1988 again: Motorsports, Concept cars and sad goodbyes.
And in fact, let’s start with the sad goodbyes.
The FAAL Coupe got its glory days in 1984-1986, 6 years after its release. The 400+hp Group B beasts were tearing the gravel apart along with all the other mean machines, gaining people’s hearts in the process. Rallying was great. Sales of the Coupe were great. In fact, by 1985 they were even better, as the car was now offered with four engines: The 135hp 1.8L mesaia GTI engine which ended up being the only 4 cylinder Coupe, a 160hp updated version of the 2.5L inline 5, plus the 180hp turbo inline 5, and finally the Tetra evo 3 and its individual throttle bodies and 215hp. The more the Tetra won Group B races, the more people bought Coupes and Tetras. Everything was going well…
And then Group B died.
Surer injured, his co-driver dead. Santos dead, killing spectators in the process. Toivonen dead. But it’s the death of their own star driver Jean Taglang, half squished, half drowned down a cliff, that made FAAL pull out of Group B entirely… and, actually, drop the Coupe of any form of competition, period.
As a result, thousands of people who bought Coupes for the image without pushing them ever, suddenly found out what this car was all about, I say with the most sarcastic tone ever. Deemed unstable and dangerous by people who drove it shifting at 3000rpm and driving at the speed limit, the FAAL Coupe saw its sales drop month after month for the entirety of 1987. The car was due for a second and final facelift in 1988 including the new FAAL front fascia, with a final version of the Tetra, the Evo 4, that was meant to keep going until the nineties. After the tragedy, none of this happenned.
If 1988 was going to be the last model year for the Coupe, FAAL wanted to make it count. The Tetra Evo 4 was
going to happen. And it was going to be a limited edition. And it was going to kick some serious ass.
Some cues of what would have been the facelift were still integrated in the car, like those new vents in the front bumper…
… and that bigger wing. Apart from that, it’s the same old Tetra. The engine, of course, was updated, and for the last time of its carreer, the Tetra was the testbed of new tech, as the engine was fitted with a juvenile VVT system, making the 255R21MpiT3
reach 230hp. The car itself weighed 1202kg, which was still light despite the car being the heaviest Coupe made.
As for the perfs, of course, it trumped every other Tetra. 5.47s 0-100, 221km/h top speed, 13.86s quarter mile, as well as the nimble handling the car has always been known for.
What was really striking though is the new, four figures paint option, called Tetra Blue
, which is what this press car has. A beautiful blue that seemed to cover the entirety of the blue spectrum depending on how light was shining on it. This color was meant to be the color of future FAAL flagship sportscars. And it deserved it.
There were only going to be one thousand Tetra evo 4s. No more. And only 250 of those were going to be Tetra Blue. Which is why FAAL enthusiasts almost threw a riot when they discovered that the star car featured in The Agile & The Angry (2001) was one of them Tetra Blue evo 4s, and not just a regular Coupe. Granted, it was a salvage title imported illegally in the US… But still.
One emotional goodbye later, the FAAL Coupe left the lineup by november of 1988, without any replacement.
Now the good news: By 1988, FAAL decided to make use of them spare Group B engines in another form of motorsports, to try and boost their sales in the USA: the Trans-Am…
… racing series.
Yup, rules allowed that, apparently. despite everybody at that time using V8s and RWD, FAAL came in strutting around with their 650hp 2.1L turbo inline 5 and AWD, all wrapped in a mean looking facelifted Foreia:
And they kicked some ass.
I’m talking “winning every race they finished” kind of ass kicking. In fact, they kicked so much ass than AWD systems were banned from the regulations for the 1989 Trans-Am season, leaving FAAL to have to retire from the competition, wheezing like immature high schoolers after a sex joke.
The deed was done, though, and sales of cars fitted with the TETRA system suddently doubled in the US after 1988. Like, I wonder where that came from. :t
One last thing happenned in 1988, and that is the release of two concept cars at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris, the first of them to actually be called Mondial de l’Automobile instead of Salon de l’Automobile.
While the entirety of the FAAL lineup at that time were square bois, the competition was starting to round up in prevision of the Blob Era of the nineties. And here comes FAAL, presenting their brand new production ready Mk2 Ochlosia, which was square… and two blobby concept cars: The Stemma and the Tasia.
Yep, that’s a big change in design alright.
The Tasia was meant to showcase a replacement for the aging Mk3 Mesaia. It was essentially drawn with a compass, every single line being round except for the taillights that had to meet with the hatch and therefore couldn’t be fully round.
The entirety of the roof was covered in a matte, grainy material that was similar to what was used on Mk3 Foreias and Coupes’ plastic trims. The wheels were flat dishes with small holes, reminiscent of those used on the Dima concept car back in 1981. The grille looked like an even more modern interpretation of the new post 1987 grille that just came out. And generally, it was nothing like anything FAAL made at that time, which intrigued people a lot. With lots of ageing models, FAAL proved that they were ready to enter the nineties.
And they proved it twice, too:
Now we’re on the luxury side of things with the Stemma
concept car. Yes, it’s a Coupe. No, it’s not meant to replace the FAAL Coupe. In fact, it’s three feet longer than the FAAL Coupe, and it’s fitted with hydropneumatic suspension, and an innovative (and very heavy) panoramic glassed roof.
It’s bringing some innovation to the table too, as it’s fitted with a demo version of the S-Tronic
gearbox, an electronically operated 5 speed torque converter gearbox with a regular driving mode, a sport mode, and a manual mode with + and - push buttons on the steering wheel to change gears.
But what really baffled journalists when they started up the car (because yes, this is a drivable
concept car) was the sound. The car was motorized by a 4.0L V8 engine made out of two 204R20 engines, making 276hp, or more than any reasonably tuned 255R21 engine could ever make. And apparently, FAAL Told the press that the industrialization of such an engine was in the pipes. The rumour grew bigger and bigger that FAAL was about to unleash a Mercedes SL competitor but were quickly shut down by a statement saying that the Stemma concept car was prefiguring the replacement of the Klinos
But there’s two more years of dumping money into R&D until you can see that, though. Coming next, the Mk3 Klinos and blobbifying the brand.