The Group B era produced unforgettable road cars. Simon Charlesworth straps himself into contenders from Peugeot, Austin Rover, Ford and Audi
Mention its name and there is a twinkle in the eyes, followed by a smile. Speaking to Alex Karidis, owner of the featured Peugeot 205 T16 and Ford RS200, it is clear that Group B left an impression: “I lived through that era and went to a rally or two. People don’t understand now but, at the time, these cars were rock stars – they were bigger than F1. It was stupendous, such a buzz.
“I remember sitting at the traffic lights in my little Honda, when a works RS200 pulled up next to me with a T16. When they shot off, it was ‘Wow!’ It was in between stages on the Acropolis Rally and they were putting on a bit of a show. It was incredible to see them on the road.”
The regulations (see page 101) were few, free and easy. Engines migrated from front to rear-mid locations. There wasn’t a limit on power or boost or fuel. Advanced lightweight composite materials were encouraged, and upgraded ‘Evo’ models were also permitted annually.
The resultant spectacle was awe-inspiring. Mighty power. Mind-numbing acceleration. Huge speed. Heroic crews. Spine-tingling soundtracks. Wide-bodied machines dancing on the edge of control – and all coinciding with improved television coverage. Little wonder the fans went crazy. In places, crowds swarmed stages, playing chicken, getting plastered in dust and trying to touch the cars.