Of all motorsport competitions in the world, the World Rally Championship is arguably the most difficult to win. To win, your car must be fast not only on asphalt, but also in off-road situations. ford always wanted to compete at the highest level with European automakers, so decided to become one of the few American automakers in the rallying world.
World Rally Championship. In the early ’80s, the FIA introduced the Group B rally class, which allowed automakers to build some of the fastest, most powerful and most demanding rally cars of all time. The Escort RS1800 couldn’t compete against the Group B heavyweights, so Ford went back to the drawing board and came up with the fantastic RS200. Let’s examine ten facts that show why the RS200 is so iconic.Ford’s first rally car was the Escort RS1800, which quickly made history when it won the 1979
10 A purpose built rally car
In the late ’70s, Ford Motorsport began work on a turbocharged, rear-wheel drive version of the Escort RS1800 for inclusion in Group B rallying. Unfortunately, the project was fraught with frustrations that forced Ford to abandon it in 1984.
But rather than give up altogether, Ford decided to use the lessons it learned developing the failed vehicle to build a new, purpose-built rally car from the ground up. The result was the RS200.
9 A unique design
Ford wanted the RS200 to have a proper design that would look cool and help it increase its racing performance, so they hired the famous Ghia Design Studio to work on it. Ghia didn’t disappoint as it boasted one of the most unique designs of the ’80s.
Aside from the Sierra windscreen and taillights, the RS200 bore no resemblance to existing Ford models. The body was made of a plastic-fiberglass composite to save weight and increase performance.
8th Complex powertrain setup
In most mid-engine sports cars, the gearbox is located in the middle so that the power can reach the wheels as quickly as possible. That was not the case with the RS200.
For better weight distribution, the designers decided to front-mount the gearbox. So the power of the mid-engine would flow first to the front wheels and then back to the rear wheels.
7 A powerhouse
Group B is widely regarded as the golden era of rallying as it produced some of the greatest rally cars of all time, including the Audi Quattro and the Porsche 959. Ford knew it was going to be up against some incredibly fast rally cars, so it developed a proper engine , which could do the job well.
The engine Ford chose was a 1.8-liter inline-four with Bosch fuel injection and a Garrett turbocharger. It produced 250 hp in street trim and up to 450 hp in race trim.
6 An off-road sports car
Before the Group B era, rally cars typically used a rear-wheel drive configuration. Ford also planned to use the same configuration in their Group B car when they first developed the Escort RS 1700T concept in 1981.
However, by the time Ford decided to build the RS200 a few years later, things had changed and the rallying world was dominated by four-wheel drive Audis and Peugeots. Therefore, Ford executives decided that the RS200 had to have an all-wheel drive system to be competitive.
5 Difficult to control
The RS200 had almost all the elements to be a dominant Group B racer. It was extremely powerful, had an aerodynamic design and all-wheel drive. However, it had some issues that made it difficult to control and ultimately less competitive.
For one thing, the RS200, while well balanced, had a poor power-to-weight ratio compared to its rivals. Its engine was also known to produce lag at low revs, which made it easy for drivers to lose control.
4 A catastrophic accident
We love the RS200, but it will always be associated with some of the worst crashes in motorsport history. In 1986 the RS200 was involved in a catastrophic accident that killed three spectators and injured many others at the Rally de Portugal.
The same year, another RS200 was crashed into a tree by Swiss driver Mark Surer at the Hessen Rally, killing his co-driver Michel Wyder instantly.
3 Group B Killers
Following the RS200’s involvement in the above accidents, the FIA was forced to re-examine Group B. As the Group B cars became faster and more powerful when Porsche joined, the safety of drivers and spectators became increasingly compromised.
To prevent further accidents, the FIA abolished Group B rallying at the end of the 1986 season. Although the end of Group B forced Ford to discontinue the RS200, some cars continued to compete in other European motorsport events including the FIA European Rallycross Championship and the IMSA GTO.
2 It’s extremely rare
Part of the reason gearheads love the RS200 so much is that it’s one of the rarest Fords of all time. Group B homologation rules required Ford to build 200 street-legal examples of the RS200, which it did.
20 of the 200 original copies were later converted to the “Evolution” models. Thanks to an increase in displacement and other engine upgrades, the RS200 produced almost 600 hp and was therefore insanely fast.
1 A coveted collector’s item
Ford has built many iconic cars over the years, but few of them are as coveted by collectors as the RS200. From a collector’s perspective, there’s a lot to love about the RS200. For one, it’s one of the few rally cars built specifically for Group B.
The RS200 is also incredibly powerful, delivering an experience like no other, whether on paved roads or off-road. It’s also a rare find. For these reasons, the RS200 can easily fetch half a million dollars at auction.