9 of the wildest ever rally cars

OpelManta400

Latest F Type rally reminded us of these mad gems from Ford, Ferrari, Mazda and more

MazdaRx7GroupB

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.

AudiGroupS

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.

Toyota222D

Toyota 222D

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.

Ferrari308GTB

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.

MGMetro6R4

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.

OpelManta400

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.

FordEscortRS1700T

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.

CitroenBX4TCEvo

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.

Nissan240RS

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

TopGear
Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.