OCT 12th 2015

Group B Homologation Cars ‑ which one should you buy?


On reflection, if we’re all honest about it, the Group B rally regulations of the mid-Eighties were only ever going to last so long. The immense power of the cars, the proximity of the crowds, the calibre of the drivers at the time and the high stakes created by manufacturers who’d invested so heavily in search of success meant that everything and everyone was operating at full chat, all the time …

Festival of Speed Revival Promo

The limits were of course pushed and a handful of tragedies forced the FIA to act, banning Group B for 1987. It the wake of its demise, the cars became the stuff of legend. Some went on to be used in the more controlled environment of European Rallycross for a number of years to great effect. Watch the clip below to see what we mean.

This was simply epic entertainment. At this stage the cars were little more than obsolete racing machines with relatively little value and no likely future after a couple of seasons of this treatment, very much like the Shelby American Daytona Coupes that were here at the Revival. It is unlikely, however, that once their careers were over they were offered to team members for $800 like the Daytonas were …

Peugeot mirrored its dominance in rallying by winning the first four European Rallycross championships, but by 1993 Group B gave way to Group N and once again the be-winged monsters fell silent, with the notable exception of the Metro 6R4 which still competes in Clubman rallying to this day. 

But what of the rest? What of the road-going examples built for homologation purposes? Also, what kind of prices do they change hands for? We managed to find some examples that have never seen rallying duty and are either currently for sale or which were sold recently. The answer is a bit of a surprise …

We’ve decided to stick to the four main, purpose-built protagonists in the form of the Peugeot 205 T16, Lancia Delta S4, Metro 6R4 and Ford RS200. Despite being such an iconic car we’ve not included the Audi Quattro Sport, because unlike the others it was based on a production car floorpan and although it introduced the rallying world to four-wheel-drive, for the two main years of Group B (1985 and 1986) it was way off the pace and won only one event. 

Group B Metro

So let’s kick off with the Metro. This example was sold recently by a specialist, features a freshly-built 395bhp version of the howling atmospheric V6, has barely covered more than 4,000 miles and was apparently in superb order. The asking price was a rather modest £74,995. Despite some wonderful engineering by Williams the car never had the level of power enjoyed by its contemporaries and the 6R4 racked up just the one podium place in the hands of Tony Pond over its Group B career. 

Group B RS200

Currently for sale is this Ford RS200, which will be sold by auction at the H&H Imperial War Museum Sale at Duxford on the 14th October. The RS200 was famously late to the whole Group B party and, like the Metro it only ever made one podium appearance, but had the car continued to be developed for the 1987 season the consensus is that it would have been a contender. This one has spent the majority of its life in the States and has benefited from a power upgrade (up to 350bhp). The current mileage is a still-youthful 11,400 and the upper estimate is £150,000. It’s a very cool car and the estimate would appear to be about right, but double the money you’d need for a 6R4? It makes the next car something of a bargain.

Group B Peugeot 205

Of all the fabled machinery that was flung around the world’s rally stages, (and despite legendary status being rightly afforded to the Quattro Sport, the RS200 and the Lancia Delta S4) the record books show an incontrovertible story. When the Group B dust had settled there was one car which proved itself to be a superior machine to the others and that was the Peugeot 205 T16. After a rocky start to its life Peugeot persevered and with none other than Jean Todt heading up the operation the little Pug won the most coveted Group B championships – those from 1985 and 1986. This one was Peugeot’s Italian Press Office demonstrator and, unlike the two other cars we’ve looked at so far, it would appear still to be running as a bog-standard homologation car with ‘just’ 197bhp and no modifications. It was sold recently for an undisclosed fee after appearing at auction with an upper estimate of £150,000.

Group B Lancia Delta

So, the signs are that if you want a first class example of a Group B homologation car then you’re going to have to pay something in the region of £150,000, right? Wrong. Mint examples of Lancia’s Delta S4 Stradale have always commanded a premium and there’s no sign of that situation letting up. We found this gorgeous example at London specialist Joe Macari Performance Cars. It was sold recently – we know not how much for – but the asking price was £240,000. Bear in mind however that this was a very special ‘better than new’ example with much work completed and that it is reckoned that significantly fewer S4s remain compared to the other cars mentioned here.

Group B Lancia

It would appear then that the best car on the rally stages is in fact not the most expensive to acquire thirty years later as a road car, although the Lancia would appear to be the most rare and the one best equipped for road duty. But which one should you get? The answer is: Any of them. Here’s why:

Octane magazine said of the Audi Sport Quattro some years back: ‘We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again; one day these cars are going to rival vintage Bugattis for desirability…They have an unimpeachable motorsport heritage.’ In 2013 Bonhams sold a beautiful homologation Sport Quattro for £115,740 all-in and in January this year RM Sothebys sold a similar car for £261,432. The Group B cars’ values are on the rise and there’s every possibility that by the end of the decade one of them (probably a Lancia?) will sell for $1,000,000 (around £650,000).

So whether your taste is for a 6R4, T16, S4 or RS200, the signs are that you can’t really miss. What’s important isn’t which one you acquire, but how soon you can do so …

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