Say 'Group B' to any rally fan and you'll probably see their eyes light up thinking about flame spitting monsters of the forest endowed with far more power than was ever sensible. Citroen saw a problem however, how do you introduce someone to this in a slightly saner environment? Their answer was the four wheel drive Visa Mille Pistes.
Loosely translated as thousand tracks, presumably because of the car's off road ability, the car was stripped of as much weight as possible. Thanks to some lightweight panels, the Mille Pistes tipped the scales at just 850kg. This was handy as to keep costs down for would be rallyists, the motor was a 4 cylinder with just 1360cc of displacement. A pair of throaty carburettors helped to push power to a respectable 112bhp in road trim.
The 4 wheel drive system was brilliantly simple, another factor in the car's low weight. A clutch just before the rear differential allowed drive to be interrupted to prevent low speed understeer or tyre scrub without the need for a 3rd diff. At higher speeds the car could be chucked into corners heroically and slid round under power.
Although it was never going to challenge the big boys from Audi, Lancia & Peugeot it did gain a number of class wins on the international scene. Further upgrades saw around 150bhp in later cars, ensuring they stayed competitive right up to the early 90's. Even more interesting were the development cars that pre-dated the Mille Pistes....
These included the Esprit powered, mid engined rear wheel drive car above developed by Lotus themselves. If that wasn't crazy enough then there were also mid and even twin engined 4 wheel drive variants that I've pictured below. For the rest, check out this forum post I was able to find.
From AJTaylor's blog The Wastegate