- 1 Ford RS200 – The Iconic Group B Rally Legend
Ford RS200 – The Iconic Group B Rally Legend
The Ford RS200 is a mid-engined rally car that Ford developed in the 1980s to compete in the exciting Group B era of rally racing. Only 200 road-going RS200s were built to meet homologation requirements, making the RS200 one of the most rare and valuable Group B cars today.
Ford RS200 Origins and Development
Ford wanted to move beyond the rear-wheel-drive Escort platform and create an advanced new rally car to challenge the likes of the Audi Quattro. Work began on the RS200 in 1984, with Formula 1 designer Tony Southgate heading up the project. The RS200 featured a lightweight composite body shell, a mid-mounted 1.8L turbocharged engine, and a four-wheel drive system. Ford’s new Rallye Sport arm handled development duties.
Innovative Technology for Competition
The RS200 was packed with innovative competition technology. The mid-engine layout placed the powerplant low behind the cockpit for ideal weight distribution. The four-wheel drive system offered advanced torque splitting to direct power as needed between axles. The suspension system provided long travel and adaptable damping for rally conditions. Ford also tested their new Formula 1-derived electronic engine management system for optimal turbo power delivery.
Impressive Ford RS200 Performance Potential
In road specification, the 1.8L turbocharged engine delivered 250 horsepower, allowing 0-60 mph acceleration in just over 4 seconds and a top speed of over 130 mph – a blistering pace in the mid-1980s. In evolved race trim, power output climbed as high as over 600 hp. Combined with its advanced drivetrain and low 1090 kg weight, the RS200 could hit 60 mph in under 3 seconds. This performance potential made the RS200 a formidable competitor in its day.
Short-Lived Group B Competition
The RS200 briefly competed in the Group B era in 1986, driven by notable pilots like Stig Blomqvist, Kalle Grundel and Didier Auriol. However, following several major crashes and spectator fatalities, Group B was canceled abruptly in 1986. With only one full season of competition, the RS200 never realized its full Group B potential. However, it still impressed with podium finishes in its brief career.
Post Group B Rallycross Success
Although its top rallying days were cut short, the RS200 found later success in rallycross. It won over 20 European rallycross events over several seasons, proving its durability and performance. Top drivers like Martin Schanche and Kenneth Hansen piloted the RS200 to rallycross fame against other Group B veterans. The rallycross RS200s produced over 800 hp – showcasing the capabilities of the RS200 platform.
Road Car Variants
Alongside the 200 normally aspirated RS200s built for homologation, Ford produced another 24 examples dubbed the RS200 Evo. These featured the more powerful rallycross-spec engine producing over 550 hp along with modified aero. With a 0-60 mph time around 3 seconds, the Evo road car equaled supercars of the era. Only a few of these ultra-rare Evo models remain today.
Ford RS200 Legacy and Collectability
In the decades since its launch, the Ford RS200 has become one of the most revered Group B rally icons. Its cutting-edge technology, mid-engine layout, and Ford heritage help make it highly valued today. Good condition RS200s can fetch over $500,000 at auction. For Group B collectors and rally enthusiasts, the RS200 represents the pinnacle of Ford’s rally engineering achievements. It brought race-bred innovation to the road and still impresses with its performance capabilities nearly 40 years on.