Some of you already know me as the owner and author of this website and that obviously makes me one of the biggest Group B aficionado and connoisseur on the planet. However, what most of you didn’t know is that since 2007 I have also been working on building myself a Group B-esque 1980’s tribute car. Before you jump to conclusions just by looking at the car in the picture above, there are reasons why it isn’t an actual replica or a kit car of a Group B or 1980’s movie car, and I first invite you to follow me through the story about how my love for rallying’s Golden Era and the best decade in modern history changed my life: JAY’S JOURNEY (separate page).
Rally Group B Shrine owner, chief editor and author
QUICK BROWSE CONTENT
- PROJECT DETAILS
- SNOW TIME ATTACK (S-T/A) PROTOTYPE (2017)
- STRADALE CORSE (S/C) PROTOTYPE (2018)
- SNOW STRADALE CORSE (SSC) PROTOTYPE (2019)
- CONTACT ME
I began this extraordinary adventure in 2007 as a near complete amateur in mechanics and body work. After much learning and deep study of Group B and rally car designs culminating in a decade of approximately 3,500 hours of work combined, I am proud to present to you the “53B RS-Turbo 16V” (soon to be 20V!)- a tribute car yet a proper four-wheel drive (4WD/AWD), spaceframed (tubular), turbocharged and very fast rally car.
The early project started life with a Subaru that I had purchased in 2003 to which I began heavily fiddling with from 2007~on. I later found a 1980’s Mk2 Volkswagen Scirocco and the project soon shifted to building my own vision of a 1980’s tribute car; Group 5, Group B, Mad Max, and more. The result is undeniably a 1980’s melting pot albeit there exist an anachronism or two under its skin. Considering its aspirations the project itself is incredibly low budget and was mostly funded through parting out both cars of their unnecessary parts.
Why a VW Scirocco as a silhouette base? As previously stated in the journey, most of the base car models used in Group B were never imported in North America, and the little that did are now nearly impossible to find (at a decent price anyway). The Scirocco provided an ideal yet cheap hatchback platform that already had body lines similar to the Audi quattro and could be modified to tribute other rally models as well. I reckon that the only better car for this unique purpose might have been a 3-door VW Quantum (tail lights and rear screen ala Audi, etc), but I have never seen one around my parts.
Other inspirations, such as Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, will be obvious to my peers and unconditional lovers of the decade. The nostalgic link to the 1980’s, be it music, movies or cars is something that gives me much solace. With these personal moments, for mere seconds at a time, I am able to recall feelings of my youth; a time when everything felt better, when life was simpler, of when I didn’t have to worry about tomorrow. Their effect on me is overwhelmingly addictive.
Why not a mid-engine build? The lack of general availability of a proper yet affordable four-wheel drive system for such a layout was the main reason. My lack of expertise to design such complex systems a second. Anyway, isn’t the front-engined Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 the poster-child of Group B? It arguably is, even tough the purists won’t agree! Anyhow, the car will eventually feature an Audi 20V turbo 5-cylinder engine, which is currently in my possession, when time and funds allows for the swap. This particular Audi engine / Subaru drivetrain combo has already been done by Andrew Hawkeswood of New Zealand in his first S1 E2 replica to very good effect.
Why not a kit car or replica? I had no budget to import a kit car or make the slightest attempt at a period-correct replica. Living in Canada instead of Europe made sure of that. Furthermore, a replica would always remain what it is: making tribute to only one model while fully knowing it is not real. On my end, I love every Group B car no matter their motorsport records, so I thought that I should try and tribute as much of the features that made them so memorable instead. This also gave me liberty as to add other touches that would be considered scandalous if made to a genuine Group B machine.
Of course, I do have my favourites in the world of Group B cars; which are the Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 (and its Pikes Peak derivative) and the Lancia Delta S4 (and its rallycross derivative). These are obviously better represented in my project but the full list is quite extensive. However, it is important to note that copying them to the last detail never was the intent; I rather much preferred creating my own version of these Group B features while adapting them to the base platform, with a slight hint of Group 5 mixed in, all the while designing it to be a real-world performer.
To achieve this, I first designed and fabricated a custom tubular spaceframe to which I welded on the floorpan plus firewall, and installed the mechanical components. I chose to overbuild the chassis with larger diameter and much heavier gauge tubing than most spaceframe Group B cars. Albeit this added some weight, it was mostly done for a maintenance-free chassis, plus some extra safety for my brittle bones! Ultimately, this step turned the car into a rolling “dune buggy” to which a body could then be fitted on. This “silhouette” procedure is similar to what some of the top tier Group B cars actually used and is of similar design to some commercial kit cars as well.
Afterwards came the countless hours of fabrication with the basic hand tools at my disposal. I also had some restoration work to perform on the Scirocco body since some areas were rotted out by rust. Leaving the rust on sure would have made tribute to Mad Max even better but the car would need to pass tech so these spots were fixed. However, I left some of its most inherent flaws (like wavy and/or warped panels due to chassis fatigue) to retain its history intact and keep the car looking 30 years old.
All of the bodywork modifications were made in the very same spirit of Group B; function first, form second, if it ends up looking good then it is only a bonus! However, immense care and devotion was taken to incorporate and marry as much different Group B features as possible in a comprehensive and performing package.
This is all not for show as I’ve put incredible amounts of time in the “think tank” when designing this car; every component was strategically placed to achieve a perfect 50/50 weight distribution (with crew) in a very short 89.0 inch wheelbase package, also marrying ease of service and adaptability to varying conditions and surfaces, hence creating a real rally car within the confines of what I had to work with. However, in the end I am only one person with one vision and a limited budget, but I think the result speaks for itself!
Maybe this next picture explains my challenge best:
A complete description of the build would obviously take way too long to detail but for the most part these following pictures will be self-explanatory to the builders of custom racing cars:
The current 435 BHP flat-four engine combined with the current 1090 kg weight, perfect 50/50 distribution (with crew), and (let’s be honest) a few touches of modern technology should make the car’s performance more than a match for most genuine Group B cars. With an ultimate goal of 550 BHP (with the Audi 5 cylinder) paired with a metric tonne or less of weight, the project will remain a work in progress for quite some time as I hope to perform one major “evolution” each year as was permitted by the Group B rules, and possibly implement more 1980’s touches as long as they do not detract from performance.
I therefore dedicate the “53B RS-Turbo” (53 / mkII Gruppe B RallyeSport Turbo) to the exploits and sacrifice of the courageous drivers and co-drivers, imaginative engineers, hardy mechanics, and everyone involved in making what Group B was. I also much affectionately dedicate the car to every artist, actor/actress, musician, filmmaker, and everyone responsible for shaping the 1980’s into the best decade to ever have been. Shall they be remembered forever!
Here’s a list of the features that were implemented into the project and their direct inspiration I used from actual Group B cars and 1980’s popular culture;
- front air dam / Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 (main) & Lancia Delta S4 (front headlights “overbite”)
- front spoiler (S-T/A version) / Audi Sport quattro S1 Pikes Peak (main) & MG Metro 6R4 (spoiler angle)
- front fenders / Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 (main) & Toyota MR2 “222D” (vents)
- quadruple round headlights (replacing factory square / rectangular units for ease of replacement) / Lancia Delta S4, Lancia Rallye 037, Ford RS1700T, various others
- front turn signals left factory / various
- rear quarter intakes / mix of Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 & Lada Samara EVA
- side skirts (S-T/A / S/C version) / mix of Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 & Lancia Delta S4 (“floating chassis”)
- rear clamshell / mix of Lancia Delta S4 (main) & Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 (dual rear vents), Renault 5 Maxi Turbo & Porsche 959 (rear fender vents)
- tail lights / Lancia Delta S4
- rear spoiler (S-T/A version) / Lancia Delta S4 Rallycross (main) & Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 (rod supports) & Group 5 (narrowed to stock body width)
- roof spoiler (S/C version) / Lancia Delta S4 proto
- rear “bumperless” & mudflaps (S-T/A version) / Lancia Delta S4 & Lancia Rallye 037
- rear bumper add-on (S/C version) / Lancia Delta S4
- “symmetrical side window lines” (S/C version) / Audi quattro
- roof line & intake / Lancia Delta S4 (main) & Ford RS200 (side shape)
- side quarter window panels (integrated canard ducts) / mix of Lancia Delta S4 & Citroën BX 4TC (shape)
- CB radio antennae position / MG Metro 6R4 & Opel Ascona B 400
- intercooler (AWIC heat exchanger in my case) position / Ford RS200
- rear radiator setup / Lada Samara EVA
- rear transverse muffler and dual exhaust pipes / Lancia Delta S4
- chassis construction / Lancia Delta S4 & Ford RS200 (rear), Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 (cabin and front section)
- shorter wheelbase / Audi Sport quattro (procedure) & Porsche 959 (@ 89 inches)
- interior (currently unfinished) / Lancia Delta S4 (dashboard) & KITT (Knight Rider original series)
- black derelict paint and rough edges / Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
SNOW TIME ATTACK (S-T/A) PROTOTYPE (2017)
The very first build of the car was specifically aimed for maximum performance / minimal weight in a deep snow rallycross (time-attack) setting. Preliminary testing of the prototype on a dry open tarmac circuit in early November wielded very exciting results to say the least! It drove quite civil below 80 kph but became a true beast as higher speeds were reached. Past 130 kph the aerodynamic support was clearly noticeable and made the car dig in very aggressively in the corners (even if equipped with soft winter tires) and that took much getting used to!
All was done in hopes to beat my own winter RX lap record at my usual snowy testing grounds. However, it turned out that the track owner decided at the last minute that he would no longer open the track in winter due to rising maintenance and snow-plowing costs in addition to poor clientele. This has unfortunately busted all of my plans for attempting to beat my record and get much needed benchmark data for future evolutions of the car.
This setup is expected to be eventually transformed for circuit time-attack / hill climb usage. However, there is nothing preventing it from going back to its intended purpose if a snow venue can be once again secured in the future.
STRADALE CORSE (S/C) PROTOTYPE (2018-19) / Road and Rally
The unforeseen annulment of the winter testing forced me to begin working on the road / stage rally version of the car much sooner than expected. In early March of 2018 the car was finally ready to legally hit the streets. However, the car’s rally and circuit racing aspirations should continue intermittently in the year when budget allows. It is note to mention that everything was made modular to quickly allow the switching back and forth between versions of the car.
While the S-T/A version focused primarily on maximum performance and minimal weight for a snow time-attack setting, the S/C version was fitted with a passenger seat, as low down and back as possible for a co-driver ride along, jack and tools, rally equipment, fire extinguisher, camera mount, CB radio, and other amenities such as custom polycarbonate sun-visors and a secondary heater.
Notable exterior changes are the front spoiler delete (which will soon be made to be quickly bolted-on/off), revised front air dam (now in 2-piece), rear spoiler delete replaced by a new adjustable roof spoiler, and rear bumper. All necessary lighting was added such as backup lights, 3rd brake light, dual bulb marker / turn signals, and made fully functional via load resistors. The license plate position was chosen to mirror the vintage offset placement of event plates such as the Monte Carlo Rally.
Mechanically the car is identical minus the exhaust bypass plate and suspension settings. Chassis-wise it is also identical minus the addition of jacking point tabs. It drives phenomenally civil considering its raw nature albeit the high torque capacity clutch is at times difficult to finesse. The car begs for speed and is an obvious head-turner.
STRADALE CORSE T/A (SUB-VARIANT)
The advent of summer brought the need for performance tires and new wheels. However the latter turned out to be a real nightmare of out-of-stock items, bad inventory management, and overseas refunds. Hence I decided to retain the snow and gravel rally wheels but went for a vintage tire look to satisfy my hidden love for 1980’s muscle cars: BFG Radial T/A – which brought a new “Stradale Corse T/A” sub-variant.
Further refinements were made to the car such as the replacement of the heavy rear tow-hooks in favour of twin tow-straps, the addition of lateral polymer splash guards, lowered and re-balanced suspension. A quick run-down at the track saw the new tires and suspension settings dial-out the torque-steer issues previously encountered under heavy acceleration in lower gears.
Late summer brought fortune with imported tarmac wheels from Europe, featuring a vintage aero design paired with the look of BBS cooling disc add-ons of the late 70s and 80s racing cars – giving the car a more aggressive stance and corner-hugging abilities. These wheels also add the possibility of using 275-wide tires in the future. Re-installation of the adjustable sway bars yielded more confident handling amidst the suspension’s modest all-purpose camber settings.
Further refinements were made to the car such as reworked suspension settings, better weatherization, unused frontal grille block-off plates, rear mudflap holders, a new hydraulic handbrake system, and the addition of fully-plumbed (ducts to spindles) air cooling for the brakes at all four corners.
SNOW STRADALE CORSE (SCC) (2019)
Winter of 2019 brought the opportunity for actual snow testing at the track, the latter being no longer prepped in the frigid season – meaning that the car had to forcibly plow through six to twelve inches of snow and, by doing so lap after lap, creating a more suitable surface to run on. The air dam, borrowing a similar design to the Audi Sport quattro S1 E2, was originally made out of aluminium for such a snow-plowing purpose – while of course aiding with downforce in other environments.
Amazingly enough, minus a rod of one of the rear mudflap holders that broke off, everything held up quite well to the 20+ laps heavy abuse – including, to much awe, the front lip under the front air dam. ^^
Albeit the unprepared surface didn’t allow for a record-breaking run, the car proved to be ferocious on snow and ice by instantly pointing to the desired direction per a flick of the steering wheel and blip of the throttle. Best lap times would match my best run of 2015 made with a more aggressively aero’d and smoother Subaru WRX STi that I ran on a much better overall and prepared surface – hence proving the worthiness and potential of the 53B RS-Turbo.
The apparent ruggedness and speed of the overall design in this test session brings the project ever closer to its final shape when maintenance will be the only item left on the to-do list – even though that is years away!
***all specifications subject to change as project evolution continues***
|Class/Budget (Canadian Dollars)||
|Project Years / Evolutions||
||Cylinder Head: aluminium|
|Aspiration & Injection||Subaru:
|Cooling System||water-cooled, rear-mounted|
|Type||four-wheel drive (4WD/AWD)||
||longitudinal, shortened and balanced driveshaft|
|Differential Ratios||3.90||dual limited-slip with standalone driver controlled centre differential (35-65% to 50/50% lock front to rear ratios)|
|Clutch||dry single plate / 600 lb-ft capacity|
|Type||fully custom spaceframe chassis, partial Subaru GD floorpan and firewall, integrated steel roll-cage, sealed cabin with rear bulkhead, Scirocco Mk2 body with custom wide arch panels, polycarbonate side and rear screens, custom rear clamshell with integrated roof scoop and cooling ducts, “flat bottom” skidplate system.
|Front Suspension||independent, MacPherson 32-way adjustable struts, coil-over springs, optional and adjustable sway bar.|
|Steering System||rack and pinion, hydraulic power assistance with optional cooler||12.0:1 (2 turns lock to lock)|
||width: 72.0 inches / 1830 mm||height: varies inches / – mm|
|wheelbase: 89.0 inches / 2260 mm||front track: 62.0 inches / 1575 mm||rear track: 61.8 inches / 1570 mm|
|Rims – Tires||Tarmac:
||Bias: F/R 50% (with crew) (all)|
|Weight/Power||2.5 kg/HP (5.5 lb/HP)|
|Fuel Tank||40 litres|
|Top Speed||260 kph (160 mph) *est|
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