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Old 7 Jan 2009, 12:31 (Ref:2367020)   #1
Jesper OH
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Group A – unusual cars around the world

Just been inspired to this thread from these posts: http://tentenths.com/forum/showthrea...46#post2366946
I think these cars deserve a thread on their own, so here goes. The following three cars are the only three of it’s kind to appear in Group A racing anywhere around the globe, but I might be wrong. There should be some other one-offs or at least very rare Group A tourers to have been raced, so what’s your nominations?

My first nomination will be a Ford Sierra XR4i – the normally aspirated 2.8 V6 – for the Danish Group A series and selected Swedish events in 1988. Competition consisted of Volvo 240 Turbos so driver Erik Poulsen did little in terms of results. I’m told it still had the original tech spec stickers from ’88 on the aluminium roll cage when the car was found at a junk yard around 2002/2003. The car reappeared in Special Saloon Car racing in 2003 looking like this (car #88):
http://www.motorsporten.dk/news.asp?aID=8858

DTM of 1988 vintage might not be strictly Group A, but the Peter John Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z is another nomination. There seems to have been several second generation Camaro Z28s around in the early days of Group A, but this is the only third generation car I know of. John’s results with the car might explain why there weren’t more IROC-Zs in Group A.

Dutch Mazda dealer Hans van der Beek had an unusual car in his rotary 929 (actually homologated as the Mazda Luce). Unlike the previous two, Beek ran his car for at least three seasons in Group A; 1986-1988. Here’s a very nice shot of the car at the ’86 Silverstone TT ETCC:
http://homepage.mac.com/frank_de_jon...lverstone.html
and from Spa ‘88
http://homepage.mac.com/frank_de_jon...988%20Spa.html

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Old 7 Jan 2009, 12:55 (Ref:2367037)   #2
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The trouble with the Camaro IROC-Z was probably that the 5.7 version was only made with an auto trans and the 5 litre with a T5 manual not capable of taking a lot of torque. Dunno if he would have been allowed to change that in the regs though. Also you need to get rid of that torque arm bolted to the gearbox or risk snapping off the tail housing with disasterous consequenses (I know I am the only other mug to road race one this side of the pond!). Once you have got around that the car is not so bad and could have been made competitive IMHO especially if he could have used the 5.7 with manual transmission. The other similiar one would have been the Mustang that was raced at the time.

As far as the XR4i goes we had one out with us in ModProds about the same time, a very nicely prepared car by Andrew MacKenzie who also had a go in BTCC as a privateer in a Pugeot. We allowed him to de-siamese the exhaust ports on the engine which probably made it a fair bit more effiecient over what presumably you would have had to run in Group A. It would'nt really get on the pace of a good SDI though.
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Old 7 Jan 2009, 14:31 (Ref:2367091)   #3
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Jesper. I hadn't see this excellent new thead when I replied in the 'Oz where are they now' thread!

So i've just copied it across as it's more appropriate in here!


One off Group A possibilities:

Former Alfa and prodsaloon racer Andrew Thrope ran a Mk1 Vauxhall Astra GT/E (in Europe I think it was called the Mk 2 Kadett GSI?) in some British Group A races in 1984, but I have a suspicion that it was in standard trim. At 1800cc that put it in Class B (1601-2500cc) so it was up against the GTV6, Metro Turbo and Bluebird Turbo..... hence it wasn't around for long.

There was the Hans Van Der Beek Mazda 929 from Holland that did some ETC races. It was definitely at the Silverstone TT in 1986. Helluva racket that thing made. Don't know how many more of them there were in Group A?

A Mercedes 450 SLC coupe was entered for Spa in '83 as a one off? Think Hans Heyer was involved and it was most definitely a private effort!

I think there was also a 4 door AMG entered 6 litre Merc Sedan (not sure of the model type!) for Spa in either '88 or 89 as well? (may have been 2 car team?) Massively powerful and quick in straight line. Qualified pretty well IIRC, but overall wasn't really competitive against the M3's and RS500's! I expect those cars saw further action in the Nurby enduro's etc!!

I'm sure there's a few more that people ran in various national championships as well.....

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Old 7 Jan 2009, 19:47 (Ref:2367275)   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Weyman
The trouble with the Camaro IROC-Z was probably that the 5.7 version was only made with an auto trans and the 5 litre with a T5 manual not capable of taking a lot of torque. Dunno if he would have been allowed to change that in the regs though. Also you need to get rid of that torque arm bolted to the gearbox or risk snapping off the tail housing with disasterous consequenses (I know I am the only other mug to road race one this side of the pond!). Once you have got around that the car is not so bad and could have been made competitive IMHO especially if he could have used the 5.7 with manual transmission. The other similiar one would have been the Mustang that was raced at the time.
I think a manuel could have been homologated as an evolution, but since the car itself had only been homologated since April of 1988, it was likely running as an automatic. In the season preview in German magazine Rallye Racing it's rated as a possible dark horse with it's 550 bhp and 1440 kg, but here is the results:

Nürburgring, 1988.05.01, round 5 & 6:
Q - 33rd (from 41) +3.59 seconds off pole
R1 - 29th
R2 - DNF
Avus, 1988.05.29, round 9 & 10:
Q - 31st (from 32) +13.36 seconds off pole
R1 - DNF
R2 - DNS
Nürburgring Nordschleife, 1988.06.18, round 13 & 14
Q - 35th (from 37) +5m59.22 seconds off pole
R1 - DNF
R2 - DNS

And then no more. Unfortunately Rallye Racing has little information regarding the problems.
Four years earlier a previous 5.0 (5004 cc) version of the IROC was homologated, but never heard of this in Group A competition, and frankly I wonder why GM bothered homologating either model, since little seemed to have happened, but thank you anyway
..or the John car was the earlier 5.0!? Actually I have never seen the size of engine mentioned.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Weyman
As far as the XR4i goes we had one out with us in ModProds about the same time, a very nicely prepared car by Andrew MacKenzie who also had a go in BTCC as a privateer in a Pugeot. We allowed him to de-siamese the exhaust ports on the engine which probably made it a fair bit more effiecient over what presumably you would have had to run in Group A. It would'nt really get on the pace of a good SDI though.
Remember that car from the national pages of Autosport.

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Old 7 Jan 2009, 21:10 (Ref:2367324)   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chunterer
[I]Former Alfa and prodsaloon racer Andrew Thrope ran a Mk1 Vauxhall Astra GT/E (in Europe I think it was called the Mk 2 Kadett GSI?) in some British Group A races in 1984, but I have a suspicion that it was in standard trim. At 1800cc that put it in Class B (1601-2500cc) so it was up against the GTV6, Metro Turbo and Bluebird Turbo..... hence it wasn't around for long.
Both the Astra and Kadett-D were of the same first generation FWDs, but at this point still had different homologation papers. Tony Lanfranchi repeated the feat with the next generation Astra during some late 1989 BTCC races mainly to assure John Cleland had enough opposition in his class to become Champion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chunterer
[I]A Mercedes 450 SLC coupe was entered for Spa in '83 as a one off? Think Hans Heyer was involved and it was most definitely a private effort!
Michel De Deyne was likely the prime mover behind this automatic, which also did the ’82 Spa race. Here’s the car in ’83:
http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-07-31-012.jpg
I think the Heyer car you’re thinking of was the Le Mans Group 5 car or a later Group 2 car.
The 450 SLC had a smaller 380 SLC and that model also did a bit of early DTM racing. Jörg Leininger and Robert Manner entered one race each in late 1984. I don’t know if Leininger and Manner shared the same car or it was two different or for that matter the ’84 380 SLC was the De Deyne 450 SLC of previous years. Again my German sources are thin on the ground.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chunterer
[I]I think there was also a 4 door AMG entered 6 litre Merc Sedan (not sure of the model type!) for Spa in either '88 or 89 as well? (may have been 2 car team?) Massively powerful and quick in straight line. Qualified pretty well IIRC, but overall wasn't really competitive against the M3's and RS500's! I expect those cars saw further action in the Nurby enduro's etc!!
The pair of AMG-Mercedes 500 SECs. One for the 1989 24h Nürburgring and two for Spa, recording 3 DNFs. I think they only ever did these two events. Early season rumours of a big engined Mercedes DTM project was denied by AMG boss Hans-Werner Aufrecht, but turned out to be these two beauties:
Hans Heyer/Heiner Weiss/Walter Mertes
http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-07-23-005.jpg
Klaus Ludwig/Alain Cudini/Hans Heyer (again, it seems)
http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-07-23-006.jpg
With similar configurations as the Holden Commodore it could have been an interesting battle, but likely only for second tier positions and it would probably have taken some development of the Merc to be in position to challenge the Commodore.

Another oddity I have remembered since last is the Ford Escort RS 2000 Mk. 2 of Ken Harris, who entered the car for selected Australian races in 1985. After that homologation simply came to an end. I think this car was advertised for sale a few years back with pictures of a yellow and blue car showing a flat nose opposed to the droop snout.

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Old 7 Jan 2009, 21:42 (Ref:2367353)   #6
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Interesting stuff on the Camaro Jesper especially the fact that GM homolgated the model, may be useful info one day. GM did do a racing version very limited run of the car with a version of the engine called Pontiac although I think it was still based on the small block chevy, it also had stuff like an aluminium prop and bigger discs and a 6 speed box (from memory)maybe they were planning to run this until they saw the Ford Mercury Merkur (XR4Ti) blow away the Camaros in the IMSA racing in the US and realised it would not hold a candle to the forthcoming RS500.
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 07:10 (Ref:2367440)   #7
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A couple of quick comments... Mazda Luce was the 929's Japanese market model name, hence the homologation, also Mazda typically built rotary engined versions of their cars in those days.

Re the Camaro - don't forget the substantial weight penalty the car would have to carry if it used the 5.7 engine. As for the "why did they bother?" I would suspect it was because Ford had homologated the 5L Mustang and they were covering their bases.
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 10:22 (Ref:2367543)   #8
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New Zealand is a good place to look for some of the more unusual Group A cars.

The first couple of years of Group A racing in New Zealand (1984-86) was the time period when I first became really interested in motor-racing, at the ripe old age of 10.
So, please forgive me if my recollection of some of these cars isn't as strong as it could be. I was young and impressionable. I live in Australia these days, but still fondly remember those early years of Group A racing in my native New Zealand.
Also, unfortunately I can't provide any pictures. I have only a few of the 1985 Nissan Mobil series in a couple of books I have here. The rest would be in period magazines - but they are in storage in NZ and I have no access to them.

The Ford Falcon XE (and even an older XD) have already been mention in this thead: http://tentenths.com/forum/showthrea...46#post2366946

However, the first season of Group A racing in New Zealand in 1984 saw a few other interesting one-offs.
The Motorsport Association of New Zealand (MANZ) allowed a few cars that were never officially recognised elsewhere to compete that first year in order to increase field sizes.

There were two Holden Commodore VH V8s in the 1984 Benson & Hedges endurance series. These were Group 1 production cars that had raced in the previous season and were upgraded a bit. The ran on slicks and would have had engine and suspension upgrades. However, they were probably quite stock. Others from New Zealand may have more information.
The quickest of the two cars was the gold coloured Denny Hulme/Ray Smith car that was sponsored by the Auckland Coin & Bullion Exchange. This was the car that won the 1983 Pukekohe 6-hour race in Group 1 trim and it provided the strongest challenge to the two BMW 634CSi racers driven in the 1984 series by Neville Crichton/Wayne Wilkinson and Kent Baigent/Neal Lowe.
The second car was a black VH driven by Bruce Fowler and Kirk Stoneman. This may have been the ex-Crichton/Wilkinson car from the 1983 B&H series. This car finished third in the 1984 Pukekohe 6-hour behind the two BMWs.
I think at least one of the cars also contested the 1984/85 New Zealand Touring Car Championship, but neither raced in the Nissan-Sport series at Wellington and Pukekohe in early 1985.
As far as I know, these were the only two VH Commodores to race in something close to Group A trim. The VH was more familiar to Australian race-goers in Group C trim and had raced in NZ for a couple of seasons in NZ Group 1 production trim.

Another very interesting car was the Nissan 300ZX Turbo. Leo Leonard and Garry Sprague ran the car in the first round of the 1984 Benson & Hedges series at Manfield and if I remember correctly, it finished 3rd. The car ran into eligibility problems however (I'm pretty sure that 300ZX was never officially homologated in either turbo or non-turbo form by the FIA) and didn't race in the next two races. Leonard switched to the older Falcon XD for the rest of the season. I think the 300ZX Turbo reappeared at the Wigram round of the 1984/85 NZ Touring Car Championship in Sprague's hands.
Maybe someone from NZ who has period magazines (such as NZ Motoring News which I have never been able to acquire) has some pictures of both the Commodore VHs and the 300ZX?

Other threads have mentioned the Nissan Bluebird Turbo Coupe run by Graham Goode in the BTCC. However, a Nissan Bluebird Turbo 4-door saloon appeared on a number of occasions in the first couple of Group A seasons in New Zealand. I believe the car was owned by Don Halliday and I think he shared it with Reg Cook in the 1985 Wellington street race.
In 1986 he shared it in the Nissan Mobil 500 at Wellington with Garry Croft and they won Division 2 (1601-2500cc) and finished 14th outright (results here: http://homepage.mac.com/frank_de_jon...ellington.html)
I am sure this car continued to race on and off for several more seasons.

In late 1986, Toyota Team New Zealand prepared two FWD Toyota Celica GT ST160s, which ran against the BMW 325is in the 1601-2500cc Division 2. I don't think they had much success. Drivers included Dave Barrow, Mark Jennings and others. If there had been a 1601-200cc class the Celica may have been more successful. The cars were raced for a couple of seasons.
As far as I know, the non-turbo FWD Celica didn't race anywhere else (unless some raced in Japan?).

Another car that raced in the first few years was the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130TC. Garry Pederson and Dave McMillan ran one in the 1984/85 season and another appeared in the hands of Bob Barry and Chris Heyer in the 1986 Nissan Mobil 500.
I can't find any evidence of these Fiats competing in European Touring Car Racing. Can anyone confirm this?

In Australia, we had the Nissan Gazelle (same as the Japanese Silvia), which was driven at various times by Mark Skaife and John Giddings.

Also, in Australia was the Audi 5+5 driven by Chris Heyer.

I have come across other numerous other more unusual Group A cars from the various Autosport and other motorsport articles and websites I've read over the yeas.
I remember a few Opel Monzas appearing in the first few years of Group A in Europe. Surely with proper development and in the right hands these could have been a success in the early years of Group A.
Also, how about the Audi GT Coupes (run by RAS?) in 1982/83 in Division 2? Seem to remember that there were some Opel Mantas, Mazda RX-7s, a Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo and the MG Metro Turbos mentioned earlier. And there seems to have been a fair few Skodas that kept turning up at the Brno race.

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Old 8 Jan 2009, 11:28 (Ref:2367568)   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnh875
A couple of quick comments... Mazda Luce was the 929's Japanese market model name, hence the homologation, also Mazda typically built rotary engined versions of their cars in those days.

Re the Camaro - don't forget the substantial weight penalty the car would have to carry if it used the 5.7 engine. As for the "why did they bother?" I would suspect it was because Ford had homologated the 5L Mustang and they were covering their bases.
The extra weight would have been worth it though as the 5.7 being a much more over square engine with a larger bore will always produce gobs more BHP thatn the 5 litre 305 engine, if they could have used the 5 litre short stroke engine from the early Z/28 TransAm racers that would have been a whole different ball game but the 305is not as tuneable because of its 3.75 inch bore as opposed to the 4 inch on the 350 although they use the same crank. Whether that would have been relevant in Group A I really don't know.
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 11:31 (Ref:2367570)   #10
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What about South African cars like the Ford Perana and GM's answer with the 327 ci Firenza something I would love to build a replica of.
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 11:46 (Ref:2367579)   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brendonwood1

Other threads have mentioned the Nissan Bluebird Turbo Coupe run by Graham Goode in the BTCC. However, a Nissan Bluebird Turbo 4-door saloon appeared on a number of occasions in the first couple of Group A seasons in New Zealand. I believe the car was owned by Don Halliday and I think he shared it with Reg Cook in the 1985 Wellington street race.
In 1986 he shared it in the Nissan Mobil 500 at Wellington with Garry Croft and they won Division 2 (1601-2500cc) and finished 14th outright (results here: http://homepage.mac.com/frank_de_jon...ellington.html)
I am sure this car continued to race on and off for several more seasons.
I'm guessing this is the Bluebird in the background of this pic from Pukekohe in '86?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8021817...7606882601980/

Quote:
Originally Posted by brendonwood1
Another car that raced in the first few years was the Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130TC. Garry Pederson and Dave McMillan ran one in the 1984/85 season and another appeared in the hands of Bob Barry and Chris Heyer in the 1986 Nissan Mobil 500.
I can't find any evidence of these Fiats competing in European Touring Car Racing. Can anyone confirm this?

In Australia, we had the Nissan Gazelle (same as the Japanese Silvia), which was driven at various times by Mark Skaife and John Giddings.

The Barry/Heyer Fiat in the background of this shot:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8021817...7606882601980/

I can't swear to this, but I think I've seen a mention of one being raced in Germany? Likewise I've got a vague memory of seeing something about a Gazelle (or 200SX?) raced in Germany as well at some point
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 11:47 (Ref:2367582)   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brendonwood1
In late 1986, Toyota Team New Zealand prepared two FWD Toyota Celica GT ST160s, which ran against the BMW 325is in the 1601-2500cc Division 2. I don't think they had much success. Drivers included Dave Barrow, Mark Jennings and others. If there had been a 1601-200cc class the Celica may have been more successful. The cars were raced for a couple of seasons.
As far as I know, the non-turbo FWD Celica didn't race anywhere else (unless some raced in Japan?).
One of these Celicas was used by Toyota Team Australia at the 1987 Australian Grand Prix support race. The car is only seen in the background during the broadcast of the race, and I've only recently seen photos of the car (courtesy of 10Tenths member malscar: http://forums.biante.com.au/showpost.php?p=297978&postcount=58). Other photos of the car later in that thread suggest that it's John Smith at the wheel.

I'm guessing that it was brought here to gauge its performance against TTA's fleet of Corollas to see whether the Celica would be more competitive against Nissan's Gazelle in the 2L class.


Western Australia seemed to have a few odd-ball Group A cars. Gordon Mitchell's Fiat Uno Turbo from Bathurst 1986 sits at the top of the list. The car struggled at Bathurst, but ISTR that it was a mechanical problem that caused the lack of pace and, once that was rectified, the Uno ran like a jet. It also did the 1986 AGP support race, but otherwise ran exclusively at Wanneroo.

One car that I don't know much about is the Lancia Delta Integrale that John Farrell entered and practiced at Wanneroo's 1990 ATCC round. The car was withdrawn with no qualifying time recorded, and did not appear at any other ATCC meeting. Not sure whether it appeared at any other Wanneroo race meetings.
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 12:00 (Ref:2367593)   #13
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I'm guessing this is the Bluebird in the background of this pic from Pukekohe in '86?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8021817...7606882601980/



The Barry/Heyer Fiat in the background of this shot:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8021817...7606882601980/

I can't swear to this, but I think I've seen a mention of one being raced in Germany? Likewise I've got a vague memory of seeing something about a Gazelle (or 200SX?) raced in Germany as well at some point
Thanks for the photos. Those are the cars.
The Bluebird was red in 1985. I have a shot of it which I scanned from the Raceyear 1985 annual. I understand I can't use attachments on here. Do I need to use a hosting website to post photos on ten-tenths? If I can work it out, I can post the scan.
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 12:02 (Ref:2367595)   #14
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Originally Posted by William Dale Jr
One of these Celicas was used by Toyota Team Australia at the 1987 Australian Grand Prix support race. The car is only seen in the background during the broadcast of the race, and I've only recently seen photos of the car (courtesy of 10Tenths member malscar: http://forums.biante.com.au/showpost.php?p=297978&postcount=58). Other photos of the car later in that thread suggest that it's John Smith at the wheel.
Excellent - haven't seen that photo/thread before.
I could have sworn that at least one of the cars was a litfback, but my memory is probably playing tricks. There may be photos of the cars in the Nissan Mobil 500 programmes I have from 1987, but unfortunately I have no access to them at the moment.
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Old 8 Jan 2009, 12:03 (Ref:2367598)   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brendonwood1

I remember a few Opel Monzas appearing in the first few years of Group A in Europe. Surely with proper development and in the right hands these could have been a success in the early years of Group A.
Also, how about the Audi GT Coupes (run by RAS?) in 1982/83 in Division 2? Seem to remember that there were some Opel Mantas, Mazda RX-7s, a Mitsubishi Lancer Turbo and the MG Metro Turbos mentioned earlier. And there seems to have been a fair few Skodas that kept turning up at the Brno race.
There were quite a few Monzas around in the early years of Group A, particularly in Europe. I think the only one raced in the BTCC was Tony Lanfranchi's GM Dealersport car from 1983 or so: http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-09-11-038.jpg
I don't recall any of them ever really getting on the front-running pace though

The class structure with the splits at 1600cc and 2500cc wasn't particularly good for 2-litre cars like the Manta, Fiat Ritmo/Strada, 1.8 litre Golf etc which I guess contributed to keeping them fairly uncommon- 2-litre Opel Kadetts and Asconas were also seen occasionally in the early years.

Just tripped over a couple of other rarities on racingsportscars.com:

The rear-engined Simca Rallye 3 raced by the Haribo Racing Team in 1982

http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-06-13-047.jpg
http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-09-12-052.jpg

They moved on to another unusual Group A car- the Peugeot 205GTI
http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-09-29-080.jpg

It's odd how rare the Pug was in Group A racing bearing in mind that it was a highly successful car in the 1600cc classes in rallying

Another oddity- this Merc 280SE seen at Brno in '82
http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-06-13-047.jpg

The Reanult 11 Turbo- small capacity turbo cars never seemed to catch on in the 1600-2500 class for some reason- apart from the Metro turbos, the only others I can think of are a few 1.4 litre Renaults- usually the 5, but occasionally an 11- Again a car that was fairly successful in rallying but never translated this to the circuits
http://www.racingsportscars.com/etcc...-07-28-050.jpg

Last edited by KA; 8 Jan 2009 at 12:06.
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