Seven vicious Group B rallying greats go under the hammer
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Group B was a gift and a curse.
It gave us what will likely remain the most memorable era of the World Rally Championship; where the cars and drivers reached a peak level of insanity, and where the dangers of the sport did too.
The four-wheeled heroes from the era are now pedestalled unlike anything else from the rallying world. And nowhere is this more clear than at the contemporary motoring auction, where they often rub shoulders with exotic supercars and eloquent classics — despite many of them being based on economy cars.
Of course, it was all different underneath. As manufacturers tried harder and harder to gain an edge on their rivals, the cars grew inexplicably crazier. Engines moved from the front, to the middle, to the rear. Materials got thinner and thinner. The relationship between them and the cars upon which they were based became laughable.
And now seven heroes from this memorable period in rallying are up for auction at the upcoming Bonhams Montery action, all of them part of the same person's collection. Included in the list are three Lancias, two Fords, an Audi, and a Peugeot.
The Lancia trio plot three phases in rallying for the Italian marque — a period that doubled as their peak before ultimately becoming a shadow of their former selves. It starts with the 1975 Stratos (this one in blue with 12,600km on the clock).
Then there's the 1983 037 Stradale in red, which ditched the wedge but retained rear-wheel drive in a move that was later superseded by everyone else's four-wheel drive creations.
And lastly the most famous and infamous of them all; the 1984 Delta S4 Stradale. This twin-charged machine was the most brutal of Lancia's Group B cars. It sadly also played a role in the deaths of several drivers and co-drivers; including promising Finnish pilot Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto.
Their deaths at the 1986 Tour de Course resulted in an immediate ban of Group B machinery by FISA for 1987.
Fatal crashes also marred Ford's pocket rocket RS2000s, of which there are two in this set. One such incident concerned a privateer entrant making an error and striking a crowd of people.
Both of the blue ovals in this group are 1986 examples. Not bad that they're both still together, given only 200 were ever made.
The last two cars in some way are polar opposites; a 1985 Audi Sport Quattro and a Peugeot 205 T16. The Quattro was the mature machine to have in the WRC, as the first to bring four-wheel drive technology (hence, 'Quattro') to the party. This one's signed by former WRC Audi great Walter Rohl on the steering wheel.
The Peugeot meanwhile was up there with the Delta S4 Stradale for sheer lunacy — its imposing turbo-charged engine crammed into the back of the little hatchback, with the hatch opening up at the B pillar; turning the little Pug into a giant Pez dispenser (just like the S4). This particular Peugeot only has 1,126km on the clock.
It was an incredible time for the sport, and on August 18 when they all go up for sale, the appreciation for that era will no doubt see prices soar.