Wednesday, February 24, 2010

homemade homologated hullabulloo

So I've been obsessed with homologation specials for a very long time. My favorite P-car is the 959, I loved the R5 Turbo chase scene in Never Say Never Again, and if my hot hatch has a motor in the boot then the milk can go on my lap.

These cars were nutty and only saw the light of day because the FIA mandated that manufacturers build road-going examples of their race cars. The idea was to force teams to build their race cars off of existing, road-going production cars. In reality, team constructed purpose-built race machines and then softened the edges on a handful of cars to be unleashed on the general public. Most of these cars are big-bucks today, and rightfully so. They are bonkers relics of the no-rules-just-right Group B rally years. Most are silhouette-type cars that look like mainstream variants from 200 feet away, with one eye closed, and a six-pack deep.

My favorite and perhaps the most outrageous was the Lancia Delta S4 and its Delta S4 Stradale counterpart. These were Deltas in name only and featured a front fascia that vaguely resembled the economy-car offering from Lancia. It was a tube-frame race car with a mid-mounted four cylinder. Eschewing the trend to turbocharge, Lancia worked with Abarth to develop a lag-free twin-charged system employing a belt-driven supercharged and a turbocharger.

It was all good fun until enough people died, including some Portuguese spectators and later Lancia team driver Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto. The fire-breathing Group B cars were killed and the rally world was never quite the same. Just like the Can-Am series of the paved world, the Group B rally cars were some of the fastest, least-restrained machines ever driven in anger.

So what does an inspired but financially modest enthusiast do? Why, create his own mini-monster on a moderate budget. I've thought about it a bit and done some reading over on the Locost forums.

Here is my plan:

  • buy a running front-wheel-drive Audi 5000/200 turbo
  • remove drivetrain and brakes
  • find appropriately awkward and lightweight hatchback, preferrably with 80's styling cues and terrible digital instruments
  • place Audi engine and transaxle in backseat of hatchback
  • enjoy!

On paper it is very straightforward but I know this is a major undertaking. I also have a project and a half worth of cars sitting around right now. But a guy can dream right? And by dream, I really mean scheme, plot, and connive.

The Audi five-banger is a key component here: it will provide the chilling, ur-quattro-esque wail that Michelle Mouton called "the thing I miss most" about Group B. The Audi five also comes with requisite period goodies like an external wastegate (for dumping straight out into traffic). It also has beefy internals and lots of aftermarket support. Sort of.

The choice of a chassis is tricky. Anything I select will need copious amounts of surgery. I need to find a chassis that is as light as possible, with correct charm, and can still fit the long Audi drivetrain behind my 6'5" frame. I'm not afraid of a headrest-on-the-firewall setup, but I don't want my right arm resting on the valvecover.

My first choice is a MkI Rabbit, if only for the all-German feel. I can also find some nice prefab fender flares for the Rabbit/Golf types. I also like the Toyota FX16. A Renault Le Car wouldn't be so bad either, and they are dirt cheap and flyweight. It wouldn't be the first time the Germans forced their way into the French.

All in all, it's going to be a fun and frustrating project if it ever happens.

But man, if it does, that will be one fun car.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I can add my blog to the list of sweet project I start and promptly forget about. I'm trying to go through my life and finish/resume projects as resources allow.

That said, I will hopefully resume posts here.

Pay special attention to the Saab and Subaru build pages. I really do have lots of pictures somewhere to post. Expect great-to-above-average things from both those cars.

I'll be working on a bicycles page too, for my burgeoning herd of two-wheel toys. NJS will have nothing on me.