Following Mitsubishi's rallying success with the Group 2 Lancer 1600 GSR, the factory wanted to move up onto the world stage with an all-out Group 4 car for the World Rally Championship. With Mitsubishi launching the Lancer EX 2000 Turbo exclusively for the Europe market in 1980, the new rear-wheel-drive turbocharged performance saloon would be the perfect candidate for rally conversion. The new works rally car would be built to take on the Audi quattro, Ford Escort, Fiat 131, and Opel Ascona, and armed with the new turbocharged 4G63 Sirius-series 1997cc engine, was a powerful prospect.
The Mitsubishi factory had Denzel in Austria build and run the cars initially and for 1983 established the 'Ralliart' Team as the factory sporting arm of the company. They chose rally legend Andrew Cowan to lead this works effort. The team would come armed with some powerful technology for the period in the form of electronic fuel injection (EFI) and also an electronic control unit (ECU) - the Lancer being the first rally car to run an ECU on the world stage. This high-tech electronic equipment controlled nearly all engine functions and settings such as ignition, fuel injection, and turbocharger boost, allowing the engine to produce well over 300bhp with torque in the region of 340 lb/ft – considerably more than its rivals on both fronts. Engine power would reportedly climb to over 400bhp by the end of the engine development, giving the Lancer Turbo searing straight line speed and the ability to spin its wheels in every gear! In addition, the cars had a fully seam-welded shell, special inlet and exhaust manifold, large turbocharger and intercooler, twin plate paddle clutch, five-speed close-ratio ‘dog box’, 4-6 LSD, special strengthened axle, vented discs with competition calipers, bias braking system, modified rose-jointed suspension and competition shock absorbers, foam filled bag-tank with multi-pump system, acid-dipped bodyshell with lightweight doors, wide wheel arches and lightweight wide wheels to name a few modifications.
The new Lancer Group 4 rally car, sporting its striking works white and orange livery, was launched at the 1981 Acropolis Rally in Greece. The car performed well straight out of the box, everyone noticing its very fast straight line speed. Frustratingly, the car was held back by minor problems including clutch, alternator, and suspension. 1981 would really be the year of using rallies to test the car against the opposition, ready for a full assault in 1982, by which time the team would be fully equipped with the knowledge of what was required to run at the front. There were great flashes of speed during the season though and a points-scoring finish at the season-ending Rally GB left the team full of enthusiasm for the 1982 season.
The car we are offering is one of the works cars built in 1981 for the 1982 season by Denzel in Austria for the full assault on the World Rally Championship – chassis number A176AABU401096. Originally registered in Austria (Reg: St944.192). The car was later registered in Northern Ireland by Mitsubishi Ralliart UK in 1983 for type approval reasons, hence the current ‘GJI 9826’ which has carried since 1983.
Driven by Pentti Airikkala, Anders Kulläng, Harri Toivonen, Andrew Cowan and Antero Laine, the car finished 3rd on the 1982 1000 Lakes Rally (Airikkala) and 7th on the San Remo Rally (Kulläng) in the same year, and was last actively campaigned by the works in Group 4 by Harri Toivonen in the 1983 1000 Lakes Rally where it retired with gearbox problems.
Whilst the tail-sliding Lancer Turbo Group 4 would become outclassed by the hugely modified Group B machines for 1984, The Lancer is the car that started the magical Ralliart Mitsubishi story. After years of developing the Galant and then Lancer again, the hard work all paid off when Tommi Mäkinen took four World Championship titles on the trot from 1996 to 1999.
The car was totally rebuilt by Mitsubishi Ralliart in 1985 which included a rebuild of the engine (the last works engine built), gearbox and axle, and has been unused in competitive rallying since. The ownership trail is very short and simple, the car going from Mitsubishi to well-known driver and collector Jeff Williamson and subsequently onto to the current owner, who acquired the car in 1996. In 2012 the car returned to Austria for Stohl-Racing to sympathetically restore the underside of the car – ensuring the body, engine, mechanical parts and interior remained untouched and totally original. This took place over 18 months and the car was returned in early 2014.
The car only has a recorded mileage of 118 miles since its original Ralliart rebuild in 1985.
A unique opportunity to acquire one of the rarest factory world rally cars in existence.
Some highlights of chassis 401096 specification include:
- Believed to be the last works engine built – meaning latest, highest specification
- 2 litre, 380+bhp
- Works multi-point injection
- Works inlet & exhaust manifolds
- Works turbo with integral wastegate
- Works intercooler
- 5 speed close ratio ‘dog’ gearbox
- 4.625:1 limited slip differential
- Strengthened rear axle
- Twin plate paddle clutch
- KYB Forest spec
- Rose jointed
- Larger anti-roll bars
- Vented and drilled discs (front), vented discs (rear)
- Large pot calipers
- Bias braking system
Wheels and Tyres:
- Genuine original Advan Rally wheels; 6.5x14 (front) 7x14 (rear)
- Yokohama A048 tyres (original Advan GR-07 on spare, but now unavailable)
- Seam welded
- Widened gearbox tunnel
- Acid dipped bodyshell to reduce weight
- Lightweight doors
- Engine mounts relocated further back for better weight distribution
- Fabricated wheel arches and widened front bumper
- Strut brace
- CIBIE driving lights x 4 mounted in front bumper
- All totally original
- Recaro composite seats
- Willans Harnesses
- 6 point rollcage with rear diagonal and door bars
- Nardi steering wheel
- Fly off hydraulic handbrake (adjustable)
- Additional switches for Master cut off, fuel pumps, 3 stage switchable boost, no ignition lock
- Easy access fuse panel on dashboard
- Original Khronos navigators computer
- Two floor mounted fire extinguishers
- Cockpit mounted ECU
- 20 gallon bag tank with twin fuel pumps & filters
- Re-sited battery in original mount
- Original jack and wheel brace
- Genuine Advan Rally spare wheel with the original Advan GR07 Forest tyre
- New turbo (original ex-works)
- New intercooler (original ex-works)
- Differential with 3.9:1 final drive (original ex-works)
- ECU (original ex-works from Lombard RAC Rally)
- Numerous standard road car body panels including: NOS front spoiler (1), NOS front wings (2), NOS rear panel, new sill, bonnets (3), full set of doors (4), rear bumper inner, front panel and lower panel, NOS door window trims, rear bumper cover (2) Interior door panels (black inserts) and front & rear lights.
Authentication / Documentation:
- Car was personally authenticated by original Ralliart team manager Andrew Cowan
- Original homologation papers and build pictures
- Northern Ireland Registration ‘buff book’ showing Mitsubishi Ralliart / Andrew Cowan as owner, and imported from Austria in 1982
- Letter from Denzel (original builder) authenticating the car
- 1983 1000 Lakes Rally hand-written notes for Harri Toivonen Car and Test Car
- 1 of 3 original works cars remaining in the world - one sister car is owned by Mitsubishi Motors Japan and resides in the Mitsubishi Motors Museum, and the other is owned by Andrew Cowan.
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