For-rent electric Ami aside, French brand Citroen doesn’t have much of a presence in the US car industry. At least not in the modern one; in the classic community, it’s another story. Vintage Citroens often introduced novel features and ideas to the automotive world. But the company’s cars are known as much for their quirky designs as they are their innovations. And the same applies to its short-lived and—arguably deliberately—forgotten Group B rally car: the Citroen BX 4TC.
The Citroen BX 4TC was a Group B rally car born of desperation
It ended decades ago, but the Group B era still looms large. This brief span of time saw manufacturers with few restrictions pore vast resources into developing some of the most insane rally cars seen before or since. It’s this racing class that created legends like the Ford RS200, Audi Sport Quattro S1, and Lancia Delta S4. And with Group B rally cars’ successes often turning into showroom sales, Citroen decided to step in, too.
The idea was arguably sound, but Citroen’s timing could’ve been better. Although Citroen is a dominant WRC force today, back in the 1980s it was more of an underdog, DriveTribe reports. Its successes with the 2CV Sahara and DS were decades past, and the company’s rally program was strapped for cash.
Plus, while it had a somewhat successful early Group B rally car, the AWD Visa hatchback, it was never able to pull off an overall win. And by the time Citroen realized it needed an upgrade, its competitors had fully embraced Group B’s madness. Adding to the difficulties were Group B’s homologation rules, which required manufacturers to build a minimum number of street-going versions of their rally cars. So, to save money, Citroen demanded that its race cars were as close to the street versions as possible.
The end result of all these issues and demands was the 1986 Citroen BX 4TC. At the time, the front-wheel-drive BX hatchback was one of Citroen’s best-selling cars, so it made sense to turn it into a rally car. But while Renault turned its FWD hatchback into a mid-engine RWD rally car, Citroen went a different, quirkier route.
Even amongst the madness of Group B, the Citroen BX 4TC was an unusual rally car
The typical Group B rally car came to bat with a lightweight tubular-frame chassis, composite body panels, and AWD. Citroen gave the BX 4TC precisely one of those things, The Drive reports. But even then, it did so in a…unique way.
A small budget and management’s demands meant Citroen’s racing team had to use the BX’s standard monocoque chassis. As a result, the 4TC was almost 420 lbs heavier than the Group B rally car minimum weight. Admittedly, Citroen did give the BX 4TC a turbocharged engine. But while 380 bhp from a 2.1-liter turbocharged four-cylinder sounds impressive, remember that other Group B cars put out about 500 bhp. So, not only was the BX 4TC significantly heavier than its rivals, but it was also less powerful.
The engine’s output wasn’t the Citroen BX 4TC’s only handicap. Originally, the BX had a transversely-mounted engine, which the race team changed to a longitudinal layout for the 4TC. But even after the race car’s bodywork was extended to accommodate the swap, there wasn’t enough room for a radiator in the engine bay. So, the BX 4TC’s radiators are in the back, Artcurial explains.
Also, even with the extended bodywork, the 2.1-liter engine is “mounted way up near the headlights,” The Drive notes. That’s a recipe for understeer, AWD or not. And speaking of AWD, the Citroen BTX 4TC has it. But its AWD system has neither a transfer case nor a locking center differential. As a result, in the corners the axles like to fight each other, The Drive says.
However, the Citroen BX 4TC had at least two saving graces. The first is Citroen’s signature oleo-pneumatic suspension, made famous by the DS. The BX 4TC’s version came from the contemporary SM and was an immense help on bumpy races like the Acropolis Rally. Secondly, the rally car has the SM’s variable-assist power steering for quick, low-speed maneuvering and high-speed stability.
Citroen tried to crush all BX 4TCs out of shame, but a few survived—including this genuine Evolution race car
Unfortunately, the Citroen BX 4TC came right as Group B rallying was headed for cancellation. It only competed in three events during its sole 1986 season, and only finished one of them. Plus, not only was the race car unsuccessful, but Citroen only managed to sell 62 road-going versions.
Faced with this embarrassment, Citroen tried to buy back as many BX 4TCs as it could to crush them. However, it only managed to bury 30 customer cars and some of its competition cars. The rest survived, including a handful of the BX 4TC Evolution rally cars. And now, one of them is up for auction.
That’s right, you could own the very same Citroen BX 4TC Evolution Jean-Claude Andruet drove in his last year in WRC. As in, the same No.18-chassis car that finished 6th in the 1986 Swedish Rally. And while it’s “exceptionally well-preserved,” it hasn’t been touched since its last rally, Artcurial says.
How much will this unusual rally racer cost?
If you want this rare and unusual Group B rally car, it’s headed to the auction block courtesy of Artcurial. The auction goes live on October 24th, 2021.
You’ll likely need the prep time to gather enough cash. While street-legal BX 4TCs are fairly affordable for Group B homologation cars, the Evolution models are another matter. For example, in 2019 a homologation car went for $61,600 at a Gooding & Co. auction, The Drive reports. However, Artcurial estimates Andruet’s former race car will sell for $289,000-$405,000.
To those who want an oddball of a Group B rally car, good luck with your bids.
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