A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £182,250
Ford had been working on a turbocharged machine that could compete with the new breed of Group B Rally cars like the Audi Sport Quattro, Peugeot 205 T16, the Lancia Delta, and their remarkable 037. Unusually for Ford, the solution proved elusive and, with the Escort RS 1700T failing miserably, they were forced to return to the drawing board and start all over again. The result was the RS200. However, Ford had now become ‘late starters' and was effectively three years behind. The car was styled by Ghia and, unusually, the bodywork was entrusted to a company who knew a fair bit about building fibreglass cars.... Reliant. The chassis engineering was looked after by F1 gurus Tony Southgate and John Wheeler. Ford bosses demanded that it must have four-wheel drive and it was built around a space frame chassis, Kevlar bodywork, and a potent mid-mounted engine courtesy of well-proven race engine builder Brian Hart. Add to this an innovative front-mounted gearbox for better weight distribution and balance plus a variable torque split differential from Ferguson and you had a real beast of a car. The result was spectacular. At the peak of its powers in the hands of star drivers like Stig Blomqvist the larger 2.1 litre Evo engine was claimed to be pushing out around 650bhp, it was rumoured that even 700/800bhp was used. It looked like Ford finally had the package to win and things were looking promising after Kalle Grundell came home 3rd in the Swedish Rally of 1986. However, the fickle finger of fate was soon to be pointed at Group B. Tragedy struck on the opening stage of the Portuguese Rally when Joaquim Santos lost control of his RS200 and sadly three people died with many others injured. Marc Surer also crashed his RS200 in the Hessen Rally killing his co-driver. This was the beginning of the end for 'Group B' Rallying and the final nail in the coffin was hammered in when Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto lost their lives on the Tour de Corse when their Lancia Delta left the road. This really was the end of Group B, and it was also the end of an era for the fastest, most dangerous, most spectacular period in modern rallying. As a result, after just one year in competition, it was all over for the RS200 so it never got to show off its full potential, however, it did prove that it had enormous promise with many of the cars being spectacularly successful in Rallycross particularly in the hands of Norwegian Martin Schanche.
FIA Homologation Rules for Group B required the construction of at least 200 road-legal vehicles and Ford complied with this building 200 units. It seems that six were classified as 'prototypes', so only 194 actually left the factory 46 of which were dismantled for spares, whilst just 90 of the cars built were converted and sold as road cars.
The RS200 offered here is number 184/196 and has only covered 1,195 miles from new (atoc). It was originally supplied to Ronald Hodgson, a dealer principal who kept it in his showroom unused and unregistered until 1993. An appropriate registration number became available and, obviously the temptation became too much, so the car was put on the road and used sparingly putting a thousand or so miles on it. Since then it has been owned by two collectors and correctly stored as part of two very significant collections.
Recently it has been authenticated by Justin Smith, the respected RS200 aficionado who eulogised positively and confirmed that it was a factory-built car and, prior to the auction, his report will be available to interested buyers. On inspection, the overall condition is commensurate with the mileage, the engine and all visible components look delivery fresh and the interior appears unmarked with the optional red seats and steering wheel. Having not run for a while, it might be advisable for any new owner to have it checked over prior to starting it up. It still sits on its original OE fit 225/50/VR16 Pirelli P700 tyres and perfect Speedline 8x16-inch, eight-spoked alloys and carries original promotional Ford Dealer window stickers. The toolkit is complete and the history file contains a copy of the original sales brochure, the RS200 embossed service manual and a parts manual.
Probably the most evocative Group B rally car of its generation, this stunning, low mileage RS200 is a must for any collection as the Group B story just keeps gaining inertia with enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Video of the Ford RS200