53B RS-Turbo: Un Hommage au Groupe B et aux années 1980
Some of you might remember me as the guy who took the Subaru world by storm with my Short-Wheelbased GD WRX STi in 2012. However, most know me as the owner and main author of the Rally Group B Shrine website and that obviously makes me one of the best Group B aficionado and connoisseur on the planet. As such, most of my peers surely expect someone like me to own or having built a faithful replica of my favourite Group B car… but the problem was that I loved too many of them! Alongside the Shrine, I have dedicated a good portion of my life to fabricating a rally car heavily inspired by my passion for Group B and to the decade I enjoyed the most. As a true testament to the 1980’s, this project was controversial and leaves most people scratching their heads – will you?
Recce RallySport owner, driver and fabricator
Rally Group B Shrine owner, chief editor and author
QUICK BROWSE CONTENT
- PROJECT DETAILS
- INVERNO TIME ATTACK (I-T/A) PROTOTYPE (2017)
- STRADALE CORSE (S/C) PROTOTYPE (2018)
- INVERNO CORSE (I/C) PROTOTYPE (2019)
- CORSE RS (C/RS) PROTOTYPE (2019)
- CORSE RS EVOLUTION (C/RS-E): RALLY PREPS (2020)
- C/RS-E: A SIMPLE TO RALLYING (2020)
- C/RS-E: THE DREAM YEAR CUT SHORT (2021)
- CONTACT ME
The story of this project ironically begins in the mid-2000’s when I had nearly all forgotten my love for Group B and the 1980’s, my cherished cars long sold, including an 1984 Audi Coupe quattro – dumb me! In short, it all boiled down to not having enough confidence in myself to go through with my aspirations. This unfortunately made me purchase newer, more reliable cars, hence draining my bank account considerably.
A few life changing events, including a tidal wave of nostalgia – call it a midlife crisis – kicked my arse very hard, finally giving me the willpower to make my dreams happen. The nostalgic link to the 1980’s, be it music, movies or cars is something that gives me much solace. With these personal moments, for mere seconds at a time, I am able to recall feelings of my youth; a time when everything felt better, when life was simpler, of when I didn’t have to worry about tomorrow. Their effect on me is overwhelmingly addictive.
But over 20 years had passed and most of my beloved 1980’s cars were long rusted-out and crushed by the indomitable salty Canadian winters. I thus fiddled with a newer Subaru for a good while, gaining valuable experience in every field of rally car fabrication and mechanics. Later, a chance encounter with a somewhat decently-preserved and low-priced Mk2 Volkswagen Scirocco made a reboot of the entire project possible. Deep study of Group B and tubular rally car design soon ensued, now culminating in over a decade of approximately 3,000 hours of work combined. Originally code-named the “Gruppe B”, I am proud to present to you what came out of all this immense effort: the 53B RS-Turbo 16v!
Calling it a simple tribute vehicle would be far too superficial since it is a proper old-school rally car with a lightweight tubular chassis, turbocharged engine and four-wheel drive drivetrain. The result is undeniably a 1980’s melting pot that includes elements of Group 5, Group B, movies such as Mad Max (for the prototypes), and more – albeit there exist an anachronism or two under its skin. Considering its aspirations the project itself is incredibly low budget and was mostly funded through parting out both donor cars of their unnecessary parts.
Of course, I do have my favourites in the world of Group B cars; which are the Audi Sport quattro E2 (and its Pikes Peak derivative) and the Lancia Delta S4 (and its rallycross derivative). These are obviously better represented in my project but the full list is quite extensive. However, it is important to note that copying them to the last detail never was the intent; I rather much preferred creating my own versions of these Group B features while adapting them to the base platform, with a slight hint of Group 5 mixed in, all the while designing it to be a real-world performer.
To achieve this, I first designed and fabricated a custom tubular space-frame to which I welded on the floorpan plus firewall, made brackets and installed the mechanical components. I chose to overbuild the chassis with larger diameter and heavier gauge tubing than most space-frame Group B cars. Albeit this added some weight, it was mostly done for a near maintenance-free chassis, plus some extra safety for my brittle bones! Ultimately, this step turned the car into a rolling “dune buggy” to which a body could then be fitted on. This “silhouette” procedure is similar to what some of the top tier Group B cars actually used and is of similar design to some commercial kit cars as well.
Afterwards came the countless hours of fabrication with the basic hand tools at my disposal. I also had some restoration work to perform on the Scirocco body since some areas were rotted out by rust. Leaving the rust on sure would have made tribute to Mad Max even better but the car would eventually need to pass tech so these spots were fixed. However, I left some of its minor inherent flaws (like wavy and/or warped panels due to chassis fatigue) to retain its history intact and keep the car looking 30 years old.
All of the bodywork modifications were made in the very same spirit of Group B; function first, form second, if it ends up looking good then it is only a bonus! However, immense care and devotion was taken to incorporate and marry as much different Group B features as possible in a comprehensive and performing package.
This was all not for show as I’ve put incredible amounts of time in the “think tank” when designing this car; every component was strategically placed to achieve a perfect 50/50 weight distribution (with crew) in a very short 89.0 inch wheelbase package, also marrying ease of service and adaptability to varying conditions and surfaces, hence creating a real rally car within the confines of what I had to work with. However, in the end I am only one person with one vision and a limited budget, but I think the result speaks for itself!
Maybe this next picture explains my challenge best:
A complete description of the build would obviously take way too long to detail but for the most part these following pictures will be self-explanatory to the builders of custom racing cars:
The 435 BHP 16v engine combined with 1090 kg weight, perfect 50/50 distribution (with crew), and (let’s be honest) a few touches of modern technology should make the car’s performance more than a match for most genuine Group B cars. With an ultimate goal of 550 BHP (with the Audi 5-cylinder 20v) paired with a metric tonne or less of weight, the project remained a work in progress for quite some time as I hoped to perform one major “evolution” each year, as was permitted by the Group B rules, and to possibly implement more 1980’s touches as long as they did not detract from performance.
I therefore dedicate the “53B RS-Turbo” (53 / mkII Gruppe B RallySport Turbo) to the exploits and sacrifice of the courageous drivers and co-drivers, imaginative engineers, hardy mechanics, and everyone involved in making what Group B was. I also much affectionately dedicate the car to every artist, actor/actress, musician, filmmaker, and everyone else responsible for shaping the 1980’s into the best decade to ever have been. Shall they be remembered forever!
Here’s a list of the features that were implemented into the project and their direct inspiration I used from actual Group B cars and 1980’s popular culture;
- front air dam / Audi Sport quattro E2 (main) & Lancia Delta S4 (front headlights “overbite”)
- front spoiler (I-T/A version) /Audi Sport quattro Pikes Peak (main) & MG Metro 6R4 (spoiler angle)
- front fenders / Audi Sport quattro E2 (main) & Toyota MR2 “222D” (vents)
- quadruple round headlights (replacing factory square / rectangular units for ease of replacement) / Lancia Delta S4, Lancia Rallye 037, Ford RS1700T, various others
- front turn signals left factory / various
- rear quarter intakes / mix of Audi Sport quattro E2 & Lada Samara EVA
- side skirts / mix of Audi Sport quattro E2 & Lancia Delta S4 (“floating chassis”)
- rear clamshell / mix of Lancia Delta S4 (main) & Audi Sport quattro E2 (dual rear vents), Renault 5 Maxi Turbo & Porsche 959 (rear fender vents)
- tail lights / Lancia Delta S4
- rear spoiler (I-T/A version) / Lancia Delta S4 Rallycross (main) & Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 (rod supports) & Group 5 (narrowed to stock body width)
- roof spoiler (S/C, I/C, C/RS versions) / Lancia Delta S4 proto
- rear “bumperless” & mudflaps (I-T/A version) / Lancia Delta S4 & Lancia Rallye 037
- rear bumper add-on (I/C version) / Lancia Delta S4
- “symmetrical side window lines” / Audi quattro
- roof line & intake / Lancia Delta S4 (main) & Ford RS200 (side shape)
- side quarter window panels (integrated canard ducts) / mix of Lancia Delta S4 & Citroën BX 4TC (shape)
- CB radio antennae position / MG Metro 6R4 & Opel Ascona B 400
- intercooler (AWIC heat exchanger in my case) position / Ford RS200
- rear radiator setup / Lada Samara EVA
- rear transverse muffler and dual exhaust pipes / Lancia Delta S4
- chassis construction / Lancia Delta S4 & Ford RS200 (rear), Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 (cabin and front section)
- shorter wheelbase / Audi Sport quattro (procedure) & Porsche 959 (@ 89 inches)
- interior / Audi quattro (dashboard), Lancia Delta S4 (accessories)
- black derelict paint and rough edges (all prototypes) / Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
- black and gold rally livery / Grifone Esso ERC ’85~’87 (all Evolution versions)
INVERNO TIME ATTACK (S-T/A) PROTOTYPE (2017)
The very first build of the car was specifically aimed for maximum performance / minimal weight in a deep snow rallycross (time-attack) setting. Preliminary testing of the prototype on a dry open tarmac circuit showed that the aerodynamic support was clearly noticeable and made the car dig in very aggressively in the corners (even if equipped with soft winter tyres) and that took much getting used to!
All was done in hopes to beat my own winter RX lap record at my usual snowy testing grounds.
This setup was expected to be eventually transformed for circuit time-attack / hill climb usage.
STRADALE CORSE (S/C) PROTOTYPE (2018-19) / Road and Rally
The unforeseen annulment of the winter testing forced me to begin working on the road / stage rally version of the car much sooner than expected. In early March of 2018 the car was finally ready to legally hit the streets. It was thus necessary to make the car more street-friendly by replacing and removing some of the more aggressive parts. It is however note to mention that everything was made modular to quickly allow the switching back and forth between versions of the car.
While the I-T/A version focused primarily on maximum performance and minimal weight for a snow time-attack setting, the S/C version was fitted with a passenger seat, as low down and back as possible for a co-driver ride along, jack and tools, partial rally equipment such as a fire extinguisher and camera mount, CB radio, and other amenities such as custom polycarbonate sun-visors and a secondary heater.
Notable exterior changes were the front spoiler delete, revised front air dam (now in 2-piece), rear spoiler delete replaced by a new adjustable roof spoiler, and rear bumper. All necessary lighting was added such as backup lights, 3rd brake light, dual bulb marker / turn signals, and made fully functional via load resistors. The license plate position was chosen to mirror the vintage offset placement of event plates such as the Monte Carlo Rally.
Mechanically the car is identical minus the exhaust bypass plate and suspension settings. Chassis-wise it is also identical minus the addition of jacking point tabs. It drives phenomenally civil considering its raw nature albeit the high torque capacity clutch is at times difficult to finesse at traffic lights. The car begs for speed and is an obvious head-turner.
Late summer brought fortune with imported tarmac wheels from Europe, featuring a vintage aero design paired with the look of BBS cooling disc add-ons of the late 70s and 80s racing cars – giving the car a more aggressive stance and corner-hugging abilities. These wheels also add the possibility of using 275-wide tyres in the future. Re-installation of the adjustable sway bars yielded more confident handling amidst the suspension’s modest all-purpose camber settings.
Once more, further refinements were made to the car such as reworked suspension settings, better weatherization, unused frontal grille block-off plates, rear mudflap holders, a new hydraulic handbrake system, and the addition of fully-plumbed (ducts to spindles) air cooling for the brakes at all four corners.
INVERNO CORSE (I/C) (2019)
Winter of 2019 brought the opportunity for actual snow testing at the track, the latter being no longer prepped in the frigid season – meaning that the car had to forcibly plow through six to twelve inches of snow and, by doing so lap after lap, creating a more suitable surface to run on. The air dam, borrowing a similar design to the Audi Sport quattro S1 E2, was originally made out of aluminium for such a snow-plowing purpose – while of course aiding with downforce in other environments.
Amazingly enough, minus a rod of one of the rear mudflap holders that broke off and some minor cracking of the air dam joints, everything held up quite well to the 20+ laps heavy abuse – including, to much awe, the front lip under the front air dam.
The addition of “nun hat ears” similar to those of the Delta S4, which on my car were set-up as vortex generators rather than air ducts, proved not to be very effective and as such were permanently removed from all prototype versions. Nonetheless, the apparent ruggedness and speed of the overall design used in this test session brings the project ever closer to its final shape when maintenance will be the only item left on the to-do list – even though that is years away!
CORSE RS (C/RS) PROTOTYPE (2019)
The advent of spring meant some more hard work had to be done to further improve and bring it ever closer to its final rally specifications. Chassis-wise the suspension was re-balanced with more aggressive tarmac-oriented camber settings, also hoping to help even out tyre wear. An aluminium skidplate system was created to improve undercarriage protection and overall aerodynamics with a subtle integrated rear diffuser. It was painted blue to tribute Peugeot’s own undercarriage theme in their 205 T16.
Bodywork saw some revisions as well. The front air dam was revised yet again, starting by rounding off the front corners to make the unit more street friendly but more importantly improving its tight corner-cutting abilities for rallies. Strakes were added to the front fenders and air dam to help streamlining and overall downforce generation of the design – most will recall seeing this on the legendary Audi Sport quattro E2.
There’s also the obvious presence of a set of four vintage Bosch Rallye spot lamps – as used on Audi quattros of the period and imported from Europe to some expense. While the bodywork is closing on its final testing phase and form, I decided to tribute my old “WaBi~SaBi” project with thin red line accents – may it not be forgotten as the stepping stone that made the current car possible.
The car was then at a point where any drastic improvements would have to wait until the planned Audi 5-cylinder transplant due to time and budget constraints; engine rebuild / build, adaptor plate, new front subframe with accommodating clamshell bodywork, fuel cell(s), and updating certain safety equipment. It would have been a huge package of mods which most likely would have sidelined the car for about a year, possibly more, making the decision not to rush it and postpone the project for a year or two a logical one.
CORSE RS EVOLUTION (C/RS-E) (2020): RALLY PREPS
Having decided to postpone the engine swap for at least two years while I gathered parts and funds, it was finally time to try and rally the car.
It began with joining my former rally club and updating myself in the latest CARS rules (Canadian Association of Rally Sport). Past this, a condescending Regional President, blasé pencil-pushers and main series sponsors had too much say in the rulebook and outlawed the car for any regional or national championships. No matter, I figured that with my older age and tight budget it would be reasonable to begin at the bottom and work my way back up again.
I therefore went in search of a co-driver (navigator) that would be interested in jumping into the fray with me. I first asked my childhood friend and fellow rally fan but he refused due to family and budget concerns. Then I asked a former co-worker with disposable income and who’s generally quite enthusiastic about trying out fun things. The answer was yes, albeit this person turned out to be a complete bust in the car.
For the first official “evolution” of the car, I began with finalising the rear section, which included fabricating a dust shield for the top of the fuel tank, new height adjustable strut mounts and better splash guards.
The rear updates done, I proceeded to the disassembly of the interior cabin – which was very spartan and hastily made in Wabi-Sabi days. Having a modern instrument cluster and ragtag switch panel just didn’t cut it anymore, especially for the rallying ambitions. I obviously was inspired by the overall theme of the Audi quattro (simple steel panel) with 1980’s looking instruments from VDO, with a slight touch of Lancia Delta S4 mixed in – however adapted to my needs and preferences.
The whole thing was a labour of love netting in a dash wiring system requiring only 6 connectors to disconnect and 8 screws to pull the whole dashboard out of the car.
Other rally essentials nested in the doors feature a basic tool kit, recovery cable (tow strap), first aid kit, hazard triangles, zip-tie bundles, tape, and window-breakers / belt cutters.
The only thing left to do was choose an historical livery for the car. There weren’t much widespread black liveries in the Group B days, except Will Gollop’s Sikolene black/red/gold in rallycross, and the Grifone Esso black/gold most famously run by Italian Fabrizio Tabaton in the ERC; including the Lancia Rallye 037, Delta S4 and Delta HF. This livery was always one of my favourites and I didn’t want to change the base colour of the car so it was an easy choice. While I adapted the Grifone Esso livery to my own taste, I also kept available space for legit sponsorship, like on the doors and bonnet (hood).
Before painting, I reinforced and fixed all of the cracks in the clamshell and body panels that these past years of testing unearthed. After, I purposely added some defects to the bodywork at key points. Why? Group B rally cars were mostly handmade and rather rough even when brand new. Anyone who has seen a genuine one in person knows this: they are tattered to hell. I somewhat simulated the same treatment to add some legitimacy that it is a real 80’s rally car but one that was also run and maintained by a privateer over the years. This was my choice, not that I would not have been able to do showroom quality bodywork – I did that on the “phase 2” version of my former Wabi~Sabi project – and it simply wasn’t warranted on this one!
While I can say mission accomplished for this penultimate stage of the overall project, I must obviously state that the COVID-19 thing did mess up the plans for rallying for 2020. It did however give me time to finish the car properly without stress: overshooting the original deadline by three weeks. Meanwhile, I couldn’t pass up the opportunities to show the car off to some “fans”!
THE DÉFI RALLY-X: A SIMPLE RETURN TO RALLYING (2020)
With a few training sessions with my novice codriver under our belt, I was somewhat confident that we would make a nice showing at my first rally event after 20 years of absence. Unfortunately, the codriver was unable to take the pacenotes on the first stage recce, which was also very rough, and this put us at a clear disadvantage since that stage would be run 4 times due to very heavy rain. The car’s suspension was also set up too stiff for such a rough and tumble stage which didn’t help matters. The second stage was however much smoother and we did have pacenotes but my codriver thought at one point that we veered off the route (even though we didn’t). We did manage 3rd best time though. Here’s the video from inside the car:
A timing error by codriver later cost us a 30 second penalty which, on such a short event, dropped us way down the standings. The car did perform well overall and I managed to get some of my rally wits back. In the end it was a fun event nonetheless and gave me hope that, despite COVID, there would be more rallies ahead.
This rally however signaled the end for my codriver, who admitted that this sport wasn’t for her since she had much trouble to quickly make calculations – not to mention falling asleep near the end of a navigation event a few months prior. I thus went in search of a new codriver… which turned out not to be as easy as it sounds!
C/RS-E: THE DREAM YEAR CUT SHORT (2021)
(details coming soon)
***all specifications subject to change***
|Class/State||Group B / 1980’s tribute||Current state: Corse RS-E (rally) / Audi 5-cylinder turbo 20V rebuild|
|Project Years / Evolutions||Experimentation phases (2007~2015)|
Initial prototype build (2016~2017)
Prototype Evolution (2018~2019)
Rally Evolution (2020~now)
Total hours: 3,500 (2020)
|Inverno Time-Attack (I-T/A) Proto (2017)|
Stradale Corse (S/C) Proto (2018)
Inverno Corse (I/C) Proto (2019)
Corse RS (C/RS) Proto (2019)
Corse RS-E (2020)
|Type||H-4, DOHC 16v, pump gas (to be replaced)|
I-5, AAN, DOHC 20v, gas (planned)
2226 cc (planned)
|Power/Torque||435 HP @ 6900 rpm / 91 octane fuel|
TBA – 550 HP (planned)
|361 lb-ft @ 5100 rpm / 91 octane fuel|
cast iron (Audi)
|Cylinder Head: aluminium|
|Aspiration & Injection||TD05 Turbocharger|
mid-mounted Air to Water Intercooler heat exchanger / front-mid mounted core (AWIC)
|Audi: TBA Turbocharger mid-mounted Air to Water Intercooler heat exchanger / front-mid mounted core (AWIC) (planned)|
|Ignition||electronic, firing order 1-3-2-4||Audi: TBA 1-2-4-5-3|
|Lubrication System||wet sump|
front-mounted oil cooler
dry sump (planned)
rear-mounted oil cooler (planned)
|Cooling System||water-cooled, rear-mounted|
|Type||four-wheel drive (4WD/AWD)||6-speed manual gearbox|
custom machined aluminium adaptor plate (AAN)
|Gearbox Ratios||1st: 3.636|
|longitudinal, shortened and balanced driveshaft|
|Differential Ratios||3.90||dual limited-slip with standalone driver controlled centre differential (35-65% to 50/50% lock front to rear ratios)|
|Clutch||dry single plate / 600 lb-ft capacity|
|Type||fully custom spaceframe chassis, partial GD floorpan and firewall, integrated steel roll-cage, sealed cabin with rear bulkhead, Scirocco Mk2 body with custom wide arch panels, polycarbonate side and rear screens, custom rear clamshell with integrated roof scoop and cooling ducts, “flat bottom” skidplate system.(I-T/A Proto): rear bumper delete, front aluminium “snowplow” air dam with integrated canards and optional spoiler, large overhang rear spoiler.(S/C Proto): polymer rear bumper, street-legal lighting, modified “snowplow” 2-piece front air dam with spoiler delete, large dual roof spoiler.(I/C Proto): same as S/C plus rear quarter side panels with integrated canards.|
|Front Suspension||independent, MacPherson 32-way adjustable struts, coil-over springs, optional and adjustable sway bar.|
|Rear Suspension||independent, dual lateral links, trailing arms, coil-over springs, 32-way adjustable struts, optional and adjustable sway bar.(dual struts planned in future evolution)|
|Steering System||rack and pinion, hydraulic power assistance with optional cooler||12.0:1 (2 turns lock to lock)|
Brembo 4 piston calipers with 326 mm slotted & vented rotors (tarmac)
FHI 4 piston calipers with 294 mm slotted & vented rotors (gravel/snow)
Brembo 2 piston calipers with 316 mm slotted & vented rotors (tarmac)
FHI 2 piston calipers with 290 mm vented rotors (gravel/snow)
|dual circuit with optional vacuum assistance|
adjustable F/R ratio
vertical hydraulic handbrake
fully plumbed air cooling (ducts to spindles) front and rear
S/C, I/C, C/RS: 155.0 inches / 3940 mmI-T/A (F spoiler edge to R spoiler edge): 176.0 inches / 4470 mm
72.0 inches / 1830 mm
without roof spoiler: 55.0 inches / 1400 mm
with roof spoiler: 58.25 inches / 1480 mm
89.0 inches / 2260 mm
|front track: |
62.0 inches / 1575 mm
|rear track: |
61.8 inches / 1570 mm
|Rims – Tires||Tarmac:|
Aero 14-JR 15×8
fifteen52 Integrale Gravel
235/60R15 BFG (street)
195/70R15 Pirelli K4
195/65R15 GT Arctic
|Dry/Unladen Weight||I-T/A: 1090 kg / 2,400 lb|
S/C: 1080 kg / 2,380 lb
I/C: 1085 kg / 2,390 lb
C/RS-E: 1000 kg / 2,200 lb
|Bias: F/R 50% (with crew) (all)|
|Weight/Power||2.3 kg/HP (5.1 lb/HP)|
|Fuel Tank||40 litres / custom high-capacity fuel cell (planned)|
|Top Speed||260 kph (160 mph) *est with current gearing|