Group B remains one of the most celebrated and awe-inspiring periods of rally history, almost four decades after its beginning in 1982. Automakers dueled with turbocharged four-wheel-drive monsters with insane power figures and fender flares so large your mother would disapprove. Even Citroen got in on the action, bringing the exotic BX 4TC to the competition. Now, one of the exceedingly rare original rally cars could soon be yours.
The car in question is being sold by auction house Artcurial. This isn't just one of the Citroen BX 4TC homologation models for the road, either. This is a BX 4TC Evolution, one of the actual Group B competition vehicles piloted by rally driver Jean-Claude Andruet. Reportedly, the car is still in great condition, with Andruet stating "The gearbox is very good... even though the car has been in the museum all these years."
The Citroen BX 4TC had a troubled upbringing, with the French automaker starting development in 1983, a year after Group B had already begun. Five prototypes were prepared with different concepts, with varying drivetrain layouts and even a proper bespoke spaceframe design. However, with the rally program strapped for cash, Citroen elected to go with a front-engined design based on a monocoque chassis featuring a fuel-injected, turbocharged version of the rather old Chrysler 180 engine.
The result was a car that simply didn't have the right underpinnings to keep up with the rest. By the time it entered competition in 1986, rivals had already moved on to lightweight mid-engined designs, compared to the French design with a heavy iron-block engine mounted way up near the headlights.
The BX 4TC weighed in at 1150 kg, a full 190 kg above the 960 kg minimum weight limit in Group B. Other cars in the class, with spaceframe designs clad with composite bodywork, managed much closer to this figure. If the weight penalty wasn't bad enough, it was also underpowered, sporting only 380 horsepower, well below the 500 horsepower or more of cars like the Lancia Delta S4 or the cutting-edge Ford RS200.
Being a French design, the BX 4TC naturally brought the weird. It was kitted out with the company's famous hydropneumatic suspension, as seen on the Citroen DS road car and known for its supple ride. Maddeningly, it also lacked a proper transfer case or central differential, creating major handling problems as the front and rear axle fought each other during cornering. Citroen's fancy DIRAVI variable-assist power steering system was installed, however, to make the best of a bad situation.
The BX 4TC only competed in three rounds of the World Rally Championship, with its best result being a 6th place in the 1986 Swedish Rally. Outings at Monte Carlo and the Acropolis Rally were curtailed by crashes and mechanical headaches, despite some promising pace from driver Jean-Claude Andruet at the latter. Reportedly, the rough Greek stages were perfect for the car, with Andruet stating "the suspension, on the bumpy roads of the Acropolis, was fantastic."
With Group B competition cancelled at the end of 1986 for safety reasons, the BX 4TC program was quickly cancelled by Citroen. Reportedly, only 62 of the road-legal homologation cars had sold, and out of sheer embarrassment, Citroen bought back around 30 of these to scrap them. Similarly, only around 6 or 7 of the BX 4TC Evolution race cars remain, with this example being one of them.
If you're keen to lay your hands on a real Citroen rally car with that glorious spaceship styling, the price guide is €250,000-350,000. Bidding opens on October 24, so you've got a few weeks left to save. If you can, try and get Andruet on the phone to give you some tips on how best to handle this fussy French racer at speed.
Got a tip? Let the author know: firstname.lastname@example.org