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an Audi Quattro Group B rally car jumps in front of spectators on a dirt road

The Best of Group B – Rallying’s Greatest and Most Dangerous Era

The DriveDen blog provides advice, news and reviews. This article checks out 5 of the best cars from the most dangerous era in sport – Group B Rally.

 

Group B was an era that defined rallying – but it came at a huge cost to those involved, with several drivers and spectators killed during it’s brief tenure. The search for supremacy amongst the manufacturers involved led to 500bhp monsters that were almost impossible to control…but it also produced some of the most memorable and iconic racing cars ever built. Here’s our pick of the Group B era:

 

Audi Quattro S1
The one that started it all, the S1 dominated rallying in 1983 and 1984 due to the now infamous Quattro four-wheel-drive system. Before the Audi came along, rallying was a rear-wheel-drive sport but the previous winner, the Lanica 037, would go down in history as being the last rear-wheel-drive car to win the WRC, so Audi’s influence is still being felt today. The Quattro is seen as the ultimate Group B car and was thought to be the most powerful when the era was killed off, with the car producing close to 600bhp.

Peugeot 205 T16
The Quattro may have been the most powerful Group B car…but it was Peugeot that produced the most reliable and controllable car, and that combination led to two consecutive titles in the ’85 and ’86 seasons. The T16 was small but mighty, winning one-in-two of every rally event it entered – and thanks to the homologation rules, a road-going T16 was produced which had the flared arches and drivetrain of it’s rallying sibling, albeit with half the power!

Lancia Delta S4
Lancia are rallying royalty but had their nose put out of joint when the Group B regulations were introduced, as their all-conquering 037 was suddenly being left in the other cars’ dust. Their response was the Delta…and even by Group B’s standards, it was insane. Capable of reaching 0-60 in under 2 seconds (on loose gravel!), the Delta S4 was a four-wheel-drive, turbocharged and supercharged beast that was partly responsible for the demise of Group B, as a crash at the 1986 Tour de Corse event led to the Group B regulations being outlawed. After this, the Group A-spec Delta went on to become the most successful rally car of all time.

Ford RS200
After failing to make an impact on Group B with the rear-wheel-drive Escort, Ford introduced the four-wheel-drive RS200 to huge expectations…but unfortunately it never quite lived up to the hype. The RS200 produced around 400bhp, which was significantly down on it’s rivals and because of this, never placed higher than 3rd in a WRC event. After the demise of Group B, the RS200 went on to compete successfully in rallycross.

MG Metro 6R4
The MG Metro was usually seen being driven to the shops by an elderly relative, so when it emerged in Group B guise, with huge front and rear spoilers and a 2.9l V6 engine, it shocked the rallying world. Unfortunately, despite an impressive 3rd place finish on it’s competitive debut, Group B regulations were binned just 6 months later…so the 6R4 also went on to become a rallycross legend, alongside the Ford RS200.

Lancia 037
The 037 lacked four-wheel-drive and so it’s time was short-lived in the Group B era…but as the most beautiful car to take part, it has to be included in any list. The slightly detuned road-going version is now one of the most sought-after Lancia models, although it’s hard to find one that wasn’t turned into a full-on competition car.

 

Which was your favourite? Or did you prefer a Group B rally car that didn’t make it to this list? Let us know! Or how about checking out one of our other features, such as Super Touring – The Golden Years of the British Touring Car Championship

 

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