The golden age of European rallying was without doubt the ‘70s through to the early ’90s. From the glory days of the RAC Rally, that saw Ford Escorts sliding around soggy British stages, to the wild turbo-powered Group B era where four-wheel drive, huge horsepower and four rings ruled them all. Finally onto the nineties where past masters Lancia made way for the new school in the form of Japanese makers Toyota, Subaru and Mitsubishi.
At The Fast Car Festival we’re celebrating a time when rallying was simpler, faster and more dramatic! The Melbourne Loop section of Donington will be popping and banging to the sounds of anti-lag equipped monsters such as the Peugeot 205 T16, Toyota Celica and Ford Sierra Cosworth taking on a special stage all weekend. We have teamed up with Rallying History, an MSA Rally Club of rally car owners who like nothing more than taking their pride and joys around a stage at full throttle!
In addition to the Group B superstars like a pair of MG Metro 6R4s, an Audi Quattro and a Ford RS200 we also have a selection of their rear-wheel drive predecessors. The Ford Escort makes an appearance as does the Lancia Fulvia HF1600 and even a Fifties VW Beetle! It’s safe to say that we’re showcasing the widest range of rally cars seen in action at any UK show this summer. Here are a few more details about some of the headline cars that we’re bringing you;
MARK HOLMES – MG METRO 6R4
A genuine MG Metro 6R4 this car has been owned by Mark Holmes for the past 8 years. It now features a 2.5-litre V6 motor with the original dogleg ‘box. It’s competed in many rallies over the years with a few outright wins on single venue events, such as the Birmingham Superprix back in the ‘80s. It was then written off and re-shelled after a big ‘off’ on the 1988 Welsh Rally.
The car spent some time over in Ireland before returning again to England for a full nut and bolt rebuild around 15 years ago. It also entered the Rally Tansmiera in 2015. Mark carries out all the repairs himself, including the engine, and he hopes to keep it for many more years!
WARNER LEWIS – TOYOTA CELICA GT4
An original works car used by Armin Swartz on the ‘92 Acropolis Rally where it left a stage and ended up with Markku Alen going off on the same corner and landing on top of it! This car was re-shelled and used by Markku on the ‘92 RAC finishing in forth. It was used as a test car in ‘93 by the team but was then sold and subsequently converted to RHD before winning three Irish Championships.
The car was bought by its current owner Warner Lewis in 2006, by which time it was in a sorry state and needed to be re-shelled once again. Original works parts were located from all over the world and it was restored back to its ‘92 specification. It has since been re-united with Markku in 2014, at Rallyday, where he drove the car for the first time in over 20 years.
STUART INGHAM – TOYOTA CELICA GT4
This Celica was built in 2014 as a close replica of the TTE cars used in the 1995 World Rally Championship by the ‘94 Champion Dider Auriol and Juha Kankkunen. It’s fully FIA/MSA compliant and has competed on several stage rallies and demonstrations since being completed and has a 100 per cent finishing record.
Features of the car include a fully seam welded and strengthened shell, with a Custom Cages rollcage, fully forged engine internals, Link ECU with full anti-lag system, straight-cut close ratio gearbox and AVO suspension.
It also has many Group A parts including a bespoke side-exit exhaust, fuel filler, TTE replica carbon fibre mirrors, air box, lamp pod and cooling system.
BOB BEALES – VW BEETLE
A rather special Volkswagen, this Beetle is an Oettinger GT built in 1958. A former Bill Bengry car which was a backup during his British rally championship winning years of 1960 and 1961 its significance and historical importance is beyond any doubt.
Bob Beales, the car’s current owner bought it from Bill in 1966 and has used it in motorsport (road & forest rallies, Autocross, Autotest, PCT) ever since. In 1990 an Oettinger engine was fitted and the vehicle was put back to its historic specification.
This car won the Welsh Historic Rally Championship and has had a few outright wins on several other historic rallies and usually takes class wins. There’s even a Scalextric model of the car in its Monte Carlo livery!
ANDREW BOWNS – LANCIA FULVIA HF 1600
This Lancia Fulvia HF1600 has been owned by the Bowns family since 1974 when current owner Andrew’s late father converted his standard road going Lancia Fulvia 1600HF Lusso into a Group 4 replica.
It has competed in the Manx Historic Rally the Circuit of Ireland a few times and the Mintex Historic Challenge to name but a few. It has just come back from a successful outing in Spain where Andrew drove it all the way there through France to Santander, took part in the Trasmiera Rally Festival and it didn't miss a beat!
IAN HILL – OPEL MANTA B
This period built ‘80s Opel Manta follows the specification of a homologated Group B/A i200. The Researched Vauxhall Opel GM Dealersport Shell Oils Livery in Tarmac style as the Irish cars had.
Supported by the owner Ian Hill’s company (Grenson Motor Company) this car has been built to contest the Unicorn Trophy Hillclimb Championship. It’s since gone onto compete in the RAF MSA Speed Challenge Championship for several years as well as doing a number of HRCR Navigational events.
The Manta was only recently log booked as an MSA stage rally car cat 1 once again and is now doing stage demo events just like at The Fast Car Festival. The highlight so far for Ian has been the Wales Rally GB Press Day and the Cambrian Rally 60th Press Day.
DAN ELLMORE - METRO 6R4 NO188
The second of our two MG Metro 6R4s, this car owned by Dan Ellmore, was originally fitted with a V64V engine when new in 1985. It was rallied and raced by Steve Harris in 1987-1989, when it wore its famous red and white AutoPlas livery and appeared at the Birmingham Super Prix.
The car was then rallied by Peter Lloyd from 1993-1996 then rebuilt by DAM (David Appleby Motorsport) with a 2.8-litre engine and sold to Patricio Gonzalez Hernandez in the Canary Islands where he rallied/hillclimbed in the car. By 2006 it came back to David Appleby and his son James who drove it at Rallyday that year. The car was then purchased by Sandy Arbuthnott and has been rallied ever since.
The car now boasts a 400bhp Jaguar 3.0 V6 (Ford Duratec) engine and sequential gearbox. Bought by Dan Ellmore in 2015 and mechanically rebuilt ready for demonstration and trackday use, the car now sees action on track and in demonstrations.
TERRY PANKHURST – PEUGEOT 205 T16
This 205 T16 Proto was built in 2015 as a modern day tribute to the classic Group B T16 of the ‘80s. While it looks like the T16 from the outside, it is in fact built on a modern Mitsubishi Evo chassis. The engine and 4-wheel drive system all come from the donor Mitsubishi and give it exceptional performance, drivability and reliability. Not to mention that the performance is nearly up there with its Group B progenitor.