Top 10 Two-Wheel Drive Group B Cars

Toyota Celica 2000GT
Toyota Celica 2000GT

Although I used multiple sources for information for this post, much of the data was gathered from the Group B rally shrine. For more information on the cars listed below and even more follow the link provided above.

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Group B rally is known for ridiculously overpowered, underweight, four wheel drive death machines. That is one of the best parts of Group B. The completely unregulated rule set made innovation seem like a regular occurrence........which it was. Although Group B is well known as the birthplace of four wheel drive in motorsports (which actually took place at the end of Group 4, Group B’s precursor), many manufacturers were under the impression that four wheel drive was too complex and heavy to be used in rally in anything other than specific events (I’m looking at you, Sweden!). Some manufacturers recycled their Group 4 machines into Group B for some quick podiums, others brought out machines which would have otherwise never been seen on a rally stage (simply because they now could), and even fewer (at least at first) developed brand new vehicles specifically designed for rally. This list contains all three. I didn’t want to contain any Group 4 transfers, but it is almost impossible to make a list of two-wheel drive Group B cars based on success without having at least a few Group 4 transfer. There are some cars that would have probably made this list based upon their respective performance in lower classes of rallying or just cool factor but this list is based on number of overall WRC podiums achieved by two-wheel drive cars in the Group B era. The WRC podiums are from the 1982 season (the year Group B cars began appearing on WRC stages) through the 1986 season. I will score success based upon driver’s championship points as they are easier to follow; 1st = 20 points, 2nd = 15 points, and 3rd = 12 points. With that said, lets go back to the 1982 WRC season.

10. Mitsubishi Lancer 2000 EX Turbo

Mitsubishi Lancer 2000EX Turbo
Mitsubishi Lancer 2000EX Turbo
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Mitsubishi’s first and only entry into Group B was actually a Group 4 transfer with a Group 4 homologation date of 1 April 1981 and a Group B transfer homologation date of 1 January 1983. The Lancer Turbo also only achieved one podium and it was also in the Group 4/Group B crossover season of 1982 where the Lancer Turbo was technically still homologated into Group 4. The Lancer Turbo would have likely been a more successful rally car had 4wd vehicles not taken over. The Lancer Turbo was among the first turbocharged rally cars which gave it a significant performance advantage. The Lancer Turbo also possessed one of the earliest versions of Mitsubishi’s 4G63 engine. This version of the 4G63, however, was fitted with the Sirius Dash 3x2 head (SOHC 12V) and a turbocharger. This brought SOHC simplicity while having the higher rev range of multiple intake valves to the tune of 280 HP. While not as powerful as the later 4G63s found on the Lancer Evolution cars, it was a creative first effort. Mitsubishi continued development on the 4G63 and eventually developed a DOHC head for it. Given Mitsubishi’s technical prowess, the Lancer Turbo could have stood among the other two-wheel drive Japanese standouts had they not abandoned the concept to develop a four-wheel drive rally machine, the Mitsubishi Starion 4wd. It is noteworthy to mention that the Starion 4wd was one of the closest Group B prototypes to getting homologated before Group B was cancelled. The Lancer Turbo’s only podium was also in 1982 at the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland at the hand of Finnish rally driver Pentti Airikkala for Mitsubishi’s Andrew Cowan Motorsports. Andrew Cowan was a former rally driver for Mitsubishi and won the 1972 Southern Cross Rally. Andrew Cowan Motorsports would later get full manufacturer backing and become RalliArt Europe.

Podium(s):

  1. 3rd Pentti Airikkala 1982 1000 Lakes Rally (12 Points)

Total Points = 12

9. Mazda RX7

Mazda RX-7 FB
Mazda RX-7 FB
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The Mazda RX7 is the first car on this list that didn’t start out competing in Group 4. The Group B Mazda RX7 was based on a FB generation RX7. It was specifically modified to compete in Group B as an evolution version of the FB. The Mazda RX7 was homologated into Group B on 1 February 1984. By 1984 the writing was on the wall. Rally moving forward at the top level, would be dominated by four-wheel drive machines. Mazda, much like many other manufacturers during Group B, didn’t officially participate in rally and the RX7 was developed and ran by Mazda Rally Team Europe (albeit with some limited factory backing). The RX7 may not have had four wheel drive but it was incredibly lightweight and featured a high revving rotary engine (all hail Dorito Jesus!) which made it competitive on certain events. It’s noteworthy to point out, however, that by 1984 the FB RX7 had been on the market for 6 years and Mazda themselves were well underway on development of the FC RX7. The advantage of using the older generation of car is that many of the development bugs have been worked out, areas that needed modification in the name of performance had been identified, and the car didn’t struggle to make up the homologation run of 200 cars. The Group B RX7 featured a tuned up version of the 13B-RESI rotary engine. The RESI standing for Rotary Engine Super Injection. This engine could produce power up to 300HP (naturally aspirated) while only weighing 2120lbs (960kg). It would seem like the light weight RX7 would have excelled at tarmac events but much like other Japanese backed rally cars of the era, it specialized in rough events. The Group B RX7 also only landed on the podium once, but this was well into the Group B four-wheel drive supercar dominance era. Rod Millen of Rod Millen Motorsports developed both a four wheel drive version of the FB and the FC RX7s but they were both one-off prototype cars which only ran in SCCA ProRally where they were very successful. Had Mazda not abandoned Group B for Group A (mostly for cost) with the 323 GTX, Mazda may have produced a homologated version of the four wheel drive RX7. The RX7's only podium was a 3rd place finish by Ingvar Carlsson at the 1985 Acropolis Rally. The Acropolis Rally is well known for being one of the harshest rallies in the world and easily the roughest in Europe.

Podium(s)

  1. 3rd Ingvar Carlsson 1985 Acropolis Rally (12 Points)

Total Points = 12

8. Ford Escort RS2000

Ford Escort RS2000
Ford Escort RS2000
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The Mk 2 Ford Escort was a Group 4 transfer to Group B with a homologation date of 1 June 1982. Based upon homologation rules set by FISA (FIA’s predecessor), the Ford Escort RS could enter WRC events up until 1985 and was used, by privateers, to some limited success. The Ford Escort RS was one of the best Group 4 cars ever built, which is why it was somewhat competitive in early Group B. It was still a favorite among privateers (especially in South America) where it was ran in the top 10 at WRC events up until it’s homologation ran out in 1985. In 1982 the car was being ran by David Sutton Motorsports on Ford’s behalf, a very high-end privateer team with corporate sponsors and some factory backing. The year prior, Ari Vatanen won the World Rally Driver’s Title with the same car and while only somewhat competitive against other early Group B machines, it still managed to find the podium one last time. That podium came in the 1982 Swedish Rally with Vatanen coming in second only to Stig Blomqvist in his Audi Quattro. By the early 1980s, the Escort RS was using either the 1.8L DOHC Cosworth BDE or the all aluminum Cosworth 2.0L BDG to the tune of 250hp. Transmission of choice by 1982 was the ZF straight cut 5 speed. It is worth noting that while David Sutton Motorsports were still competing in the Gen 2 Escort, Ford was busy developing the stillborn Gen 3 Ford Escort 1700t. Ford abandoned the idea of a front engined, rear drive turbocharged rally car when the dominance of the Audi Quattro became apparent opting to develop the Ford RS200 instead. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Ford did homologate the Mk 3 Escort Turbo into Group B in 1985 but it later got reclassed into Group A.

Podium(s):

  1. 2nd Ari Vatanen 1982 Rally Sweden (15 Points)

Total Points = 15

7. Ferrari 308 GTB

Ferrari 308 GTB Michelotto
Ferrari 308 GTB Michelotto
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Continuing the trend of semi-successful privateer teams, like the entries before it, the Ferrari 308 GTB was never built or raced as a manufacturer backed car. In the early 1980s Ferrari had its international racing eye in F1 (which should be expected). The 308 was originally homologated into Group B on 1 October 1982 with further bodywork modifications homologated into Group B on 1 January 1983. The 308 was homologated one last time on 1 April 1983 to make the Quattrovalvole engine legal for rallying. Ferrari used the Micheletto team as their official rally team and customers could take their new 308 GTBs directly from the showroom to Micheletto and have the Group B rally conversion applied to their car. The car had so many modification for rally by Michelotto that the official name of the Group 4 and early Group B cars is the Ferrari 308 GTB Michelotto. Engines on the early cars were the 2.9L Tipo F106 AB SOHC V8 which was good for between 250-300hp in race trim. The later quattrovalvole engine used DOHC heads and produced between 300-400hp in race trim. This coupled with a legendary Ferrari chassis and drivetrain components made the 308 a venerable tarmac machine (where is saw most of its use). The lack of grip coupled with a rather expensive price tag for a rally car made them rare sights not only outside of Europe but on most gravel events (ironically pictured above on a gravel event). That being the case, the 308's only podium was in the all tarmac 1982 Tour de Corse rally where is finished 2nd at the hands of Jean-Claude Andruet. FYI, these cars were also the car of choice on the 1980s television series Magnum P.I.

Podium(s):

  1. 2nd Jean-Claude Andruet 1982 Tour de Corse (15 Points)

Total Points = 15

6. Porsche 911 SC/RS

Porsche 911 SC/RS
Porsche 911 SC/RS
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The Porsche 911's tale in Group B rally is a strange one. Porsche had no interest in rallying the 911. Actually the 911 wasn’t even supposed to be in production when Group B started but a last minute change of heart for the Board of Directors at Porsche saved the model. The future for Porsche was supposed to be with their newer front engined water cooled cars (924, 944, 928, etc.). Porsche’s actual entry in Group B rally was the 924 Carrera GTS, but it was only raced at the national level. Since all Group 4 cars which were still homologated at the end of Group 4 got automatically transferred into Group B upon request, the Porsche 911 received homologation on 1 March 1982. It’s also noteworthy that every sports car Porsche developed during the Group B era got homologated into Group B. This is where Rothmans come in. Rothmans, the tobacco company, was heavily interested in motorsports. In 1981 they sponsored David Sutton Motorsports who was running the Gen 2 Ford Escort 1800/2000 RS (which can be read about above). Since neither David Sutton Motorsports and/or Ford offered a Group B replacement to the aging Escort, Rothmans put their interest into David Richard’s Prodrive team (Rothmans also sponsored Opel on some events). Prodrive was founded and managed by David Richards (himself a world champion co-driver beside Ari Vatanen in 1981). Prodrive needed a car which was homologated and could compete at the highest level with minimum modification to performance. The Porsche 911 SC was the perfect fit. However, the 3.2L Carrera engine fitted to the latest 911 would have pushed the Porsche up into the next weight category. So Prodrive put the 3.0L SC engine into the 3.2 Carrera chassis to make the 911 SC/RS as an evolution model (of which only 20 were required). The 911 SC/RS was powered by the 3.0L all aluminum DOHC naturally aspirated flat six to the tune of 290 HP in competition trim. This potent power plant along with the 911's legendary handling made the 911 SC/RS quite the competitor on tarmac events. That being said, the 911 SC/RS never reached the top of the podium but did make multiple visits to the lower rungs. The 911 SC/RS achieved a third place finish in its first event the 1982 Monte Carlo rally at the hands of Jean-Luc Therier and went on to finish 3rd in the 1982 and 1985 runnings of the Tour de Corse rally at the hands of French tarmac ace Bernard Beguin. This marks the pinnacle of semi-manufacturer backed privateer teams in two-wheel drive Group B.

Podium(s):

  1. 2nd Jean-Luc Therier 1982 Monte Carlo Rally (15 Points)
  2. 3rd Bernard Beguin 1982 Tour de Corse (12 Points)
  3. 3rd Bernard Beguin 1985 Tour de Corse (12 Points)

Total Points = 39

5. Nissan 240RS

Nissan 240RS
Nissan 240RS
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The Nissan 240RS was the true underdog of Group B rally. It’s also the first car on the list to have actual manufacturer backing. When the technical limitations for Group B came down from FISA, Nissan took their new S110 Silvia RS, mixed in some ruggedness from their Group 4 Violet GTS, increased the displacement of the FJ engine to 2340cc (hence the “240" in the name), and took away any 1980s electronic fuel injection issues that could cause trouble in reliability. The FJ24 engine (using Nissan’s legendary engine coding system) stood for FJ series (which brought a DOHC head), 2.4L of displacement, and twin weber 45 carburetors. This simplicity made the 240RS incredibly rugged, easy to drive, and even easier to maintain. This combination was good up to 237 HP. Nissan developed an evolution version of the 240RS in 1985 with an increase in displacement to 2390cc and a change to rack and pinion steering. This evolution increased the power to 250 HP and made the car easier to handle on tough events. This change was too little too late as the 240RS was completely outclassed by 1985. For an example of this just check out the Castrol Classic film “A Place in the Sun” where Tony Pond (driving a one-off for Nissan in the 1983 Tour de Corse) openly comments on the shortcomings of the 240RS compared to the Audi Quattro and Lancia 037. By 1986 Nissan pretty much completely dropped support of the 240RS and left its fate in the hands of privateer teams. Despite this, the 240RS was still competitive in the lowers rungs of Group B up through the 1986 season on rough events. Between the Violet GTS and the 240RS, Nissan racked up a fairly impressive list of podiums in Group B. The predecessor to the 240RS, the Violet GTS, outright won the 1982 Safari Rally. The 240RS’ only podiums pretty much all came at the hands of either long time Nissan drivers Shekhar Mehta or Mike Kirkland in African events save for one 2nd place by Timo Salonen in the 1983 New Zealand Rally.

Podium(s):

  1. 1st Shekhar Mehta 1982 Safari Rally (Violet GTS) (20 Points)
  2. 3rd Mike Kirkland 1982 Safari Rally (Violet GTS) (12 Points)
  3. 2nd Timo Salonen 1983 New Zealand Rally (15 Points)
  4. 3rd Shekhar Mehta 1984 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (12 Points)
  5. 3rd Mike Kirkland 1985 Safari Rally (12 Points)
  6. 3rd Alain Ambrosino 1985 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (12 Points)

Total Points = 83

4. Renault 5 Turbo

Renault 5 Maxi Turbo
Renault 5 Maxi Turbo
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The Renault 5 Turbo, possibly one of the cars that gave FISA the idea for Group B to begin with. The other two being the Audi Quattro and the Lancia Stratos. The latter being where this story begins. Following the success of the Lancia Stratos, Renault wanted a mid engined sports car which they could compete. Renault had already developed the A110 and A310 through their Alpine subsidiary. The A110 was too old of a design being developed in the 1960s and the A310 which had some Group 4 success in it’s PRV V6 iteration was getting long in the tooth. Renault decided to start fresh. Renault had already developed rally cars from the Cinco platform before once again through Alpine. The Renault 5 Alpine and the Alpine turbo were both hot hatch versions of the original 5. Neither car made a real splash on the rally scene despite some Group 4 podiums. To accomplish their goals, Renault hired Betone (the famous Italian car design firm) to design a new mid engined version of their 5 Alpine supermini. Renault then put their steady workhorse engine, the Cleon-Fonte (Cleon being the town the engine plant was built and Fonte meaning cast iron in French), to work. The Cleon-Fonte engine is a 1.4L OHV (push rod head design) engine with Bosch K-jetronic fuel injection and a Garret AiResearch T3 turbo. This provided 160 hp at 2138 lbs in stock street configuration. In competition trim, the Group 4 Renault 5 Turbo could produce between 180-200 hp at 1984 lbs. The car was never really competitive on gravel events but was car to beat on tarmac challenges. It is noteworthy to mention that Renault was never really interested in WRC manufacturer titles. They were more interested in French tarmac championships which is why, through the 1980 and 1990s, Renault would only build tarmac specified machines. The Renault 5 turbo was homologated into Group B on 1 February 1982. The Renault 5 Turbo scored victories in both the 1981 Monte Carlo Rally (Group 4) and 1982 Tour de Corse Rally. It also placed 3rd in the 1984 Tour de Corse Rally. With the exception of the Tour de Corse in 1984, it was obvious that the old Renault 5 Turbo was getting out classed by the newer Group B machines. To combat this, Renault changed the Cleon-Fonte engine displacement to 1527cc (which under the Group B regulations allowed them to run wider tires) and an early version of turbo anti-lag which Renault developed for their F1 car. This boosted power up to 360 HP in competition trim and the new car was named the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo. The Renault 5 Maxi Turbo got a homologation date of 1 December 1984. The Renault 5 Maxi Turbo would go on to score a victory at the next years Tour de Corse rally and a second place in the 1986 Tour de Corse. Ironically, privateer Joaquim Moutinho would score a victory in the 1986 Portugal rally in the old 5 Turbo. Renault has done well in Portugal due to the long downhill stages that, although being gravel, benefit a light weight car.

Podium(s)

  1. 1st Jean Ragnotti 1982 Tour de Corse (Renault 5 Turbo) (20 Points)
  2. 3rd Jean Ragnotti 1984 Tour de Corse (Renault 5 Turbo) (12 Points)
  3. 1st Jean Ragnotti 1985 Tour de Corse (Renault 5 Maxi Turbo) (20 Points)
  4. 1st Joaquim Moutinho 1986 Rally de Portugal (Renault 5 Turbo) (20 Points)
  5. 2nd François Chatriot 1986 Tour de Corse (Renault 5 Maxi Turbo) (15 Points)

Total Points = 87

3. Opel Ascona 400/ Manta 400

Opel Ascona 400
Opel Ascona 400
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Opel Manta 400
Opel Manta 400

Much like how the Nissan Violet GTS became the 240RS, Opel’s Group B tenure started out with a late Group 4 standout and transitioned into a Group B competitor (both companies used the same strategies for Group B and neither really worked that well). FYI, Opel used to be GM’s mainland Europe brand while Vauxhall was their UK brand. These cars, the Ascona 400 and Manta 400, were so similar that they have to be counted together. The Manta 400 can, almost, if not completely be thought of as an evolution of the Ascona 400 (although changing base models required a new homologation). I’m getting ahead of myself, back to the beginning. In the late 1970s, Opel wanted a car that they could use to compete in rally against their rivals, Ford and Fiat. The Kadett was getting old and its CIH (cam in head, it’s like a mix of a pushrod head design and a SOHC head design) engine was becoming antiquated. Opel didn’t have a DOHC head for their engines under development so they took a page out of Ford’s book, they contacted Cosworth Engineering. Cosworth developed a DOHC 16v head that they could fit to their CIH block. Along with the German coach builder Irmscher (lightened body, increase track width), they modified a base Ascona into the Ascona 400. The new engine’s displacement was supposed to be 2.0L but when tested the 2.0L lacked significant power. To solve this problem, Opel used a crankshaft out of one of their diesel engines to increase the stroke of the engine which increased displacement. The new engine, dubbed the 24E, had a displacement of 2.4L and a naturally aspirated power output of around 230 HP in Group 4 race trim. This proved to be a potent combination and led Walter Rohrl winning the 1982 Driver’s Championship at the wheel of an Opel Ascona 400. Everybody, including Opel, knew that the Ascona 400 couldn’t compete against the newer bespoke Group B machines so Opel set out to design a new car based upon the Ascona 400. They kept the 24E engine but put it into a different slightly longer chassis that was lower and more aerodynamic. They also moved the engine back further to help weight distribution and took advantage of Group B’s lax attitude towards using exotic material for body panels. The new car was the Manta 400 and was homologated on 1 March 1983. The Manta 400 also had some internal engine modifications which could bring power up to 340 HP but hurt reliability. Opel experimented with a four-wheel drive Ascona 400 and/or Manta 400 using a Ferguson Formula four-wheel drive system but decided that it hurt reliability too much to be worth using. The Ascona 400 was a formidable beast in the early Group B days and won a few events but victories past 1982 were scarce. The Manta 400 didn’t post any wins at the WRC level but did podium occasionally and was a mainstay champion at the national level. Below is a list of the Opel Ascona 400/ Manta 400 podiums:

  1. 1st Walter Rohrl 1982 Monte Carlo Rally (Ascona 400) (20 Points)
  2. 3rd Walter Rohrl 1982 Swedish Rally (Ascona 400) (12 Points)
  3. 2nd Walter Rohrl 1982 Safari Rally (Ascona 400) (15 Points)
  4. 2nd Walter Rohrl 1982 Acropolis Rally (Ascona 400) (15 Points)
  5. 3rd Henri Toivonen 1982 Acropolis Rally (Ascona 400) (12 Points)
  6. 3rd Walter Rohrl 1982 New Zealand Rally (Ascona 400) (12 Points)
  7. 2nd Walter Rohrl 1982 Rallye do Brazil (Ascona 400) (15 Points)
  8. 3rd Walter Rohrl 1982 Rallye Sanremo (Ascona 400) (12 Points)
  9. 1st Walter Rohrl 1982 Cote d’Ivoire Rally (Ascona 400) (20 Points)
  10. 1st Ari Vatanen 1983 Safari Rally (Ascona 400) (20 Points)
  11. 3rd Jimmy McRae 1983 RAC Rally (Manta 400) (12 Points)
  12. 2nd Rauno Aaltonen 1984 Safari Rally (Manta 400) (15 Points)

Total Points = 180

2. Toyota Celica TCT

Toyota Celica TCT
Toyota Celica TCT
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The King of Africa. The Celica first appeared in WRC Group B as the 2000 GT, a 2L normally aspirated version of the previous generation of Celica. The Celica 2000 GT did fulfill its purpose, which was to win hard earned endurance rallies (of which most were in Africa). When it became obvious to Toyota Team Europe boss Ova Andersson that a more powerful machine was going to be needed to compete in Group B going forward, the TCT was born. TCT stands for Twin Cam Turbo. Toyota already had a turbocharged DOHC engine in a production car they could use as a starting point. This car was the third generation of the Celica which was already in production and had the 1.8L 3T-GTE engine. The 3T-GTE engine was a well built engine featuring dual overhead cams, Toyota built turbo, and double cam roller chains. However, for Group B, TTE needed more engine to be competitive. The 3T-GTE was given an overbore, added a larger watercooled KKK turbo, and EFI and became the 4T-GTE with a final displacement of 2.1L. The engine produced 180HP in street trim and could produce up to 380HP in race trim. Mated to the durable W55 transmission and a rear limited slip differential, the TCT was a beast out of the box. TTE chose to stay with the simple Group 4 layout (similar to Nissan) as both teams were fighting to show that Japanese reliability coupled to European performance made a car that could outperform anything else on the world’s toughest events. It did just that. The TCT was given a Group B homologation date of 1 March 1983 and debuted at the 1983 1000 Lakes Rally. The TCT picked up right where the Nissan 240RS left off, with its more powerful engine, the TCT made its appearance on African events known from the get go. The Celica TCT would put a driver on the podium on every African WRC rally after its 1983 1000 Lakes debut save for one, the 1984 Côte d’Ivoire Rally. The Celica TCT durability also led it to a podium in a non African event where endurance was the name of the game, the British RAC rally. Back in the 1970s and 1980 the RAC was a up to 8 day rally with no pace notes across varying conditions. The Celica TCT in 1984 at the hands for Swede Per Eklund placed 3rd at the RAC. Toyota never built an evolution version of the Celica TCT afraid that performance oriented changes could hurt reliability. TTE instead chose to begin development on the MR2 based 222D rally supercar but the project was cancelled when Group B and subsequently Group S were cancelled following the 1986 WRC season. The technology put into the Celica TCT and the 222D would eventually come back in the Group A Celica ST165 which would go on to carry Carlos Sainz to the Driver’s title in 1990 and 1992 and eventually Toyota the WRC manufacturer’s Title in 1993 and 1994 (in the Celica ST185) but that’s a story for another day. Below is a list of podiums for the Toyota Celica TCT.

  1. 2nd Per Eklund 1982 Rally de Portugal (Celica 2000GT) (15 Points)
  2. 1st Bjorn Waldegard 1982 Rally New Zealand (Celica 2000GT) (20 Points)
  3. 2nd Per Eklund 1982 Rally New Zealand (Celica 2000GT) (15 Points)
  4. 2nd Per Eklund 1982 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (Celica 2000GT) (15 Points)
  5. 3rd Bjorn Waldegard 1982 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (Celica 2000GT) (12 Points)
  6. 1st Bjorn Waldegard 1983 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (20 Points)
  7. 3rd Per Eklund 1983 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (12 Points)
  8. 1st Bjorn Waldegard 1984 Safari Rally (20 Points)
  9. 3rd Per Eklund 1984 RAC Rally (12 Points)
  10. 1st Juha Kankkunen 1985 Safari Rally (20 Points)
  11. 2nd Bjorn Waldegard 1985 Safari Rally (15 Points)
  12. 1st Juha Kankkunen 1985 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (20 Points)
  13. 2nd Bjorn Waldegard 1985 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (15 Points)
  14. 1st Bjorn Waldegard 1986 Safari Rally (20 Points)
  15. 2nd Lars-Erik Torph 1986 Safari Rally (15 Points)
  16. 1st Bjorn Waldegard 1986 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (20 Points)
  17. 2nd Lars-Erik Torph 1986 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (15 Points)
  18. 3rd Erwin Weber 1986 Côte d’Ivoire Rally (12 Points)

Total Points = 293

1. Lancia Rallye 037

Lancia Rallye 037
Lancia Rallye 037
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This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The Lancia Rally 037 was easily the most successful two wheel drive group B machine, even winning the 1983 WRC Manufacturers championship. At the beginning of Group B, Fiat (Fiat owns Lancia) was testing various prototype models for use in sports car racing. They had built a turbocharged version and a supercharged version of the Fiat 131. They had also developed a turbocharged version of the Fiat Ritmo. When Fiat noticed the dominance of the four wheel drive Audi Quattro, they knew the direction their project would have to take. Instead of building a complex and heavy four wheel drive car, they opted for a lightweight mid-engined two wheel drive machine. In the Group 4 days, Lancia developed and used to much fan-fare and success the Stratos HF. This purpose built Ferrari powered dirt missile is thought to be the reason for Group B in the first place. Fiat looked at the Stratos and decided that a similar platform could be used to combat the complex four wheel drive Quattro. Fiat had developed a mid-engined sports car version of their Lancia Beta called the Beta Monte Carlo. The Lancia Beta Monte Carlo was sold in the US as the Scorpion as the name “Monte Carlo” was licenced to GM in the US. This car featured a 2L Lampredi DOHC 4 cylinder engine mounted transversely midship and was already being used in sports car racing as a “silhouette racer”. A silhouette race car is one which looks from the outside like the production version but underneath uses a tubular space frame and usually different mechanical components. Fiat, under their Abarth performance tuning division, took the concept of the silhouette race car and the Monte Carlo and stretched the wheel base, added carbon kevlar clam shells front and back of the main cabin (the only part of the Monte Carlo kept mostly intact) and added a tubular space frame. The main cabin’s roof was modified to make space for the driver and co-driver’s helmets. The Lampredi engine was mounted longitudinally for better weight distribution and to give the mechanics better access to the power and drivetrain components. The heavily modified car was given the name Rallye 037, named after the project name the car was given during production. Fiat put Cesare Fiorio in charge of running the rally team and their are numerous stories about his “sneakiness” during the homologation and racing of the car. One such story begins with not having enough models (200 required) to make up the homologation minimum and having the cars counted twice during an elaborate lunchtime switcheroo. There are also stories of Fiorio putting plastic or cardboard roll cages in cars to save weight despite the danger. There are even more stories of Fiorio “modifying” the rally courses before running to better suite their cars. None of these things are provable, and they say, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’”. Fiorio was also notorious for issuing team orders in the name of manufacturer’s points and not supporting driver’s points only events. In 1982, the car was used as a test bed and didn’t finish on the podium once. After that, the team developed an evolution version which featured some different engine internal parts, a change from carburetion to mechanical fuel injection, and a larger volumex supercharger. These changes along with securing Walter Rohrl from Opel helped Lancia win the 1983 WRC Manufacturers championship. After 1983, wins were more scarce as newer rally machines were being developed. In 1984, Lancia developed a second evolution which consisted of a larger engine displacement and the removal of the rear bumper for added cooling and less material collection. The bumper removal was replaced by large mud flaps. Following the 1984 evolution, Lancia knew that the Rallye 037 would need a four wheel drive replacement and started development on the Delta S4. I would take until the end of 1985 for the Delta to be stage ready and in the meantime, Lancia used the outclassed Rallye 037. Even after the debut of the Delta S4, the Rallye 037 was still used on the Safari Rally where reliability was foremost. It is also noteworthy to mention that the Lancia driver Attilio Bettega was killed in a Rallye 037 on the 1985 Tour de Corse, the first major driver death of the Group B era. Below is a list of podiums for the Lancia Rallye 037:

  1. 1st Walter Rohrl 1983 Monte Carlo Rally (20 Points)
  2. 2nd Markku Alen 1983 Monte Carlo Rally (15 Points)
  3. 3rd Walter Rohrl 1983 Rally de Portugal (12 Points)
  4. 1st Markku Alen 1983 Tour de Corse (20 Points)
  5. 2nd Walter Rohrl 1983 Tour de Corse (15 Points)
  6. 3rd Adartico Vudafieri 1983 Tour de Corse (12 Points)
  7. 1st Walter Rohrl 1983 Acropolis Rally (20 Points)
  8. 2nd Markku Alen 1983 Acropolis Rally (15 Points)
  9. 1st Walter Rohrl 1983 Rally New Zealand (20 Points)
  10. 3rd Attilio Bettega 1983 Rally New Zealand (12 Points)
  11. 3rd Markku Alen 1983 1000 Lakes Rally (12 Points)
  12. 1st Markku Alen 1983 Rallye Sanremo (20 Points)
  13. 2nd Walter Rohrl 1983 Rallye Sanremo (15 Points)
  14. 3rd Attilio Bettega 1983 Rallye Sanremo (12 Points)
  15. 2nd Markku Alen 1984 Rally de Portugal (15 Points)
  16. 3rd Attilio Bettega 1984 Rally de Portugal (12 Points)
  17. 1st Markku Alen 1984 Tour de Corse (20 Points)
  18. 2nd Miki Biasion 194 Tour de Corse (15 Points)
  19. 3rd Markku Alen 1984 Acropolis Rally (12 Points)
  20. 2nd Markku Alen 1984 Rally New Zealand (15 Points)
  21. 2nd Markku Alen 1984 1000 Lakes Rally (15 Points)
  22. 3rd Henri Toivonen 1984 1000 Lakes Rally (12 Points)
  23. 2nd Attilio Bettega 1984 Rallye Sanremo (15 Points)
  24. 3rd Miki Biasion 1984 Rallye Sanremo (12 Points)
  25. 2nd Miki Biasion 1985 Rally de Portugal (15 Points)
  26. 3rd Markku Alen 1985 1000 Lakes Rally (12 Points)
  27. 3rd Henri Toivonen 1985 Rallye Sanremo (12 Points)
  28. 2nd Carlos Bica 1986 Rally de Portugal (15 Points)
  29. 3rd Markku Alen 1986 Safari Rally (12 Points)

Total Points = 429

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