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 on the planet. However, what most of you didn’t know is that for the past decade I have also been working on my lifelong dream: a Group B tribute car. I have been hiding this fact to all but a select few so not to be influenced. Before you jump to conclusions just by looking at the car in the picture above, I invite you to follow me through my story, albeit there’s nothing preventing you from going down past it and get directly to the juicy car bits.
QUICK BROWSE CONTENT
- JAY’S JOURNEY
- RALLY GROUP B SHRINE CREATION
- GRUPPE B RS TURBO 16V
- CONTACT ME
Born in the 1970’s in Canada, I’ve been a rallying fan for as long as I can remember and I have the sport to thank for my undeniable love for cars. In my youth, we followed our father, a RCAF loadmaster, to some of his various assignments around the world. In mid-1985, one of them gave us the incredible opportunity to be stationed in Germany at the peak of the golden era of rallying. I instantly fell in love with the Group B rally machines; the speed, the power, the looks, the audacity of it all! It was the beginning of a lifetime obsession: the passion. Our adventure in Europe was cut short, as was Group B itself, and in early 1987 we came back to our home country, this time for good.
It was not long after that I wanted to emulate my high-flying and fire-spitting heroes. However, most of the car models of Group B never were available in North America. Furthermore, being from a rather humble military family, I had to first make due with an entry-level Opel Kadett E (GM import). Largely under powered and front wheel drive, it was the perfect car to learn the basics in.
The passion later made me purchase a 1988 Mazda 323 GTX with the intentions of one day competing in national-level rallying. Before I could do so, the transmission blew up and I had little faith in my ability to fix it up so I sold the car as is. It was a bit of a heartbreak to watch the car roll away on a tow truck.
A bit later on, I managed to find a 1985 Audi quattro turbo coupé, in red to boot! The car was in very bad shape but I really wanted it. I bought it for way too much money and it ended up breaking down on me about 20 miles after taking possession. Again, I had zero confidence in myself so I returned it. I can proudly, or rather embarrassingly, say that I have owned an Audi quattro for about an hour and a half… (picture below is a generic example of that car)
This event brought me into a whirlwind of personal doubts that would last for years. Meanwhile, I could only continue my passion for rallying through volunteering at local events. This slump made me forego my love for 1980’s machinery so I bought a brand new Subaru Impreza WRX and then two years later traded it in for an STi.
Each was to be my future, definitive, rally weapon… or so I thought. I had squandered so much money in the purchases that I had trouble finding the determination to go forward with the project. Some doubts came over me once more: with this money I could have easily paid to get one of my old cars repaired, built, and started competing. With that debacle, more years crept by as I slowly made headway towards reaching my goal.
One day, the dream collapsed: my fiancée was hit with a degenerative disease that melted my wallet back to almost nothing. However, she gave me courage and begged me to not give up on my dreams. But 20 years had already passed since my original ambitions – my old bones didn’t feel like competing any more! In a sense, it all made the salvage of the dream that much better: turn my fear of failure and lack of confidence into determination and knowledge.
Hence, I went out to educate myself on what I needed to know to create the rally car that I’ve “always wanted” and “fix” my life’s mistakes. Then came the “Recce RallySport” idea: my fictitious rally team – if I can no longer buy it, I’ll build it! I was able to allocate a budget of approximately $1,500 per year to the venture.
After a few years of fiddling around with the Subaru, in a weird twist of fate, nostalgia kicked down the door: my undying love for the 1980’s and Group B suddenly came back like a tidal-wave and turned everything upside down once more. With my fiancée’s ever lasting support, I took the harsh decision to abandon all my previous efforts in favour of building from scratch my own vision of a Group B car on genuine 1980’s steel.
Why not a kit car replica instead? It all boiled down to me having literally no savings left. The Subaru was customised so far off most people’s tolerances that it was unsaleable. The only solution was to part it out and keep the good stuff. Thus, a replica was now impossible. However, a project that would tribute many Group B models and their distinct features was still feasible. I just so happened to have the perfect base car for this project rotting away alongside the garage… THE car that I’ll get to in a bit.
This all wasn’t a logical choice but the nostalgic link to the 1980’s, be it music, movies, cars, etc, is something that gives me much solace. With these 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. With that state of mind, always accompanied by 1980’s tunes blasting in the background, I started fiddling around some more.
In the end, this exceptional journey of hard work and dedication has made me become a self-taught welder (MIG & TIG), fabricator, mechanic, engine builder, and bodywork journeyman. My new set of skills also made me an avid “do-it-yourself” person (including around the house) which led me to even fabricate my own trailer to haul the car to the test track!
I did and still do everything myself in my home garage with simple hand tools and a ludicrously low budget considering the ambitions. Not to mention that these skills paired with a boost in self-confidence recently even shifted my previously unsatisfying career! Truly, the passion was life changing.
THE RALLY GROUP B SHRINE
All of this nostalgia culminated in a need to further research Group B history for my own enjoyment and culture. Then I noticed that there wasn’t a website dedicated to Group B rallying that was very inclusive of all content; some had information only about the cars, others only about the statistics, and most only carried partial or incomplete information. This led to the creation of my “Rally Group B Shrine” which was originally put up on my personal blog in 2014.
Hundreds of hours of my time was used to research and write all the articles while I was down with an herniated disc. Since I reside in Canada, I am nowhere near actual Group B cars or museums, so my vast collection of related books are my main source of knowledge (sometimes I have to get it from the internet though). The “Shrine” soon had become by far the most popular section of my blog which made me realise that it should be its own website. In 2016, I made it happen: this is where we are now!
Alongside my car project, this Shrine is now part of the master plan to make me relive my childhood dream of being part of Group B. Do note that the website remains an ongoing project in itself. Right now, it is only at a fraction of the level at which I want it to be. All is done in the little free time that is not dedicated my family, projects, and career.
Although I do wish that I had better credentials to present to you, i.e.; if I was a motorsport journalist or photographer, insider, historian, or professional rally driver, but sadly I am none of those things… As such, I have to say many thanks to the people who are those things because, if not for them, I wouldn’t possess the knowledge that I do and this website would not exist or be as complete; Graham Robson, Mike Moreton, John Davenport, Reinhard Klein, Vittorio Roberti, Luca Gastaldi, Bill Munro, the collective work of Motor Sport Magazine, and Auto Moto and Sport Magazine. You could even say that my love for Group B might not have been as strong if I didn’t have their work as a daily reminder.
A FITTING TRIBUTE – THE GRUPPE B RS TURBO 16V
I began this extraordinary adventure in 2007 as a near complete amateur. However, after much learning and deep study of Group B designs culminating in 10 years and approximately 3,500 hours of work combined, I am proud to present to you the “Gruppe B RS Turbo 16V”!
The project started life as a Mk2 Volkswagen Scirocco as the base bodywork donor and with a GD Subaru WRX STi as the mechanical donor. Before you jump to conclusions, there are reasons for every decision so I invite you to read up on my journey if you haven’t already. In any case, the result is undeniably a unique Group B inspired rally car. Considering its aspirations the project itself is incredibly low budget and was mostly funded through parting out both cars of their unnecessary parts.
Why combine a Scirocco and a WRX STi? Like previously stated in the introduction, most of the base car models used in Group B never were imported in North America, and the little that did are now nearly impossible to find. The Scirocco provided a perfect yet cheap hatchback platform that already had lines similar to the Audi quattro and could be modified to tribute other models as well. As far as the Subaru, it is the most common yet relatively cheap and very effective longitudinal four wheel drive (AWD) powertrain available on this side of the pond. Running the Subaru STi engine is but temporary: it will be eventually replaced by an Audi 20V turbo 5 cylinder engine when time and funds allow.
Why not a mid-engine build? The lack of general availability of a proper four wheel drive system for such a layout is the main reason. Too small a budget was second. My lack of expertise in such complex systems a third. Anyway, isn’t the front-engined Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 the poster-child of Group B?
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. Furthermore, a replica would always remain what it is, and making tribute to only one model. On my end, I love every Group B car no matter their motorsport records, so I thought that I should try and tribute the features that made them so memorable.
Of course, I do have my favourites, 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. 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 features while adapting them to the base car I had to work with. The goal, after all, being to make myself feel like some poor bloke circa 1987 that wanted to build himself a Group B car!
To achieve this, I created a custom tubular spaceframe to which I welded on the Subaru floorpan and firewall, and installed the mechanical components. In brief, this turned the car into a “buggy” to which a body could be fitted on. This “silhouette” procedure is similar to what some of the top tier Group B cars actually used.
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!
Then I delicately performed the “skin graft”.
Afterwards came the countless hours of fabrication with the very 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. 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! Immense care and devotion was taken to incorporate and marry as much different Group B features as possible in a comprehensive and performing package.
Here’s a list of the features and their direct inspiration I used from actual Group B cars;
- front air dam & spoiler / 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
- front headlights “overbite” to air dam / Lancia Delta S4
- rear quarter intakes / mix of Audi Sport quattro S1 E2 & Lada Samara EVA
- side skirts / 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 / Lancia Delta S4 Rallycross (main) & Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 (rod supports)
- rear “bumperless” & mudflaps / Lancia Delta S4 & Lancia Rallye 037
- “symmetrical side window lines” / Audi quattro
- roof line & intake / Lancia Delta S4 (main) & Ford RS200 (side 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
- 35 litres fuel tank / Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak
- 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)
- black “prototype” paint / Toyota MR2 “222D” & Lancia Delta S4 (matte finish)
See if you can spot them all in these pictures;
Hence, I’ve put incredible amounts of time in the “think tank” to create a real world performer that marries ease of service and adaptability, creating a real competition car, all within the confines of what I had to work with. Every component was strategically placed to achieve a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. 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:
Preliminary testing of the car wielded very “exciting” results to say the least! It drives phenomenally civil below 80 kph but becomes an aggressive lion as higher speeds are reached. The car, while still in prototype phase, is currently set-up for the deep snows of Canada, in hopes to beat my own winter RX lap record this coming winter. It 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.
If all goes well in the following years, I will most likely be changing the colour of the car and create a livery to promote this website and the history of Group B (which is not widely known or appreciated in North America – I aim to change that). The long sloping hood may feature a mural to honour the fallen of Group B; drivers, co-drivers, project leaders, and everyone who played an important role in its history.
I therefore dedicate this car and website 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. Shall they be remembered forever!
In the end, I am just a fan with an extraordinary amount of passion and devotion who invested thousands of hours of his time to create a website and a tribute car. As such, if you find the website enjoyable and a good source of information, a small personal donation could be much appreciated! The shrine expansion is still ongoing with as much effort as I can possibly put into it. If you need more information as to why a donation is important, CLICK HERE!
***all specifications subject to change as project evolution continues***
|Class/Budget (Canadian Dollars)||
|Project Years / Evolutions||
|Compression Ratio||8.2:1 (current)|
|Materials||block: aluminium||cylinder head: aluminium|
|Aspiration & Injection||
|Ignition||electronic||firing order 1 – 3 – 2 – 4|
|Lubrication System||wet sump with 1 oil cooler|
|Cooling System||water-cooled, rear mounted|
|Type||four wheel drive||6 speed manual gearbox|
||longitudinal, shortened 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, Subaru GD floorpan and firewall, integrated steel roll-cage, fully 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, rear spoiler, front aluminium “snowplow” air dam with integrated spoiler, skidplate system.|
|Front Suspension||independent, MacPherson 16-way adjustable struts, coil springs, optional adjustable sway bar.|
|Rear Suspension||independent, dual lateral links, trailing arms, coil springs, 16-way adjustable struts, optional adjustable sway bar.|
|Steering System||rack and pinion, hydraulic power assistance with cooler||12.0:1 (2 turns lock to lock)|
|optional vacuum assistance, adjustable F/R ratio, vertical hydraulic handbrake|
||width: 72.0 inches / 1830 mm||height: TBA 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:
|Dry/Unladen Weight||1090 kg / 2,400 lb (current)||Bias: F/R 50%|
|Weight/Power||– kg/HP (- lb/HP)|
|Fuel Tank||35 litres (rallycross)|
Do you have questions about the car? If so, please use the contact form below to contact me! (anonymous or hateful messages will be rejected)