Na początku lat osiemdziesiątych brytyjska firma Leyland reprezentowana była w rajdach przez Triumphy TR7 V8 i TR8. Pojawienie się grupy B ponownie rozbudziło zainteresowanie rajdami i dało początek jednemu z najbardziej niezwykłych samochodów w tej klasie – Metro 6R4. Był to jeden z najkrótszych samochodów w tej klasie, a umieszczenie jego wyrafinowanego silnika na tak małej przestrzeni byłoby prawdziwym wyczynem. Projekt Very High Performance Derivative (VHPD) został początkowo pomyślany z jednostką Rover V8 zainstalowaną z przodu i z napędem na tylne koła. Jednak rozwiązaniem, które pozwalało zaoszczędzić miejsce było umiejscowienie silnika centralnie. V8 został przekształcony w V6, a zastosowany początkowo 2,5-litrowy silnik zamontowany w prototypie osiągał 250 KM. Napęd na cztery koła był niezbędny, aby samochód był konkurencyjny, a młody inżynier Bernie Marcus umieścił skrzynię biegów obok silnika, za fotelem pasażera, wraz z wiskotycznym sprzęgłem Fergusona zarządzającym rozdziałem mocy między przednie i tylne koła. Co ciekawe, w odróżnieniu od konkurencji zrezygnowano ze stosowania doładowania, co pozwoliło uniknąć problemów związanych z „turbo lagiem” i chłodzeniem. W docelowej, rajdowej wersji zespołu fabrycznego, osiągnięto w nim 380-410 KM z 3-litrowej jednostki V6. W celu zaspokojenia wymagań homologacyjnych, w okresie od sierpnia do października 1985 roku, Leyland opuściło 200 samochodów, a Metro mogło wystartować w Rajdowych Mistrzostwach Świata na zakończenie 1985 i w 1986 roku. Już w debiucie Tony Pond sięgnął po trzecie miejsce, ustępując jedynie dwóm Lanciom Delta S4. Seria awarii i nieoczekiwany koniec grupy B uniemożliwił angielskiej drużynie osiągnięcia wszystkiego, na co pozwalał potencjał. Mimo to, Metro 6R4 wyróżniało się w innych miejscach. David Llewellin wygrał rajd Circuit of Ireland w 1986 roku, a Didier Auriol odniósł zwycięstwo w całym cyklu Rajdowych Mistrzostwach Francji, prowadząc samochód wystawiony właśnie na sprzedaż.
Niezwykły w tym egzemplarzu jest zestaw wskaźników umieszczony przed pilotem, z jedynie obrotomierzem na konsoli centralnej, skierowany w stronę kierowcy. Taki układ wynikał w wykonanej na szybko przekładki kierownicy na lewą stroną, która bardziej odpowiadała francuskiemu kierowcy. Po odniesieniu pięciu zwycięstw, Didier Aurial sięgnął po pierwszy w swojej karierze tytuł Rajdowego Mistrza Francji. Oferowane na aukcji MG Metro 6R4 karierę sportową zakończyło po tym, zwycięskim sezonie 1986. Zauważone przez szefa California Automobiles, głównego dealera w Cannes, zostało przywiezione do Francji w 1988 roku, a już rok później sprzedane Michelowi Hommellowi do tworzonego przez niego muzeum Grupy B. Dziś Metro jest w stanie niezwykle oryginalnym, jak na samochód rajdowy. Wśród legend Grupy B jest to atrakcyjny i niezwykły samochód, z potężnym wolnossącym silnikiem V6 w malutkiej karoserii, który wyceniono na 280 – 360 tysięcy euro, a sprzedano za 244360 euro.
Photos © Peter Singhof
Sale Parisienne 2021 – 05 february 2021 /Lot 10 1985 MG Metro 6R4
1985 MG Metro 6R4
Estimation 280,000 – 360,000 €
Sold for 244,360 €
Chassis no. SAXXRWNP7A0570016
– Owned by the Manoir de Lohéac since 1989
– Winning car from the 1986 French Rally Championship
– Remarkable condition
– Driven by a French World Champion
At the start of the 1980s, British Leyland was represented in rallying by the Triumph TR7 V8 (or 'TR8′), before giving up the sport in favour of track racing. The arrival of Group B rekindled its interest in rallying and gave rise to one of the most remarkable cars in its class, the Metro 6R4. It was one of the shortest cars in the class and slotting its sophisticated engine into so small a space would be a real feat.
Under the direction of John Davenport, Austin Rover’s head of motorsport, and with help from Patrick Head from Williams Grand Prix, the 'Very High Performance Derivative’ (VHPD) project was initially conceived with a Rover V8 installed at the front of a Metro that had been converted to rear-wheel drive. But a mid-engined layout soon seemed the obvious solution, and to save space, the V8 was converted into a V6 by removing two cylinders. The 2.5-litre engine installed in the prototype produced 250 bhp in its initial form and was unusual in remaining naturally aspirated: for the manufacturer, this avoided turbo lag and caused fewer cooling problems.
Four-wheel drive was essential for the car to be competitive, and the young engineer Bernie Marcus placed the gearbox next to the engine, behind the co-driver’s seat, with a Ferguson viscous coupling managing the distribution of power between the front and rear wheels. This layout gave the car its name: '6-cylinder Rally 4-wheel drive’ (6R4), and the first running prototype was ready in February 1983, the whole of that year being devoted to its development. In 1984, the car was officially presented and entered in various events, but it had yet to be homologated in Group B. For this, it needed a bespoke engine: this would be the 'V64V’, a quad-cam 3-litre unit designed by David Wood (ex-Cosworth), which produced 250 bhp in the basic Clubman model and 380-410 bhp in the 'works’ version.
Between August and October 1985, 200 cars duly left the workshop, and the Metro could be entered in the World Rally Championship, driven by Tony Pond, Marc Duez and Malcolm Wilson. On its first rally, the RAC at the end of 1985, the Metro finished third, a fine result behind two Lancia Delta S4s (also on their first outing!). Unfortunately, this result proved inconclusive and the 1986 season was marred by several retirements. The unexpected end of Group B prevented the English team from getting all they could out of this little slingshot, its looks transformed by an array of spoilers and wheel-arch extensions.
The Metro 6R4 nonetheless went on to distinguish itself elsewhere, with David Llewellin winning the Circuit of Ireland Rally in 1986, and Didier Auriol claiming victory in the French Rally Championship that same year, driving the car offered for sale today.
The car for sale
In 1984/85, Austin Rover France approached John Davenport with a view to entering Auriol in a car in the French Rally Championship. Bids were invited from private rally teams and Rally Engineering Development (RED), based near Liverpool, expressed interest. Established in 1979, the company had 22 employees in 1984, led by Peter Cattanach, and had achieved particularly good results with Ford. Its offer was accepted, and the team awarded a three-year contract with Austin Rover, with responsibility in 1986 for the French Rally Championship with Auriol, the English Championship with Willie Rutherford and the British Open with Llewellin and Henri Toivonen.
The English team and the French driver didn’t know each other, but hit it off very well, Cattanach going so far as to say that Auriol was one of the five best rally drivers in the world.
RED duly prepared a car for the 1986 French Championship, converting a Clubman homologation model to full works specification, using parts supplied by Austin Rover’s motorsport department. On 19 November 1985, it was registered C206 JMB, as can be seen from the original Vehicle Registration Document, in the name of RED, which is included in the history file.
The season got off to a slow start with two retirements (for oil pump then distributor failures), but these were followed by a breathtaking battle between the ’33 Export’ Metro of Auriol and his co-driver Bernard Occelli, and the Renault 5 Maxi driven by François Chatriot. At the end of the season, the two drivers each had 119 points, but Auriol had notched up five wins, against four for the Renault driver. And so Auriol won the title! Despite the ban on Group B, he decided to stay at RED and drove a Ford Sierra Cosworth for the English team in the 1987 and 1988 seasons, again winning the French Rally Championship.
As Didier Auriol, during the beginning of the season, complained a lot about the fact that the car was right hand drive, subsequently, before the end of the season and as it is obvious on some period pictures, of the Rallye du Var in November, the car was converted to left-hand drive. This explains why the dashboard is in front of the navigator, with only a large rev counter on the driver’s side, while the main controls are on the centre console. A feature unique to this car!
Meanwhile, the Metro, which had become obsolete after the 1986 season, was put into storage. Noticed by the head of California Automobiles, a major dealer in Cannes, it was imported into France in 1988, as a French customs certificate dated 20 September 1988 confirms. It was then sold in 1989 to Michel Hommell and immediately entered the museum. The history file includes the original sales invoice, dated 10 May 1989.
Auriol was particularly fond of this car, as Quesnel reminded us: „He asked to buy it several times, but Michel Hommell never agreed.”
Today the Metro is in unusually original condition for a rally car. There are no gaps in its history between the time it was prepared for rallying and the present day; it went almost directly from the rally stages to the museum and has been in the same ownership since 1989. Among the legends of Group B, it is an appealing and unusual car, with its big naturally-aspirated V6 in a stubby bodyshell.
We inform buyers that all the vehicles in the collection have been little used during the last years as they are part of a museum collection. They are sold as presented and therefore require recommissioning before being driven on the road.
Discreet by nature and originally from Montpellier, Didier Auriol has the distinction of being the first Frenchman to win the Drivers’ title in the World Rally Championship. He did so in 1994, with a works Toyota Celica. His tally of victories started well before this, in 1986, with his first title as French Rally Champion, driving the Metro 6R4 presented here. With a Ford Sierra Cosworth for RED, he achieved the same result in 1987 and 1988, opening the way for him to join the Lancia works team in the World Rally Championship in 1989, driving a Delta Integrale. Despite good results (in 1992, he notched up six victories), the title eluded him, and he finished third in 1991 and 1992. He then moved to Toyota and after another third place in 1993, he finally claimed the world title in 1994! It was the crowning achievement of his career. To cap it all, he was named 'Champion of Champions’ in the Race of Champions a record four times, in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1999!
COLLECTION MICHEL HOMMELL ET OLIVIER QUESNEL
At the start of the 1970s, I had the privilege of meeting Michel Hommell and Olivier Quesnel, before they had forged the perfect collaboration.
Olivier, Patrick Tambay’s closest childhood friend, started his career working in PR for the Simca Racing Team, before joining Jean Todt at Peugeot Talbot Sport, and Michel Hommell, a former R8 Gordini Cub competitor, was diversifying his motorsport-themed publishing group, which included the flagship publication ” Echappement „. Following a first dinner they shared the uncanny feeling of having known each other forever. They found reasons to meet, particularly for games of squash where the loser offered the winner a case of wine, and the publisher vowed : ” I will ask you to join me when I have the means to pay for your talents „.
This came to pass in 1984 and six months later, Olivier took over the running of the group. For the next 25 years, the two friends lived in each other’s shadow, working in the same office. Two visionaries, one calm, optimistic and tenacious, the other rigorous, quick-witted with an eye for the big picture.
At the end of the 1980s, in his château in Wideville, Jacky Setton assembled a collection of Formula 1 ” winners „, with a vision, originality and ambition that I have described in ” Une Collection d’Avance „. It was with the same aim that our two accomplices approached the rally discipline, amazed by the performance of these cars and the courage and skill required by the drivers to tame them. Michel and Olivier were boosted by their own involvement, during the 1988 season in the French Rallycross Championship, with the talented Bruno Saby at the wheel of the monstrous Lancia Delta S4 in Metal 5 colours. This S4 would form the cornerstone of a collection they went on to assemble from across Europe, just as these ephemeral and iconic Group B cars were leaving the scene, providing an obvious appeal and a guaranteed authenticity. The Group B room is one of the most thrilling sections of the museum in Lohéac, combining the uncompromising brutality of these victorious beauties with an admiration for the talents of their drivers, tightrope walkers on the fragile thread of life.
In 2008 Olivier was offered the management of Citroën Racing, and Peugeot Sport the following year. The result : 4 driver’s and constructor’s world championship titles for Citroën and two first places at Le Mans in 2009, as well as a World Endurance title in 2011 for Peugeot. Meanwhile, Hommell built himself a kind of feudalism of which he has become the benevolent lord. It offers a celebration, reanimating the sleepy village of Lohéac, a museum, bringing together more than 400 cars, an exhibition of popular Arts and Traditions, and sport, with the creation of a circuit capable of hosting a round of the Rallycross World Championship…
The friendship continues, as strong as ever, summed up by the words of Montaigne talking about La Boétie: ” because it was him, because it was me „.
The collection reflects the personality of these two inseparable competitors !