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.
Toyota’s first attempt at making a competitive Group B car for the World Rally Championship (WRC) came in 1983 with the Toyota Celica TwinCam Turbo. The car used a traditional design closely derived from a production model and featured rear-wheel drive, hence it proved not to be competitive against its purpose-built mid-engine or 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). To learn much more about the history of Group S, please CLICK HERE!
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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 at the time: the MR2. Furthermore, it is of no surprise that this particular car was chosen since the most successful rally car of the period, 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 overall exterior 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, easier to replace and more lightweight, paired with rally spotlights, everything 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”.
In addition, three different engines were reported to have been tested in the various 222D prototypes. As one can expect, the 2090cc “4T-GTE” engine already used in the Group B Celica TCT provided a quick proof of concept. A rumoured mystery V6 version also sneaked its way in there at some point. Up to 600 BHP was said to be available for both engines.
The main protagonist however was the 2140cc “503E”, also known as the “3S-GT”, turbocharged four-cylinder engine taken directly from Toyota’s LeMans Group C sports prototype. This might explain the “222D” moniker (MR2 + 2.2L engine). It is note to mention that this engine also later powered the marque’s very successful IMSA “Eagle” GTP race cars and the A90 Supra in the Japan Grand Touring Championship (JGTC). More importantly, this engine was also featured in Rod Millen’s 1994 Pikes Peak Celica – beating Ari Vatanen‘s 1988 record made with the mighty Peugeot 405 turbo 16. While in excess of 800 BHP was said to be available from the 503E, the one found in the 222D was rumoured to develop up to 750 BHP on gasoline.
Furthermore, two drivetrain 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. The dry/unladen weight of the rear-wheel drive version of the 222D was claimed to be around 750 KG (1,650 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 (2,200 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 would no longer adhere to the stringent displacement regulations and that most likely 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 early 1986, by TTE 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 rally 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 and felt relieved when news of the ban came to his ears.
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 however 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 it would have been sufficiently developed and allowed to race.
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 purchased by a private collector in 2017. 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 rally stages. 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 / rumoured)||– lb-ft @ – rpm|
|Materials||block: cast iron||cylinder head: aluminium alloy|
|Lubrication system||dry sump||N/A|
|Type||AW11-based 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 – rumoured 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