The Greatest Group B Car?

Without doubt the most recognised motorsport vehicle classification, Group B conjures up images of the flame-throwing, rubber-laying and stage-taming beasts of the ’80s World Rally Championship. Although official power figures were around 300-400hp, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that these numbers were probably just a tad understated…

The era produced some of the most famous rally cars ever, from the quattro S1 to the 205 T16, from the 037 to the RS200. It also included a collection of forgotten cars that never really made an impact, but live on in the fond memories of fans. The Ferrari 308 and FB RX7 in particular. In the end, the governing body couldn’t tame the group and the deaths of spectators and drivers sealed its fate.

Seeing as there were so many cars in Group B (much more than you would think), we’ve cherry picked our favourites below and thought we’d let you vote on which one you love the most. If we’ve missed one, let us know but most importantly tell us why…

Paddy McGrath
Twitter: @PaddyMcGrathSH
Instagram: speedhunters_paddy

Photo by Jonathan Moore

Speedhunters rally roots theme
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What's the poll if you put the winner on the cover? :D




@wojt Total agreement :D


I love Audi quattro S1.
And  Lancia Delta S4,Renault R5 Maxi Turbo




Easy, the Delta S4. First off, it was twin charged to get even more power with little lag, and that's not something you want to the rallies these cars were doing then. Second, it's still known as the craziest Group B car ever built by pretty much anyone who raced or witnessed Group B in person. It was one lightest of all the cars, tied with the Peugeot 205 and only beaten by the Renault 5. But I mean come on, what other car had a supercharger whine coming at you, then going away had a blowoff valve going off? Easily the greatest because of the boundaries it pushed even more than the others. It may not of been the most successful Group B, but in it's quick year and half, it'll always be the mentalist. And it's my favorite car of all time, so I'm biased!


@wojt They haven't put the Audi A2 on the poll though!


This is a hard one to call! In terms of competition alone, the Peugeot 205 T16 4x4 or Delta S4 would have to be at the top of the list. The S4 was that bit more technically innovative (and bonkers!), so that probably best encapsulates how far Group B went.
Looking at the big picture though... I'd say the Audi quattro A1. It was the car that started the 4wd revolution and, although later developments of that design bought even more speed and spectacle, it was the A1 that kickstarted it all.


Everybody know, that to win an Audi, because it's the most known car of Gr. B.


Peugeot 205 T16 audi might of put 4wd in rallying but peugeot still spanked audi's arse.


delta anyday!!!


Where's the 959. I know it didn't actually race but it was still a legitimate Gruppe B car.


Delta S4, the last Grp. B champion before being disqualified.


For me the best of the lot is the Audi. But in African rallies that's a different story. There the Toyota Celica was king.


tbtsttIts called S1!
this is a A1:


Love it anyway.


Masterwana tbtstt Not really. The Quattro A1 was the first evolution of the Quattro Rally car. Then came the A2, and S1 if i'm not mistaken


@Jorma Maybe i din't understand what you meant, but altough the S4 is by far my favorite rally car of all time, it never won a Championship. It came close in the year group B was disbanded, but lost to Peugeot.


Lancia 037. Mid engined, two wheel drive, twin charged (supercharger AND turbocharger), last rear-wheel drive car to win and in the process beat the monstrous Quattro. If you don't think that's impressive don't talk to me.


Masterwana No, its not. ;) Audi have used the "A1" designation twice. The original long wheelbase quattro (UrQuattro) rally cars were "A1" and the evolution model "A2". This is an original A1:
The car in the photo at the top of this article is an A2.
There is also a lot of confusion between the "S1" and "S1E2" designation. "S1" refers to the original Sport (short wheel base) quattro, "S1E2" was the winged evolution short wheel base model. It was only when I was directed to this website a few years back...
...that I realised how many places were getting the classification wrong!
If you are an Audi fan I would HIGHLY recommend this book:
Its by the same chap (John Davenport) who wrote the website contribution linked above and its the complete rally and development history of the UR and sport Quattro. I found it particularly interesting to read what the drivers thought about the developments of the car!


Gepi Masterwana tbtstt I believe that is correct: A1, A2, S1 then S1E2. :)


@KSK The 037 was just supercharged, wasn't it? I thought the S4 was the first car to utilize twin-charging?


tbtstt Whoops I'm definitely wrong. It is just supercharged.
Regardless last two wheel drive car to win WRC deserves a good chunk of love.


If you don't have witnessed the Delta S4 with your own eyes you don't really know how fast it moves because the figures don't do it justice, but this video shows pretty much how fast it is: I can say that the Lancia Delta S4 is my favorite by far, just because the technology behind it. If you didn't knew it the double clutch gearbox was invented in Group B, because the drivers couldn't move their feet fast enough.


The Audi?!  Really?
No, no, no...  Has to be the S4.  One word; Twincharged (or should it be two?)
If turbos are cool and superchargers are sweet, then both of them together...  Swool?  Cweet?  I dunno, but it's badass however you wanna word it.  I would love for WRC to have a no-holds-barred class like Group B again, just to see what kinda madness the automakers could create with today's technology.


MartinHsson Hell yeah.


@KSK the 037 wins it for me too, Peugeot on a close second. All the other cars had, while still really great, some flaws. The S1 was hopelessly noseheavy, the S4 was a deathtrap and so on. But choosing between all those cars is hard.


Yes the Audi.. :) However the poll creator should have listed more under the Audi flag. Audi A1 , Audi A2, Audi S1 and the Audi S1 E2 are variations of the iconic car. And YES AUDI because this was the car that started the first All Wheel Drive in Group B and gave us the most magical 3 years in Rallying ever ! Now with that said all of the rest Group B cars are equally on the want list, But it is truely Audi that is the reason for Group B.


Simply P You are correct about that the Delta S4 is twincharged. About the modern WRC the only thing I can say is that I don't know the turbo pressure of todays WRC but the old WRC with the 2.0L engine ran 9bar in turbo pressure, and with official numbers of 650nm of torque, but a friend of mine worked as a mechanic in WRC for a year, the real number was a whopping 900nm. So there is a lot of power even with a 34mm restrictor on the turbo.


tbtstt Masterwana   I have this book signed by John Buffum and Bobby Unser ( Both in the book )  One of the better books covering the history of the Audi Sport rally days :)


Rally43 Because the Audi is the first car that comes to mind for most when Group B is mentioned, I'll give you that it is the "Most Significant Group B Car".  But sorry, the "Greatest Group B Car" is still the S4.  0-60 in less than three seconds?  ON GRAVEL?!  Capable of turning in laps that would qualify on a Formula One grid at the time?  That's greatness. 

I love the Audi too (as I do all Group B cars), but the S4 was simply a technological marvel of a car, and years ahead of the Audi (and everyone else).  What Audi had was a better racing program, not the better car.


Simply P Rally43   The article syas "Seeing as there were so many cars in Group B (much more than you would think), we’ve cherry picked our favourites below and thought we’d let you vote on which one you love the most. "   So based on public desire and recognition, I think Audi is most recognized .  Hard to define any of the Grp B as being the best as they all had unique engineering in some form.  They are all great and in their own way the best..


Rally43 Simply P Most famous, least successful or am I wrong? (speaking of the S1 E2)


Rally43 You're totally right, don't think I'm arguing with you (your screenname and avatar indicate I'd be boxing above my weight class to do so), but from a car guy perspective, subtracting everything else about the cars, teams, programs, drivers, etc, the S4 is the superior car to the Audi.


Simply P Rally43  I am partial to Audi and for full disclosure thats my car in the avatar , but do recognize that there were superior cars to Audi in developement later on in the Grp b years. @MartinHsson  The Audi S1 E2 was a late developed car and did not compete as much as the previous evolutions such as A1 & A2 which had the most WRC wins together...


Rally43 Simply P Okey, I'm just curious because I'm born in the 90's so the only knowledge of Group B I got is through some books, movies and what friends know, but I'm happy to have seen most of them live on the move on Rally Legend and Eifel-Rallye(it's my photo of the S1 E2 on the IATS rally theme).


MartinHsson Rally43 Simply P   There are a few real ex actories car here in North America , but most of them are in Europe. Wish we had events like that here . I hear Eifel rally is the best event to attend .


no Lancia Stratos? wow...speedhunters indeed...


fast4wrd  List of Group B Cars
There was even a Group B Truck in that list ;)


fast4wrd Easily the best looking rally car of all time, but it wasn't a Group B car, and as such doesn't qualify for this poll.


Rally43 MartinHsson Simply P Eifel is really good and I can really recommend it, but in there isn't many Lancia's but very much Audi's. On Rally Legend there is more Lancia's but not much Audi's on the other hand, but more Group A/early WRC cars to if you find that interesting.


The Lancia S4 was brutal


fast4wrd Stratos was (still is) an incredible looking rally car (and one of just three cars designed from the ground up purely for rallying), but its Group 4, not Group B! ;)


Rally43  Masterwana Very cool! All the McKlein rally books are excellent: their Group B book has provided me many hours of reading!


Rally43 Agreed. Listing the S1 only was a bit restrictive, especially as the A1 and A2 were looked upon more favorably by the drivers.


Simply P Rally43 Ha, I think you are both right! Its so hard to determine "most significant". Without the Audi though, there would have been no S4, so I'm still sticking with the Audi as the "more significant" car.
Between the two, I also just (JUST!) prefer the sound of an Audi on full chat: I think its one of the most iconic engine notes in rally. Though that's probably a debate for another poll...


tbtstt Simply P Rally43  Yep agreed.. Mine has the 20 v and screams up in the rpm's , but the 10v had to the most unique sound. The lehman engines sounded the best.....


MartinHsson Simply P  9 bar is 130psi. The S4 engine was tested in lab once for strength at up to 5 bar (70ish psi) to make around 1000hp but in race trim the S4 saw 2.2bar  or 32psi.


majik16106 MartinHsson Simply P That is some very impressive numbers for sure, what I have heard is that they thought of have it on full boost for Finland in 1986 in their head car(Toivonen) but there was a small problem with that after Corsica... R.I.P Harri&Sergio


I guess they don't know Group B if the Lancia Delta S4 isn't right at the top. This might be due to Audi being very savvy promoting the Quattro in the States, *shrugs*


Lancia, the Audi is cool, but plays second fiddle to the delta


I am going with other for the Ferrari 288gto which was intended for Group B and its road racing variant class. It was also the car the spawned the super car era, To be honest though all of these cars should get a vote as they all brought something to the game. That has greatly fueled our car world over the years.


My favourite will always be the Lancia Rally 037, in Totip livery, just so cool from every angle


It has to be the monstrous Audi S1. I mean, if Satan had been a rally driver, the S1 would have been his car : scary looking, flames spitting and the noise ... what kind of hellish beast is under that hood ? And it was a game changer with the quattro system.


A couple I quite like but were never use in competition -
323 GTR Sport 4 Concept -
Daihatsu Charade 926R (this is where the GTti engine came from) -


Normally the answer is always Quattro, but I have a love affair with the 205 T16 that I can't shake. If I had a second vote I'd go Quattro.


My top 3:
1 - 205 T16
2 - Delta S4
3 - Quattro S2


The lack of 6R4 love is saddening.


The S4, supercharged AND turbo: anything else?


The S4, the hero car that italian petrolheads use to remind the world how great we were in the past.
And to remind us how shitty we are these days.


erikig Technically, the Group B 959 was actually a 911 and the first true rally car 959 only appeared on the Paris Dakar in 1985.


PaddyMcGrath Paddy, Is the cover photo above one of AM Cars ( Adam Marsden ) rally cars ?


As a Lancia Delta owner and die hard fan my vote is pretty clear. Although as much as I would like to put my vote on the S4 I'm going for the 037 since it took the constructors title in -83 beating the Audi quattros  and becoming the last rear wheel drive car to ever win the championship.


tbtstt Masterwana  Ah thanks,
 here we are allways call them UrQuattro an Quattro.


MartinHsson Source for that comment about the double clutch gearbox?  I've not seen anything to suggest twin clutch boxes were used in Group B rally (Porsche developed the first twin clutch gearbox for sportscar racing, starting in '81 and having a reliable race winning version by '85 (more than anything to prevent the chance of a driver missing a gear and over reving the engine)).
Perhaps you are confusing the term "double clutch" meaning rev-matching used with dog engagement (non synchromesh) gearboxes?
A very cool video, nevertheless.


The Audi is an amazing car, but if the voters ever heard & felt a Lancia Rally 037 rumble by, they'd know it's something different. A fiberglass hand grenade - Dangerous beyond measure. The Lancia was the demon of Gruppe B, that needed to be killed.


The Quattro wins the popularity contest by far, but I do have a soft spot for the Lancia, Renault and especially the FB RX-7. Thanks for that crazy video, made my day.


205 t16 was the greatest of them all


The_Stig_Farmer No doubt it is a classic (and an incredible sounding car), but it was one of the least competitive Group B rally cars, which is why I personally wouldn't pick it. 
 Like the RS200, rallycross is where the Metro 6R4 really shone.


For me the RS200 is a no brainer. It didn't have time to prove itself on rally but later rallycross performance showed it's true potential. In many ways the RS200 represented the next generation of group B. Packaging was highly innovative with the gearbox in the front. Also the kevlar chassis and the looks are on another level compared to the competition.


I dont know if it counts but the Ferrari 288 GTO group B spec


I'm a bit biased, but the Mitsubishi Galant VR4 is my greatest Group B.


Sorry chap but the Galant was never used in group B, it arrived a bit late for that.  Mitsubishi did have a bash at a group B car with the Starion 4x4 -


funky29 If it completed one race then YES! What about the Porsche 959?


kamenkachev You mean the Quattro S1? I'm sure the S2 was not a Group B rally car...


RacingPast kamenkachev Yes definitely the S1, I probably meant EVO 2


As an Audi quattro & Lancia owner (sold my '83 Urq last year & kept my 4000CS quattro project ex-LeMons car, Lancia is an old Flavia coupe) I'm really torn because I love both companies' products for much the same reason: innovative engineering & build quality.  There have admittedly been some stinkers from both camps, but these aren't them. 
The sound & sheer, angular,  brute force violence of the quattros is totally ridiculous, a great big hammer with a nuke under the hood & (in S2 guise) with wings everywhere in a futile attempt to keep it earthbound.  I mean, the antilag system dumped raw fuel into the hot side of the turbo! The 5 cyl howl will forever be "the" rally sound for me; my Urq had a straight pipe for awhile & it never got old.  I was just old enough as a kid to catch what there was of them on TV & loved them even then, and owning one didn't diminish that.  Such is not always the case when one meets or drives their heroes.  
The Delta S4 (and arguably the Peugeot 205T16 not on the list?) has to be considered the technical peak, but was a direct reaction to the new AWD paradigm established by the Audis.  And they certainly can't be considered beautiful of line any more than the Audis can. The Lancia S4 is unquestionably stunning technically, but is pretty ungainly physically.  Eye of the beholder & all that...  
For sheer bonkers greatness & beauty in the face of convention, the 037 has my vote.  Lancia saw the future, said "fuck it", and came up with the rightful successor to the Stratos, one of the best looking competition cars of all time, from any discipline. Then they got Walter Rohrl to drive it. There's a classic slow-mo clip of an 037 at full tilt, airborne, sideways glory between walls of spectators on an old Group B VHS tape I have, shooting flames & all, and it's just wonderful.


Even with Audi 4WD system, their car was never properly suited to group B. It was to production based. The mid engined weapons from Peugeot and later Lancia were far more inline with what Group B called for. 
Still, Lancia 2WD 037 will forever be the car that made my eyes grow 4 inches tall when i saw it for the first time Sega Rally 2.


Incorrect. VR4 was never homologated for Group B.


Ferrari knew they didn't have the funds so they didn't even try with the 288 GTO or 288 GTO EVO.


Was the pig of the field. Overweight with a weight distribution more suited to NASCAR.


Group 4 does not = Group B


Mitsubishi Starion 4WD... The Phantom Group B car like the other Ferrari 288 GTO & Porsche 959


Do you also want me to pick my favorite child?  I refuse to participate in this exercise.


I think that what makes a Group B Audi S1 or a Lancia Delta S4 or a Metro 6R4 or any other Group B monster great. is not just the incredible speeds that they could achive, but the sounds that they made!
You knew an Audi was approaching. With a wiz, pop and a bang from it trubo charged five cycled engine.
Then to be blessed with a shower for dirt, as the demi god of a driver, diftered within inches of where you stood.
I wish to that those demi god that became mortal and paid such a high price with their lives, would forever be remembered.
...and likes of still born monsters, the Porsche 959 and Ferrari 280 GTO could have had a chance to breath.
Thank you Group B for madness, brilliance, but short rein.


Strange how the Peugeot 206 T16 is 4th and a long ways off the lead, yet statistically it was the most dominate Group B car; the only one to win 2 championships. Still though, the Delta S4 was the epitome of a Group B car. It is a Delta too... only it isn't. The Lancia Delta was a naturally aspirated, front-engined, 4-door. However, the S4 was a 2-door that was mid-engined and the engine was mounted on its side and it was supercharged and turbocharged (a world first) and it had an eccentric body and a different wheel base and the fuel tank was located under the driver seat. The S4 clearly wasn't a Delta, and that's why Group B is so great :D


 I agree with you. It was the madness of it all.
Chuck the rule book out of the window type mentality, gone completely ,'bonkers', that made Group B so unforgettable!
Unfortunately this has been lacking in the sport ever science.

But wait!!

The French with their chain smoking engineers, from Peugeot and Citroen, come to the rescue!
Pikes Peak!
Race to the Clouds.

Taking it to the Americans. In their own back yard of all places. Nineteen miles of tarmac and I can't remember how many corners. Under ten minutes? That's easy! Watch.
The Peugeot 206 T16. How ironic!

Thank you Peugeot!
Thank you Mr Loeb!
Thank you Red Bull!


Besides Pikes Peak, is there any other racing event to keep the wonderfully mad memories of Group B alive?


Bozzie  rallycross is the easy answer. An RS200 and a 6R4 were raced pretty recently in the British RallyX championship. The same 6R4 I think is currently ran in the Retro RallyX Challenge.

Then there's the one-off events like Rallyday and the Goodwood FoS.