Published on: Jan 21, 2016 @ 15:10 Originally Published in: 2015 (old website) (C) Jay Auger - website owner & author Notice: Any form of duplication methods (including but not limited to copy/paste of text and screen capture) of the website's content is strictly forbidden.
In 1985, the FISA (former ruling committee of the FIA) announced a possible replacement class to Group B that was referred to as “Group S”. The new regulations would require only 10 cars for homologation and was essentially a “prototype” class for rallying. The class was originally scheduled to make its debut on January 1st 1988, then as a heavily revised replacement to Group B for 1987, but both were ultimately cancelled. To learn much more about the history of Group S, please CLICK HERE!
Toyota’s first attempt at making a competitive Group B car for the World Rally Championship (WRC) was with the quite conventional Toyota Celica TCT. However, since that car was conceived when rear wheel drive was still the norm, it proved not to be competitive against its latter purpose-built four wheel drive competitors. The solution would demand a radical (and very expensive) new concept. In 1985, the announcement of the Group S class with its mere 10 units to be produced convinced Toyota to join the madness. They entrusted the project (which was code-named “222D”) to Toyota Team Europe (TTE).
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For obvious commercial reasons the projected Group S rally weapon would take on the image of Toyota’s brand new mid-engine sports car: the MR2. Furthermore, it is of no surprise that this particular car was chosen since the most successful rally car of the time, the Peugeot 205 T16, also used a mid-engine layout. Lancia was also well on its way with the similarly designed Delta S4.
As one can expect, the very special “222D” MR2 shared very little with the production car less its exterior overall shape.
The exterior of the 222D mimics the silhouette of the normal production MR2 quite well but is obviously much widened to accommodate a wider track for more stability and a greater range of tire widths. The bodyshell is made out of lightweight composites and features a rear opening clamshell to allow quick access to the engine. The front section features a traditional opening bonnet (hood) which also includes an extractor for the radiator.
In addition, the normal MR2 “pop-up” headlamps were replaced by more reliable fixed units (also easier to replace and more lightweight) paired with rally spotlights, covered with a polycarbonate screen for better aerodynamics. The semi-gloss paint of the black prototypes helps to bring out the car’s bold lines in a very striking manner. This would give the 222D the nickname of “The Black Monster”.
Two basic versions of the rally car were originally developed for testing; one featuring rear wheel drive for tarmac rallies, and one featuring Xtrac four wheel drive (of rallycross fame) for all other types of rallies. In addition, three different engines were reported to have been tested; a 2140cc “503E” LeMans GTP (Group C) sports prototype engine (which might explain the “222D” moniker (MR2 + 2.2L engine), the 2090cc “4T-GTE” engine already used in the Group B Celica TCT, and a rumoured mystery V6 version.
Power was reported to be around 600 BHP for all versions and up to 750 BHP was claimed to be available. The dry/unladen weight of the rear wheel drive version of the 222D was claimed to be around 750 KG (1650 lbs) which, paired with the 750 BHP, would give it (unofficially) an insane 1 kilogram per horsepower figure.
However, the heavily revised Group S replacement formula drafted in late 1986 would have demanded a minimum race weight of 1000 kg (2200 lbs), but this could have been easily compensated by further strengthening of the chassis and well placed ballasts thus allowing to perfectly balance the car at all four corners.
Furthermore, Toyota’s original choice of engines were based on the first 1985 draft of the Group S regulations, which were almost identical to Group B in that aspect, but the latter regulations would have imposed a 1800 cc limit on forced induction engines, and that would have obligated Toyota to get back to the drawing board.
The 222D is said to have been tested in Scotland’s Eskdalemuir Forest and at the sandy Bagshot Military Proving Grounds near Camberley in England, circa late 1985 or 1986, by Team owner Ove Andersson and Team driver Björn Waldegård.
Ove Andersson was a Swedish rally driver who started his rally career in 1966 in a Mini Cooper, ultimately landing in a Toyota Celica at the 1972 RAC rally. Andersson would then remain loyal to the Japanese brand while running his own rally team, which would eventually become Toyota’s official works department (TTE) in Cologne Germany. Before his death in 2008, Andersson made the following statement about the 222D: “You never knew what it was going to do. With such a short wheelbase and such power in such a light car it could swap ends at any time, and without any warning”. Andersson was an advocate for the annulment of Group B and Group S.
Not much else is known about the 222D prototypes since the project was obviously cancelled at the same time of Group S’ official demise at the hands of the FISA. Their state of finish shows that the project was quite advanced but not quite fully completed. Yet, from what can be seen and from what is known of Toyota in motorsport it can be positively argued that the Group S MR2 would have been a fierce contender, if sufficiently developed.
Eleven prototypes were rumoured to have been built before the project’s demise, with many reportedly destroyed in crash tests, leaving three known existing examples; two blacks, one white. One of the black cars resides in TTE in Cologne while the other was recently purchased by a private collector. The white car, which is 50 mm longer with looks closer to a road version, is said to reside in Tokyo.
Afterwards, Toyota’s adventure in the WRC would forcefully shift with the now legendary Group A Celica GT-Four (All-Trac) which was coincidentally developed alongside the 222D in the same TTE workshop. Both cars actually share some parts and both sport modified Xtrac four wheel drive systems of their own.
In more recent times, a black 222D made a surprise appearance at the 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed, performing a limited speed exhibition run up the hill. It is said to have been the car formerly tested by Andersson.
A pair of black 222Ds were also displayed at the 2016 Eifel Rallye Festival in Germany for the special 30th anniversary of Group B’s ultimate year (1986) but did not participate in the exhibition runs. A private collector subsequently purchased one of the black cars and provided rally fans much joy to finally see a 222D in action at the 2017 edition.
|Group / Class||S||PROTOTYPE|
|Conception / Production||1985~1986||# built: 11 (rumored)|
||WRC x 1.4 =
|Output power – torque||600/750 HP @ – rpm (claimed / rumored)||– lb-ft @ – rpm|
|Lubrication system||dry sump||N/A|
|Type||AW11-based full spaceframe chassis, 2 door coupe bodyshell with unknown type composite panels|
|Front suspension||double wishbones (presumed)|
|Rear suspension||double wishbones (presumed)|
|Brakes||F & R: discs||dual circuit with servo, adjustable ratio split front to rear|
|length: 3950 mm (155.5 in) *est||width: N/A||height: N/A|
|wheelbase: 2319 mm (91.3 in) *est||front track: N/A||rear track: N/A|
|Rims – tires||
|Dry/Unladen Weight||750 kg (1650 lbs) (claimed – rumored for RWD version)|
(C) Article by Jay Auger – website owner & author
- Images & videos are the property of their original owners
- Eifel Rallye Festival Pictures used under permission – McKlein Publishing
- eWRC-results.com, picture / driver profile