Group 5 racing ran from 1966 through to 1982, but it’s peak was in its fourth generation that began with new regs introduced for the 1976 season. Those regulations—or, rather, the lack of them—gave automakers pretty much free reign to produce the sexiest, fastest, meanest sounding production cars in history.
This was the “Special Production Car” era and those regs would prove wildly popular around the globe. Not surprising given their simplicity: if your car was homologated in FIA Group 1 through 4, and if you kept the hood, roof, and doors spec’, you could create any beast you wanted for Group 5 action.
And that meant Group 5 cars grew wings. Literally. And also wheel arches, super-long spoilers, big-fat fire-spitting turbos and twin-turbos, and some of the most delightfully garish liveries you’ll ever see—liveries that scream the ’70s like the cover of a glam rock band’s LP.
Nowadays, Group 5’s popularity has waned, these cars and that era taking a backseat to the new-found love for Group B that replaced it. That’s unfortunate because Group 5 produced some of the world’s most brash, loud, raw racing cars that were pushing out ludicrous amounts of horsepower along with gobs of turbo lag. These were full-blown racing cars sheathed in lightweight bodies featuring aero accoutrements that were bigger than your mother’s flared pants, wider than your dad’s shirt-collar, and more trippy than a band-full of 1970s leather-and-lace-clad rockers.
Project CARS 2 has a few of these monsters, and while many didn’t run in the same series back then, that’s no reason why you shouldn’t get them together in-game for some fire-breathing, ear-splitting, eye-candy mischief, the likes of which the world will never again get to experience outside of Project CARS 2.
BMW 320 Turbo Group 5
The snowplow front end; the sweeping, endless rear wing; the massively flared wheel-arches; the classic BMW box-shape; and under all that show, an absolutely stonking 2-litre M12 turbocharged inline-4 engine pushing out 600 menacingly-sounding horses.
This was one of the first of the 4th Gen Group 5 monsters, making its debut in 1977 with that striped M-sport BMW livery running all the way from hood to rear creating an immediate icon that lives strong to this day. That engine was taken directly from BMW’s then F2 program, and it was tamed by a full-bore racing chassis and young driving talents that would all go on to fame and glory—BMW’s own Marc Surer, Manfred Winkelhok, and Eddie Cheever (and his eventual replacement, Bruno Giacomelli, who’d win the European Championship title) along with a host of world-class talent who’d take this car to victory lane around the world: Gilles Villeneuve, Derek Bell, and Ronnie Peterson amongst them.
The BMW 320 Group 5 had it all—poise, power, and looks. It would have won everything in its wake had it not been for its one great nemesis.
Ford Zakspeed Capri Group 5
If you need a quick primer on what Group 5 racing was all about in the late-’70s and early-’80s, just take a good look at the Ford Zakspeed Capri from 1980. Of all the cars from that era, this was the prototypical example that featured it all; a soul-stirring cacophony under the hood, raked silhouette, massive wings, spoilers, and wheel arches, and, of course, stacks of turbo-lagging ’80s turbocharging.
The German touring car championship was an early adopter of Group 5 regs, and Ford were quick to spot the potential. Ford got on the phone with their long-time race partners Zakspeed and commissioned them to race-prep the new ‘78 model Capri for Group DRM racing.
That meant creating an aluminum-tube chassis weighing in at 70kg, and a car that came in at just 800KGs and was powered by a KKK-turbocharged and fuel-injected 1.4-litre engine pushing out a raucous 350hp.
By the time 1980 came along—which is the variant you get to race in Project CARS 2—things had been amped-up a lot further. The Project CARS 2 variant is pushing out around 600hp from a 1.7-litre engine, and hidden under that gorgeous action-hero-muscle Kevlar-aero body was a whole network of tunnels to create an early version of a ground effects car.
The Zakspeed Capri was a winner right off the bat, and eventually claimed the overall DRM championship in 1981 with Klaus Ludwig at the wheel.
Nissan KDR30 Super Silhouette
To say the Japanese fell in love with Group 5 is to underuse the word love: kaido drivers and the whole bosozoku culture pay tribute to these cars to this day, and the Hasemi Motorsport DR30 Skyline is surely the king of all Silhouette racers.
Group 5 regs were universally adopted back in the late ’70s, with tuners such as Zakspeed doing their magic in Europe (and the US with the Mustang), while BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari ripped up the tracks in Europe.
Meanwhile in Japan Group 5 were the regs used for the Japanese Super Silhouette Series which somehow found a way to take the wildness of what Group 5 was doing everywhere else and injected it with steroids. Bigger turbos, bigger aero, bigger wings, bigger noise, and piles of sweet-sounding, evil-handling turbo lag.
The Nissan DR30 was a racing chassis hidden under enormous aero that included the must-have snowplow (look at the size of it!) front-end spoiler along with the riveted-onto-rear pure-metal wing. It then added fenders the size of dreams along with a really aggressive slant and side-exhausts that were guaranteed to spit out flames whenever a driver even looked at the shifter. And by spitting, we’re talking five seconds worth of dragon-fire!
The LZ20B engine was of course turbocharged with around 590hp of pure turbo-lagging horror. This car made a legend of Masahiro Hasemi, and it’ll do the same for you—if you learn to tame it!
The Porsche 935 was Group 5’s Tyrannosaurus Rex; in a world of predators, the 935 was the one everyone feared. With variants pushing 750hp by the 1980s—that from a flat-6 twin-turbo—the 935 was as quick as it was difficult to drive on the limit. Not surprising, of course, given the 935 was built around the base of the road-going 911s by legendary Porsche engineer Norbert Singer.
The Project CARS 2 variants include the 935/77 version that came with two KKK turbochargers that was pushing around 630hp and just devoured the German touring car division 1 series (while the Ford Zakspeed Capri and BMW 320s were battling it out in the under 2-litre division).
Then Singer got to work on “Moby Dick”, a car capable of hitting 365kmh down the Mulsanne. In all, four Group 5 Porsche 935s are available in Project CARS 2, including the two from the Porsche Legends Pack.
That fat rear-end coupled with the sound of the flat-6 made this the ultimate Group 5 runner, and for many the ultimate production race car in history.
Nissan 280ZX IMSA GTX
The Nissan 280ZX IMSA GTX came with a twin-turbo 4.5L V-8 engine that produced 700hp. It was driven by one of Hollywood’s greatest stars, and it sounded as fearsome as it handled. Used in the US in IMSA racing, this was the car that pretty much made Nissan’s name in US racing circles and built its brand after the change from Datsun. An absolute legend—and an American legend at that—it was as beautiful and it was quick.
So which of these Group 5 runners will you choose? Online or single player, you can run these Group 5 beasts together at any track you choose in Project CARS 2 to create what is, surely, the most evocative era in the history of production car racing.
Have fun getting to grips with them and let us know which is your favorite Group 5 monster.