My fiancée recently stumbled upon the Jerry Springer show on TV and I couldn’t believe that the same old crap is still ongoing for 25 years… and that the guy was once the mayor of Cincinnati. Humanity is the universe’s constant in stupidity. This thought became all intertwined with a feeling I got a few months ago after seeing the reaction of people to Audi’s Gruppe S prototype (that was undusted and presented in this year’s Eifel Rallye Festival).
To those who don’t know, the Eifel Rallye Festival is a yearly event in Daun Germany that features vintage/retro rally cars in a non-competitive environment for the nostalgic fans to enjoy. The 2016 edition celebrated the 30th anniversary of Group B’s ultimate year (1986) by featuring more than 60 Group B rally cars. In short, it was the event to attend for any die hard Group B fan. I wish I could have gone but that’s another story entirely.
So, going back to Audi’s Group S prototype, it was a real treat for the fans to be able to finally see it in action more than 30 years after its conception. The story of this car is a very interesting one and if you click on the links I’ve provided in this ramble you can read it for yourself. In brief, it was to be Audi’s future in rallying, penned by Roland Gumpert, but it was shelved with only 12 kms on the odometer. An amazing blend of a Group C-esque racer destined to blast down rally stages that ended up slowly rotating on a stand in Ingolstadt Germany, until this year. The prototype being largely unknown, many people thus went on the internet to learn more about this weird car they had never seen or heard before. Some of them landed on my Rally Group B Shrine and gave it a huge view boost in the following weeks of the event. So I got curious and followed back some links that brought them to my site via my analytics. I honestly expected that anyone remotely a fan of Group B would have nothing but praise to share about this car. I was disappointingly wrong. Most people hated it and wrote a vast array of crap on social media. What? Really? How can this be? How can these people say they are Group B fans?
Then I got sidetracked with another thought that came from my real life and long time friend David’s reaction to my own Wabi~Sabi project. He says he’s a fan of Group B but doesn’t like my project. At first I couldn’t figure it out. The two statements are incompatible. Then I dug deeper and asked him directly. It turns out that he loves the speed and audacity that Group B was but he absolutely despises the styling. He also went on about how Group B didn’t represent itself well with the road cars. To which I promptly stated that he was wrong since the 200 homologation cars were actually fairly close to the actual rally cars. “You’re talking about today’s WRC”, I said, “Those cars are really far off the production cars.” Then it was obvious to me that my friend was in love with Group A, which was in full force when we became friends in the early 90s. These cars were and still are the closest thing you can have to a top level rally car but produced widely enough and cheaply enough for fans to own on the street. Group N somewhat caught up to that in the new millennium. Those are the cars he truly likes, and I respect that. However, I digress…
I reckon that for me, being a real unwavering fan of Group B, you have to like everything about it or you cannot say you are a fan at all. Hell, I even like the less successful manufacturers attempts at creating Group B cars: i.e. the atrocious Citroën BX 4TC. Although it turned out to be a poor competitor (beaten by many lesser Group A cars), I still had inspiration from it when designing my short rear overhang (phase 4A). Maybe it’s my nostalgia talking but I love everything about Group B, including the function before form styling. It was an uncompromising attempt by the engineers and designers of these cars to create the best performer on a rally stage. Some of you know well enough that I am attempting the same thing (but on my own) with my WaBi~SaBi project. This undeniable love and nostalgia for the spirit of the period had me go as far as to “destroy” two cars to achieve my goals. Now that’s being a true fan… with maybe a touch of mental illness.
So, going back to the bad comments people made about Audi’s Gruppe S prototype, it made me remember the eerie similarity to comments made about my own project: mostly uneducated and highly misunderstanding of the effort and spirit. Then I’ve realized that, if people detract so much from an amazing project penned by a major players like Audi and Gumpert, I shouldn’t take their own distaste for my project personally. People are stupid, with a very fleeting sense of respect, and will continue to be so even more with the influence of social media. Hipsters that pretend to love something but are very superficial when it truly comes down to it. The true fans will share my passion. The rest will not. And it’s better this way. This “final thought” has helped me bring more peace of mind about my own project achievements although I have zero intentions of going public ever again with them. I like having privacy in all aspects of my life way too much, these occasional rambles aside.
Thanks, Jerry, you have actually been good for something…