Why We Love Citroëns: Gruppe B Edition

As Mr. Lieberman’s lovingly crafted ode to the most complicated car in the world, and the Autoblog podcast featuring our own Tim and Jeff conclusively showed, Hooniverse loves Citroëns. Here’s another reason – the BX 4TC (no relation to XTC, sorry new wave fans).

A normal (well, the 16V variant) BX.

For those of you who don’t have the entire lineage of the double-chevron marque etched into their distressed synapses, the BX was the successor to the delightfully bizarre GS/GSA, powered (I use that term quite loosely) by an air-cooled flat four and in some instances, the star-crossed Corotor Wankel, and of course using the company’s trademark liquid hell suspension of death hydropneumatic suspension. Despite basically bankrupting the company and forcing it into bed with its arch-nemesis, Peugeot, Citroën rallied (pun intended) to develop the less-quirky but still amazingly French BX.

The Gandini-penned shape was, to pick a single word, fussy. It sort of looked like a Lada auditioning for a role in Blade Runner. But under the skin, the BX was the subject of a whole host of either improvements or perversions, depending on your views of the state of the French auto industry. It shared a platform with the highly conventional Peugeot 405, but retained the hydropneumatic suspension. One of the reasons for platform-sharing was the dubious reliability of the GS, and so another nod to reliability was a host of, frankly, boring, tiny motors that I won’t bore you discussing. So the BX was weird but more conventional than its predecessor – why am I writing about it again?

Oh yes, the 4TC. Let me get a couple of caveats out of the way here. It was a Gruppe B car, but in competition it basically sucked. It hit the course rocking a Peugeot 505 mill, and ultimately Citroën was so horrified by its ineptitude as a racer that they destroyed as many of them as they could get their hands on, so their shame wouldn’t be paraded around in front of them like some sort of misbegotten tattoo.
So it wasn’t very successful on the track – so what? Is the Bill Thomas Cheetah derided because it never got its teething problems sorted before its race career ended? Hell no, the Cheetah is hotter than a wet t-shirt contest of full of Megan Fox clones. And so it is with the BX 4TC – 430 HP (380 HP in the roadgoing homologation versions) and 2500 lbs make for an exciting combination under any circumstances except for the batshit madness of Gruppe B competition at its height.
BX 4TC engine, je t’aime.

In addition, it used a competition version of the selfsame hydropneumatic suspension, giving it an unparalleled potential on broken pavement. The car was underdeveloped and so never realized its full potential, but just look at that brace of foglights, that stance, that forced-induction longitudinal lump … well, here’s six minutes of justification for the BX’s credibility as a hoonworthy car.
Now, imagine it’s just you and a competition spec BX 4TC, the Col de Turini laid out in front of you, a too-cool-for-école French vixen perched next to you and coddled by the hydropneumatic ride, the black night pierced by your quad driving lights as the snow roostertails away from under your blistered fenders … c’est magnifique, no?
First image courtesy of GroupBRally.com

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  1. skitter Avatar

    That road homologation version really, really speaks to me. It's not like a traditional 'sleeper' Gruppe B road car; the craziness inherent to the basic version is celebrated with a flourish. It commands respect where the basic version might be dismissed as too French, too weird, too slow.

  2. PFG Avatar

    I vaguely recall a write-up of the Group B scene from 1985 or thereabout (possibly in R&T) that devoted the requisite column length to the 205, the Quattro Sport, the Delta S4, etc. Tucked away at the end of the article was a small photo of the BX 4TC in street clothes. Something about that French meanie spoke to my ten-year-old self in a way that the rest of the homologated homeboys of Group B did not. Sadly, it was the only coverage of the car that I can remember, and until today, the car had passed from my memory. Thanks for bringing it back!

  3. engineerd Avatar

    The French are always surrendering too easy. WW1, WW2, Viet Nam, Group B, that mime that ran away from me in Paris…

    1. BrianTheHoon Avatar

      You MUST tell me of your mime repulsion secrets. Or better yet, write a how-to book. You'll make millions. Tens of millions if you include the secrets of making clowns and panhandlers run away.

      1. engineerd Avatar

        I just told him I was American and voted for George Bush…twice.

        1. Alff Avatar

          A real 'mercan voted for him four times (at least).

  4. Tomsk Avatar

    Oh. Hell. Oui</>.

  5. Balestra Avatar

    Group B is always hot, no matter what car it is. It made a Metro look god for chrissakes. But the RS200 is still Zeus to all the other Herculesses (however that plural works)

    1. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

      Agreed, nobody was ashamed to put spoilers and scoops as many and as big you could get. The turbo's would take care for the power.

  6. donkeyassman Avatar

    that motor is familiar to me as a former 505 turbo owner, but I'd never heard of this car before. sweet

  7. Alff Avatar

    It's a shame it wasn't more competitive. The water ouini suspension appears to swallow the bumps better than most.

  8. PFG Avatar

    I just noticed the "traction avant" chevrons arranged in a 4×4 pattern on the hood. Clever!

  9. BrianTheHoon Avatar

    "no relation to XTC, sorry new wave fans"
    You sure? Cause this post has MY senses working overtime.

    1. Tripl3fast Avatar

      "… trying to tell the difference between a LeMon and a Mime…."

  10. LTDScott Avatar

    Dear God, that was a horrible attempt at a joke.

  11. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

    It sort of looked like a Lada auditioning for a role in Blade Runner.
    Ha! That's great.

  12. ClutchKick Avatar

    There's one of these at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. When I went there, they had it stashed away in the basement, covered in dust. I'll try to dig up some photos.

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