“It’s a car enthusiast’s collection, right,” says John Campion to Petrolicious. “I don’t have cars because I want to impress anybody. If you don’t know what a rally car is, you’re kinda like, ‘That’s a dirty car, there are cracks on it’… But I find the passion I have for these cars goes back to the individuals who drove them.”
“I grew up in Ireland in the late-’60s and early ’70s, and had a fascination with all things mechanical,” he says. “My father was a mechanical kind of guy, and we grew up restoring old tractors and steam engines—so once I started making a few dollars, I started purchasing cars, and went through the whole myriad of cars and ended up where we are today, which is predominantly cars from my youth—rally cars.”
He makes no mistakes in recognizing his limitations as a driver, because piloting some of the fastest all-road vehicles ever conceived takes a steel will and full commitment— “I drive the car for 15 minutes, and I’m exhausted…” he says to convey how amazing Group B pilots were in period.
“Group B drivers were the best of the best of the best…” he says. “But it’s still humbling to drive the same car as these rally legends; to be able to show the cars, drive the cars, and get a wider audience for these cars.”
In the Group B WRC era, which spanned from 1982 to 1986, automakers went totally overboard developing monster race cars that pushed the limits of what was possible. The crazy thing about the twincharged four-cylinder in the Lancia Delta S4 is not that it makes 550 horsepower, but that it makes 550 horsepower in a mild state of tune. In trying to offset turbo lag, Lancia bolted a supercharger to its 1.8-liter inline-four, which provided more low end power.
Sadly, it was a Delta S4 that was involved in one of rally’s most infamous crashes, which led to Group B’s cancellation. Henri Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Cresto careened of the road during the Tour De Course rally, and the kevlar-bodied car quickly burned to a crisp after apparently being pierced by a tree, killing the two drivers. Group B was banned for the 1987 season, and some manufactures pulled out of the championship immediately.