If you’re of a certain age, any mention of Group B might prick your ears. Ranking high among the most spectacular motorsport machines ever built, Group B rally cars oozed menace, roared deafeningly and spat fire. All this is excellent, but my favorite thing about them is the breathtaking variety in which they came.
Take this 1976 Ferrari 308. It’s a great example of a privateer machine, the kind of thing built with an eye on killing a few factory giants. It appears at Goodwood, fittingly, on the Forest Rally stage, which I’m not sure we’ve mentioned before.
It’s hard to imagine a rally Ferrari today, the whole scene has shifted somewhat towards ultra-lightweight four wheel drive machines with tiny engines and lots of turbocharging. The 308 fitted into Group B rather well, though – and this one is fairly described as ‘Group B and then some’.
It was built in 1981 by its present owner, Tony Worswick of Worswick engineering, with assistance from Maranello Consessionaires, the UK Ferrari importer at the time. Building it didn’t simply involve a putting a long shopping list of Ferrari bits together, though. In fact, the engine in this particular machine was actually lined up for a Formula 3000 car, but a series rule change made it redundant.
Worswick engineering installed their own camshafts, slide injection system and sundry other internal components, with power estimated to be around 430bhp. The rest of the car is intensely modified for rally use, albeit still using the original suspension wishbones. All the bushes are uber-rigid, though, and magnesium Bilstein dampers are fitted. If you’re reading this and fancy making your own 308 a bit more hardcore, all the components Worswick made or sourced are still available.
By the way Tony throws this Ferrari at the Goodwood rally course, he has implicit trust in just what the car can do. It sounds magnificent, too, with its straight-cut rally gears. Seeing a 308, the kind of car more likely to be seen outside a wine bar in the ’80s, drifting on a blend of rutted tarmac and loose rock, is a faintly surreal experience. There were seven factory-assisted 308 Group B cars built in all, though, and scenes like this weren’t as unusual as you might think.
As an introduction to the Goodwood Rally stage, the Ferrari put in a terrific demonstration of what it’s all about. My camera is now thick with dust, too, and my lungs are lined with gravel and flint chips.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Redusernab 2017)