Seven Anything-Goes Group B Rally Legends Are Up for Grabs in Paris
These cars made jaw-dropping amounts of power in their prime.
Group B cars were banned swiftly and pitilessly in 1986 following the crash of Finnish racer Henri Toivonen and his American co-driver Sergio Cresto at Tour de Corse on the French island of Corsica. Toivonen’s crash wasn’t the first, but it was the last of Group B rallying, which many call the “golden age” of rally racing. Group B cars were exciting, immensely powerful vehicles that required incredible handling skills, and two racing enthusiasts gathered a collection of seven of the best of them soon after the ban for exhibition. After more than three decades on display, on February 5 this rare Group B museum-quality collection will be auctioned off for large sums of money by Artcurial Motorcars in Paris. While annual auction and quirky auto show Rétromobile is postponed for 2021, this one-off auction also includes 35 other lots like a gorgeous 1954 Bentley Continental and a 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT that is anticipated to fetch $2 million or more.
One of the cars for sale is a 1985 Lancia Delta S4, the same type of car the Flying Finn was driving in 1986 when the car failed to make a left-hand turn, crashed, and tragically burst into flames, the Kevlar body-paneled car igniting quickly. Bruno Saby went on to win the race in a Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Evolution 2, that year, a first for Peugeot in that race. The Peugeot is also for sale, restored to Tour de Corse ’85 spec and one of only 20 E2s ever built. Brace your wallets: both the Lancia and the Peugeot are expected to sell for €600,000–€800,000 ($726,312–$968,416).
The big star of the collection is the iconic 1988 Audi Quattro Sport S1, which driver Bruno Saby described to Artcurial as “the greatest monster of them all”. It could accelerate from 0-100kph in a blistering 2.6 seconds and made 500 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque in a kevlar body on steel monocoque. Acquired directly from Audi Sport, the car even comes with the sales agreement showing only 1000 kilometers were on the odometer before it went to the museum. This rally car is expected to sell for upwards of $1.2 million, which is even more amazing considering it was only driven at the Race of Champions exhibition in 1988.
According to driver Hannu Mikkola, "When you started off, you were thrust forward so brutally that you would have thought that a five-ton truck had crashed into the back of you at full tilt. The power was unheard of." Mikkola drove the Audi alongside notables like Hannu Mikkola, Walter Röhrl, Bobby Unser, Stig Blomqvist. Michele Mouton was the first female to set a world record time at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the Audi Sport S1 in 1985.
Also for sale is a 1985 Renault 5 Maxi Turbo, a colorful 1985 MG Metro 6R4, one of 148 surviving 1986 Ford RS200s, and a 1986 Lancia Delta S4 from the end of the Group B era. If you have the means to snap up one of these pieces of car history, get out your checkbook. This auction is one of a kind.
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