7 Group B rally cars will roar across the block at Artcurial’s online auction
Each February, ordinarily, great cars, good cars, and plenty of dyed-in-the-wool gearheads descend upon Paris and walk through the turnstiles at Rétromobile. But as with so many other events during the pandemic, the show has been postponed. It will now be held June 2–6. Instead of simply rolling with it, auction house Artcurial, which hosts one of the highlight auctions at Rétromobile, has taken matters into its own hands and next month will host a one-off “La Parisienne” online sale featuring a feast of Group B rally cars.
An impressive roster of 42 exceptional historic car lots will be on offer at La Parisienne, which is scheduled for February 5, including the 1972 Matra MS 670 with which Graham Hill and Henri Pescarolo won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in ’72. With a pedigree like that, it’s little wonder the Matra boasts a pre-auction estimate of €4,000,000–€7,500,000 ($4,842,080–$9,078,900).
However, 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 of them will require recommissioning, it’s a small price to pay for enthusiasts 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.
Incredibly, this 1988 Audi Quattro Sport S1 has a pre-auction estimate of €1 million–€1.3 million ($1,210,520–$1,573,676) despite its lack of any competition history. Instead, it was acquired directly from Audi Sport by Olivier Quesnel in 1986. 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.
This 1985 Peugeot 205 T16 Evolution 2 was driven in the World Rally Championship by Timo Salonen and Bruno Saby, with a high point being Saby’s second-place finish at the ’85 Tour de Corse. You may be glad to know that the 500-hp, mid-engine, all-wheel-drive monster comes with power steering, a late addition for the Evo 2 models. It carries an estimate of €600,000–€800,000 ($726,312–$968,416).
This 1986 Lancia Delta S4 Rallycross car, which found itself a victim of the Group B ban, was campaigned in ice racing and rallycross by Bruno Saby. Like the Evolution 2, it is estimated at €600,000–€800,000 ($726,312–$968,416).
Fans of the MG Metrol 6R4 will doubtless be interested to see a 1985 example, which won the 1986 French Rally Championship with Didier Auriel behind the wheel. It is estimated at €280,000–€360,000 ($338,945–$435,787).
Other models include a 1986 Ford RS200, campaigned by Stig Blomqvist and Kalle Grundel, estimated at €250,000–€400,000 ($302,630–$484,208); a 1985 Renault 5 Maxi Turbo driven by Carlos Sainz, estimated at €400,000–€600,000 ($484,208–$726,312); and a 1985 Lancia Rallye 037, which like the Renault 5 would find itself outclassed by the four-wheel drive machinery that came to define Group B rallying, estimated at €500,000–€800,000 ($605,260–$968,416).
The Artcurial sale will be significant; rarely does such an important and varied collection of authentic Group B cars cross the auction block. Which one would you like to drive?