If asked to conjure images of the monstrous Group B era of the World Rally Championship, we can probably bet on the sort of thing that’d come to mind. You’re seeing things like Audi Quattros, Lancia Delta S4s and Ford RS200s belting around forests or bouncing across deserts, aren’t you? A car that won’t feature, we’re fairly sure, is the Citroen BX 4TC.
This is a car that only had a short spell in Group B and a disastrous one at that. The project was doomed to failure from the off, with Citroen lacking the budget to create a bespoke, mid-engined platform like its rivals, such as sister brand Peugeot with its 205 T16.
Instead, Citroen used the BX hatchback as a base, switching it from a transverse engine layout to longitudinal and lengthening the nose. To accommodate the all-wheel drive system, the repositioned engine had to sit far forward, hampering weight distribution.
The powerplant in question was a relatively simple eight-valve, 2.2-litre inline-four turbo from Simca-Chrysler developing 380bhp, much less than the BX’s rivals. The car was also a lot heavier than the minimum permitted weight in Group B.
As if being overweight, underpowered and nose-heavy wasn’t enough, the ‘BX 4TC’ lacked a centre differential, making it difficult to drive. During the first two rounds of the 1986 WRC season, the 4TC proved to be well off the pace. A three-round development break helped, with Citroen returning for the Acropolis Rally and showing enough pace to keep the heroes of Group B honest.
None of Citroen’s cars finished, however, with one crashing and the other two retiring with suspension failure. The manufacturer pulled the plug on the spot, its decision no doubt made easier due to Group B’s impending demise - 1986 was to be the era’s final season following two tragic fatal crashes involving both competitors and spectators.
To satisfy homologation rules, Citroen was to build 200 road-going BX 4TCs, but by 1988, it had only sold 62. Amid quality and reliability issues further compounding the French firm’s embarrassment, it tried to buy back and destroy as many of those as it could. As a consequence, the 1987 4TC you see here is much rarer than the average Group B car.
It’s one of around 30 survivors, and it currently resides in Philadelphia. Originally sold in Paris, its fourth owner took the keys in 2018 and imported it to the USA. In its three and a half decades on earth, it’s covered 52,532 kilometres (32,641 miles) and is said to have been well maintained. Recent work includes a major service involving a new clutch and timing belt.
One of these was auctioned in 2019 for £45,000, and although the market for cars like this has gone pretty bonkers since then, you can still buy a 4TC for the fraction of what a more well-known Group B homologation car costs. This one is listed for $198,500 (£144,434) by LBI Limited, although it’s marked as ‘pending sale’, so the boat may have already been missed.
Source: LBI Limited via Car and Classic