The Group B Rally Success (1982-1986)
The FIA Group B rally was launched in 1982. Tanaka wanted to participate. The thing is, they had designed a prototype of a compact mid-engine car in 1980. They thought it was perfect for the Group B rally.
Tanaka Trinity Turbo shown
In 1982, the Tanaka Trinity Turbo was revealed. It was under a ton and it was small and nimble. 200 of these are built each year. It produced 259HP from the factory from its turbocharged Inline-4. It weighed 896kg. The car was also not crazy expensive. It is a RWD only car.
Tanaka Trinity Group B shown
At the same year, the rally versions raced through the rally stages. But the problem is that the car was too light to compete to fit in the engine and weight regulations. So, they had to shrink their engine displacement to 1785cc. Despite this, they managed to squeeze out 330HP. The lighter parts and stripped out interior decreased the weight to 896kg. The suspension was raised by a tiny bit, a new rear wing, and a medium compound rally tires. In that category, the Trinity was very competitive. It had podium finishes.
In 1985, the Trinity was not competitive anymore. AWD cars are beating the Trinity. Tanaka tried to fit an AWD system, but failed to do so. Unfortunately, this means that the Trinity stopped production and stopped competing in Group B. Lucky for them, they had the perfect car in production.
| 1 - Tanaka SFM4 2.0 B | 2 - Tanaka SFM4 2.0 S | 3 - Tanaka SFM4 2.0 Turbo |
This is the Tanaka SFM4. This is an experimental sports car they sold to the public. This car is showcasing their 4-wheel-steering system in preparation to release a bigger sports car (spoiler alert!). The 2.0 B and 2.0 S weighed 947kg and 945kg respectively. The 2.0 Turbo however weighed 1023kg. That means that the twin turbos from their Boxer 4 engine is increasing the weight of the car. The 2.0 B produces 142HP, the 2.0 S produces 153HP and the 2.0 Turbo produces 236HP. The 2.0 Turbo has wider fenders to fit wider tires. All of them are RWD. But, that was not enough. Tanaka wanted a faster AWD version of it.
Tanaka SFM4 Turbo B shown
This is the 2.1 Turbo B (B for Group B). This is their homoligation model. It is a lot heavier with the AWD system. It now weighed 1116kg. There is a new wing, new side skirts and rear bumper. The boxer 4 now produces 315HP. This, with the AWD system, enables the car go from 0-60mph in 7.03 seconds. The car can also do 1.10 g’s in a 20m radius circle. The engine displacement was increased to 2140cc. Of course, 200 units are produced each year.
Tanaka SFM4 Group B shown
This is the rally version. No liveries yet. The fenders are as wide as they can be and a new body kit was created just for this car. Its front bumper is very unique and distinct. The wing on the Turbo B was replaced by a bigger wing. The engine now makes 517HP. But the increased power caused the car to be heavier and has a bigger turbo lag with the bigger turbos. That means that the drivers need to keep their RPM high in order to use all its power. Its current weight is 1140kg even with lighter parts and a stripped out interior. Its most notable feature of the car is a vent ending the rear box fenders. Now, many replicas of the rear fender exists everywhere. Rally parts were added. Now, Tanaka was very competitive in the rally. This ended in 1986 when Group B was cancelled because of a lot of crashes. The production of the SFM4 also stopped in 1986. This marked the end of Tanaka’s fastest rally cars. Today, the SFM4 are popular with tuners.
Tanaka Trinity Turbo and Tanaka SFM4 Turbo B shown together in Castello, Italy…