Latest F Type rally reminded us of these mad gems from Ford, Ferrari, Mazda and more
Mazda RX-7 Group B
Group B had ALL the noises. But up until 1984, the Golden Era of rallying lacked one of motoring’s finest: rotary engines.
Luckily, Mazda entered in 1984. But this particular RX-7 never got to run, as Group B was over before it saw a stage.
Audi Group S
Audi’s engineers secretly cooked up a dozen 1,000bhp, mid-engined rally prototypes in the Eighties.
But when the bosses found out (via the police) about some – ahem – dubious testing, they demanded all 12 prototypes were destroyed. This one survived.
Here’s what happens when you have a dream to go rallying alongside a spare Le Mans engine.
It’s the mid-engined, four-wheel-drive 222D – a potent Group S MR2 that unfortunately never turned a wheel in anger, as Group S was regrettably scrapped.
Ferrari 308 GTB Group B
You don’t see many Ferrari rally cars, do you? That’s because Ferrari doesn’t do rallying.
That didn’t stop Italian race team Michelotto building around a dozen 308s to Group 4 regs in the late Seventies, though.
MG Metro 6R4
Wanting to combine the benefits of both the Audi quattro (4WD) and Renault 5 Turbo (mid-engined), the Metro 6R4 (that stands for 6-cyl, Rally car, 4WD) was Group B’s pocket rocket.
Plagued with mechanical failures, though, its best WRC result was third at the 1985 Lombard RAC Rally.
Opel Manta 400
The Manta 400 made its debut at Tour of Corsica in 1983. It lasted only 100 miles before the head gasket failed, previewing the results of future rallies.
With Kevlar bodywork and 275bhp, it was lightweight and powerful for a rear-wheel-drive car.
Ford Escort RS 1700T
Group B’s disregard for limiting performance allowed Ford to design its first silhouette rally car. It draped a MkIII Escort body over a custom RWD chassis.
Its costly and slow development meant it was scrapped in favour of a 4WD car: the mid-engined RS200.
Citroen BX 4TC Evolution
As unsuccessful Group B projects go, the Citroen BX 4TC was pretty much the most spectacular. It didn’t hit the World Rally stage until 1986 and only managed three competitive appearances.
Looked wonderfully mad, though.
Nissan 240 RS
The 240RS was the Group B version of the easily forgotten Violet GTS. What it lacked in performance, it made up in reliability.
And in the hands of Colin McRae, it brought results. Being a homologation car, 200 rare, boxy-arched road cars had to be produced. Excellent.
STORY Rowan Horncastle