reduced overhang by an impressive six inches. This redesigning allowed the Ralliart engineers to replace the stock radiator with a larger more efficient one. Pop-up headlights were replaced with a fixed quad-lamp system to improve aerodynamics. Some later versions received a dual-lamp system instead of the quad-lamp system.
This setup reduced the overall weight as well.
Kevlar reinforced carbon fibre was used for the driveshaft, sump guard, lower arms of the McPherson strut suspension. Fiberglass body panels such as the hood, tailgate, door panels, side fenders, bumpers, and the spoiler further kept the bodyweight down, and the Ralliart team managed to reduce the overall weight up to slightly over 1000kg.
It is said that Mitsubishi planned to introduce the car at the 1984 British Motor show and planned to build 200 roadgoing examples to qualify for the Group B events. However, none of those happened.
However, the Starion 4WD was used by the Ralliart team to compete in various non-Group B events.
Mitsubishi Starion 4WD competed in the 1984 Mille Pistes Rally in the hands of Lasse Lampi, the car finished first in its class and sixth overall.
Mitsubishi Starion 4WD wasn't homologated for Group B events due to safety-related issues until the cancellation of Group B events. The Group B Mitsubishi Starion 4WD project was terminated. The lessons learned and the o technologies developed for this car were adopted by the Mitsubishi and Ralliart engineers to develop their Group A Galant VR-4.
Galant VR-4 won Mitsubishi many Group A WRC victories: the 1989 Lombard RAC Rally in the hands of Penti Airikkala, 1989 1000 Lakes Rally in the hands of Mikael Ericsson, 1990 Rallye Côte d'Ivoire Bandama in the hands of Patrick Tauziac, 1991 International Swedish Rally in the hands of Kenneth Eriksson, 1991 and 1992 Rallye Côte d'Ivoire Bandama in the hands of Kenjiro Shinozuka.
It also won Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in the hands of Kenjiro Shinozuka and Ross Dunkerton.
It is clear as daylight that the development of Mitsubishi Starion 4WD and lessons learned didn't go to waste as the technologies were successfully implemented on the Galant VR-4.
Mitsubishi Starion 4WD Group B. Image credit: Creative Commons
Mitsubishi Starion 4WD made an appearance in the 1986 Hong Kong Beijing Rally and won second place. It also competed as a prototype in the 1987 Qatar Rally and won fourth place. It finished first in the 1987 Himalayan Rally, third in the 1987 Oman Rally, and the first in the 1988 British Open Rally Championship in the hands of Penti Airikkala and his co-driver Ronan McNamee.
Penit Airikkala driving Starion 4WD
Galant VR-4 and its success convinced Mitsubishi to develop the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo to compete in the World Rally Championship events and in the hands of Tommi Makinen, Lancer Evo won four consecutive World Rally Championships and also won the manufacturers title in 1998.