Stunning collection of Group B rally cars hits the market for first time

by Gary Axon
15 January 2021 2 min read
Stunning collection of Group B rally cars hits the market for first time
Photos: Artcurial

Ordinarily each February the great and the good and plenty of dyed-in-the-wool petrolheads descend on Paris and walk through the turnstiles at the Retromobile show. But as with so much else, Retromobile has been postponed, to June. So Artcurial, which hosts one of the highlight auctions at Retromobile, has taken matters into its own hands and next month will producing a one-off “La Parisienne” auction on-line, featuring a feast of Group B rally cars.

An impressive 42 exceptional historic car lots are on offer at La Parisienne, including the Matra MS 670 with which Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972. With a pedigree like that, it’s little wonder the Matra boasts an estimated value of at least £3.5 million (€4 million). 

Matra MS 670_Artcurial

Yet star billing arguably goes to a cluster of Group B era rally cars that come from the impressive museum collection of the Manoir de l’Automobile de Lohéac in Brittany, France. While all will require recommissioning, it’s a small price to pay for those who treasure these fire-breathing machines, which were the most exciting competition cars of the 1980s, and would go on to be outlawed following a series of fatal accidents.

These seven exceptional rally cars were carefully collected by two motor racing enthusiasts, Michel Hommell, founder of the Manoir de l’Automobile de Lohéac and a magazine publishing magnate in France, and Olivier Quesnel, former Competition Director of both Peugeot and Citroën. The collection was put together soon after the banning of Group B rallying, in 1986.

The formidable machines are headed up by a 1988 Audi quattro Sport S1 which is estimated at a cool €1 million – €1.3 million (£890,000 – £1.12m). Yet unbelievably the car lacks any competition history. Instead, it was acquired directly from Audi Sport in 1986, by Olivier Quesnel. Apart from demonstration runs at the inaugural Race of Champions, where it was driven by Bruno Saby, Ari Vatanen and Michèle Mouton, it has never been driven in anger.

Peugeot 205 T16 Evo_Artcurial

Next is a 1985 Peugeot 205 T16 Evolution 2, which was driven in the World Rally Championship by Timo Salonen and Bruno Saby, with a high point being Saby’s second place at the ’85 Tour de Corse. You may be glad to know that the 500bhp mid-engined, four-wheel drive monster comes power steering, a late addition for the Evo 2 models. With an estimate of €600,000 – €800,000 (£534,000 – £712,000), it is the most costly of the seven Group B lots.

A 1986 Lancia Delta S4 Rallycross car, which found itself a victim of the Group B ban, ended up being campaigned in ice racing and rallycross by Bruno Saby. It is also estimated at €600,000 to €800,000 (£534,000 – £712,000).

1985 MG Metrol 6R4_Artcurial

Meanwhile, fans of the MG Metrol 6R4 will doubtless be interested to see a 1985 example offered for sale, which is said to have won the 1986 French Rally Championship, with Didier Auriel driving. It is estimated at €280,000 – €360,000 (£250,000 – €320,000).

Other models include a 1986 Ford RS200, campaigned by Stig Blomqvist and Kalle Grundel, (€250,000 – €400,000), a 1985 Renault 5 Maxi Turbo driven by Carlos Sainz (€400,000 – €600,000) and a 1985 Lancia Rallye 037 (€500,000 – €800,000) which, like the Renault 5, would find itself outclassed by the four-wheel drive machinery that came to define Group B rallying.

The Artcurial sale will be the first time that such an important and varied collection of authentic Group B cars will be auctioned off for many years. The sale is held online on Friday 5 February, and more details are available here, or you can browse the catalogue of entries by clicking here. Which one would you like to drive?

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