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Thread: Group A - International Touring Car Formula

  1. #1

    Group A - International Touring Car Formula

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    The FIA introduced the Group A touring car regulations in 1982. Group A required that 2500 vehicles had to be produced in a 12 month period, for specific parts to be homologated, and that a special 'Evolution' of just 500 vehicles could be produced separate of the initial 2500.

    Group A was first introduced in 1983, in the British Saloon Car Championship (1983-90), but then quickly spread to Germany (1984-92), Australia (1985-92), Japan (1985-93), and New Zealand (1984-92). Additionally was the European Touring Car Championship, held from 1983-88, and the World Touring Car Championship, which took place in 1987.

    It was broken into three classes, based on engine size: 0-1,600cc, 1,601-2,500cc, and over 2,500cc. Weight formula's were used based on the production vehicle.

    More than 60 different vehicle models were homologated for Group A, although as manufacturers sought to produce evolution models specifically for the formula, the racing became dominated by a single marque. The Ford Sierra RS500 dominated from 1988, the Nissan Skyline R32 from 1990.

    But regardless, Group A produced some exciting racing, and some memorable cars. The 1984-86 period was possibly the most competitive, with Ford Sierra (XR4i), Volvo (240T), Jaguar (XJS), Rover (Vitesse), BMW (635CSi), and Holden (Commodore) all enjoying race winning success in the various countries the formula was used during this period, and no single marque appeared to dominate.

    With all the Group A photos and stories appearing on The Roaring Season, this seems like a good time to start a thread dedicated to this formula.

    Photo above courtesy Nigel Watts.

  2. #2
    I've always had a soft spot for the Ford Sierra Cosworth and RS500. I still recall the first media photo I saw of one of these cars in 1986, and I still remember the first one I saw in the flesh, a brand new Moonstone Blue example in a car dealers showroom. They looked quite unique, in an era when cars were modelled off shoe boxes.

    The first team in the world to get a handle on making the Sierra Cosworth both fast and reliable was Rudy Eggenbergers team. The Texaco sponsored Eggenberger Sierra's ran the full 1987 WTCC, winning the title, only to then be stripped of the championship on account of their wheel arch openings being too large.

    Both Andy Rouse, who competed in the British Touring Car Championship and selected WTCC races in 87, and Dick Johnson, who competed in the Australian Touring Car Championship, managed to get on top of the Sierra by 1988, and each dominated their respective championships, while Eggenberger dominated the European Touring Car Championship after the WTCC was killed off.

    Only one time, at Silverstone for the Touring Trophy race, which was also round 10 of the 1988 WTCC, did all three teams go head to head, not counting the Bathurst and Calder WTCC races in '87, where neither Johnson nor Rouse fared at all well. Johnson only took his Sierra to England in '88 because his cars showing the previous year when the Europeans visited, was quite an embarrassment for him, and he wanted to make amends.

    The '88 Silverstone TT race was well publicised as a battle of the worlds best Sierra teams, but nobody expected Johnsons Australian car to dominate the way it did. Sadly, the Australian Sierra didn't reach the finish.

    Here are highlights of that race.

  3. #3
    Semi-Pro Racer kiwi285's Avatar
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    Have always been a fan of the Sierra Cosworth but the 635 Csi was a beautifull car

  4. #4
    Here's an interesting story I found tonight on Brock's first Mobil Group A VK Commodore, it was online from The Warrnambool Standard in 2010, the car is for sale in the current Unique Cars mag for you guessed it $750,000. Nice to see its been restored and has survived.

    The Warrnambool Standard
    15 Oct, 2010 03:00 AM

    DISGUISED by a thick layer of farmyard dust, Illowa poultry farmer Allan "Swampy" Marsh believes he has the automotive equivalent of the goose's golden egg sitting in a corner of one of his sheds. It's the shell of a VK Commodore HDT Group A touring car that he acquired from Australian motor sport legend Peter Brock in the late 1980s.

    Mr Marsh said that automotive auction house Shannons had told him the car could be worth up to $750,000 fully restored. The VK was driven by the late Peter Brock to win the touring car round at Sandown in 1985. It was driven at the 1985 Bathurst 1000 race by team mate John Harvey. Harvey also drove it in 1986 touring car championship events.

    Mr Marsh believed the car was the first to be fitted with Brock's controversial "Energy Polarizer" device, which eventually led to the disintegration of Brock's relationship with Holden. Mr Marsh said he bought the shell of the car in 1988 when he visited Brock's HDT business in Bertie Street, Port Melbourne, to get some spare parts for a VB Commodore he was doing up as a rally car. He said the HDT business was in the process of being liquidated after Brock's falling out with Holden, and the garage was chaotic.

    "I saw the VK shell sitting out the back and said to Brock 'what are you doing with that'?" Mr Marsh said. "Brock said 'what do you want it for?' "I told him what I was doing and he said 'mate, if you can get it out of here quickly you can have it'" Mr Marsh said he had first met Peter Brock when they were both in their early days of motorsport.

    Mr Marsh went on to establish a business building seats for racing cars and supplied Brock and other touring car drivers from the late '70s until the mid '90s. After moving to Warrnambool, Mr Marsh began rebuilding the Group A car for production-car rallying. He fitted it with a 400bhp, 308-cubic -inch V8 and a turbo-400 Chevrolet automatic gearbox. It retained the Ford nine-inch rear end and Volvo disc brakes, as fitted when the car was homologated for touring car competition. Mr Marsh rallied the car from 1991 to 1997.

    Its days as a rusty, dirty hulk are about to come to an end. Mr Marsh said he had collected all the mechanical parts he needed to restore it to original condition. "I am going to completely restore it out of respect for Peter Brock and his achievements." He said Brock, who was killed aged 61 in an accident during a rally in Western Australia, had made a huge contribution to motorsport and had possessed a charismatic and magnetic personality. Mr Marsh expects the restoration of the Commodore to be completed in 12 months.

    A Shannon's representative told Drive yesterday that the auction house was reluctant to make comments on the value of any car they had not personally inspected. But she said that a "Bathurst-winning Brock Commodore... may bring between $250,000 and $500,000". What a buyer was prepared to pay depended on many factors and someone might be willing to pay a higher price if a particular car was personally important to them.
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  5. #5
    750K! Yikes. Brock appeared at the first Wellington Street race in a VK Commodore sponsored by UDC Finance, which was supposed to be the first Brock Commodore built for Group A. I didn't do anything particularly well, and I don't think it had even raced in Aus yet as the 1985 ATCC was still a couple of months away. This car was quickly replaced from memory. So was this the car pictured above?

  6. #6
    This car? Kept lunching its valve gear and timing chain, IIRC.

  7. #7
    Thats the one Shano, I knew someone on here would have a photo of it.

  8. #8
    I have heard that Australian Group C and Group A touring cars will be on the support race list for the 2012 Australian F1 Grand Prix, probably replacing F5000.

  9. #9
    Semi-Pro Racer
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    Correct as heard

  10. #10
    They'll be racing this weekend at the Muscle Car Masters at Eastern Creek also.

  11. #11
    I know the 2 Litre Supertouring category was attempted in the US when it was taking over the world in the early to mid 1990s. But did Group A ever get started in the US?

  12. #12
    Some nice action shots here by Warwick Clayton from the 1986 Wellington Street Race.

    Rouse/Oxton Sierra XR4i

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    Ray Smith/Denny Hulme Commodore. I believe this is a Brock built car? Second shot shows the Commodore being chased by the Dick Johnson/Neville Crichton Mustang. Crichton arranged JPS sponsorship for the Mustangs two NZ appearances. It looked awesome! Any experts on here who can tell me if the Mustang was actually painted black, or if it was just wrapped in a giant vinyl sticker?

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  14. #14
    Semi-Pro Racer
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  15. #15
    Nice pics Tony. I only discovered recently that the Morton/Francevic XE Falcon Group A car has been owned by George Sheweiry for many years!

  16. #16

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by nick_tassie View Post
    Mr Marsh believed the car was the first to be fitted with Brock's controversial "Energy Polarizer" device
    ahh the box of magnets, memories of Harvs coming back from a test session and saying (political correct version follows, not what really came out of Slug's mouth ) "what the heck is this thing" when it came loose under the dash and got jammed under the brake pedal

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Holmes View Post
    did Group A ever get started in the US?
    No. But feelers were put out by one Australian party to get GM to homologate the 1984 IROC Camaro for the 85 season once CAMS announced Australia was going Group A in 85. GM werent interested at all, wouldnt even submit the paperwork, even after being told the Ford Mustang was homolgated. Shame really. They saw it purely as European and hence no sales there, no local interest, no point. And in the US, if US manufacturers arent involved, then no-one cares

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Holmes View Post
    Nice pics Tony. I only discovered recently that the Morton/Francevic XE Falcon Group A car has been owned by George Sheweiry for many years!
    This being a NZ temporary approval to compete? AFAIK the XE was never homologated in pure Group A, I do recall Dicky racing an XE in NZ but the car wasnt his, it was a cross between NZ production racing and the inoming Group A regulations, tons of grunt but no brakes and dodgy transmission, didnt it have non-standard front and rear spoilers, similar (probably was) to what came out on the Australian "sports pak" model?

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Holmes View Post
    Ray Smith/Denny Hulme Commodore. I believe this is a Brock built car?
    The original Denny Hulme "Gold Bullion" car was definatly built by the HDT after 85 the car was sold and updated to VK SS Group A and became the Bob Jane T-Marts car raced by Crosby in 1986, and if you were at Bathurst that year if you ever saw the car with the boot open you would have seen it still painted gold in the boot

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