Image credits: © Ford.

1986 Ford RS200

Ford began development of a rear-wheel drive, turbo-charged version of their MK III Escort (the Escort RS 1700T) for the new Group B rally racing series. As is often the case, development problems arose which ultimately forced Ford to abandon the project. Instead of simply writing off the costs of the failed 1700T, Ford executives made the decision to go in a different direction, and build an all-new, purpose-built rally car. This new vehicle would go head-to-head with the Lancia delta S4 and the Audi Quattro S1 - meaning the new car would require four-wheel drive.

The RS200 was given a composite/fiberglass body styled by Flippo Saprino at the Ghia Design Studio. Formula One designer Tony Southgate designed the chassis along with help from former F1 engineer John Wheeler. Mounting the 1.8-liter Cosworth 'BDT' engine in the middle, and placing the transmission in the front, gave the RS200 excellent balance, even better than its competition.

Complying with FIA homologation rules, Ford planned to build a minimum of 200 examples. 24 of those were given serious upgrades, and dubbed 'Evolution' models. The RS200 Evolution received uprated suspension, brakes and a larger 2.1-liter version of the Cosworth powerplant. At full boost, the RS200 has nearly 600 horsepower and can race from zero-to-sixty in just over 3 seconds.

By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2017

Vehicle Profiles

Evolution Coupe

Chassis Num: SFACXXBJ2CGL00087

This white RS200 is one of those rare Evolution models and has just 5.557 kilometers. The interior has grey carpeting, door inserts, red Sparco seats and a matching red leather XR3i steering wheel. ....[continue reading]

Evolution Coupe

Chassis Num: 106

The Ford RS200 was unveiled to the public in 1984 and built in limited numbers. These purpose-built cars were conceived by Ford Motorsport and were an engineering tour de force. They had an advanced four-wheel drive system, a turbocharged Cosworth en....[continue reading]

Coachwork: Tickford
Designer: Ghia

Chassis Num: SFACXXBJ2CGL00133

The Ford RS 200 was the company's attempt at producing a worthy competitor for the Group B rally class. The RS 200, which stands for 'Rally Sport, 200 built' was the brainchild of Ford U.K. Motorsport director, Stuart Turner. Prior to this, the Ford ....[continue reading]

Evolution Coupe

Chassis Num: SFACXXBJ2CGL00084

Ford UK Motorsport director, Stuart Turner, was the brainchild behind the RS 200 (for Rallye Sport - 200 examples were built). Ford's RS 200 was their entry at contesting the Group B rally series. Their prior entry was the rear-wheel driven, front-en....[continue reading]

Evolution Coupe
Chassis #: SFACXXBJ2CGL00087 
Evolution Coupe
Chassis #: 106 
Coupe by Tickford
Chassis #: SFACXXBJ2CGL00133 
Evolution Coupe
Chassis #: SFACXXBJ2CGL00084 


The Ford RS200 was designed to comply with FIA homologation regulations and based on Ford's Group B Rally car. Homologation rules stated that 200 examples of road going version must be created in order to compete in rally racing. The vehicle was so perfect that it held the Guinness Book of Records for being the world's fastest accelerating car.

The vehicle was created by Ford of Britain. It was based heavily on the European version of the Escort though its chassis was designed by a former Formula 1 designer named Tony Southgate. John Wheeler used his F1 engineering background to aid in the development. The vehicle was given all-wheel-drive and a mid-mounted engine. Weight-distribution was further improved by placing the transmission at the front of the car. Production lasted from 1984 through 1986. The body was constructed of a plastic and fiberglass composite and designed by the legendary firm, Ghia. The suspension was made up of a double wishbone setup with twin dampers on all wheels. The engine was a l.8 liter Ford four-cylinder unit with Cosworth modifications. A turbocharger helped produce 250 horsepower for the road-going versions and around 350 for the racing versions. Though some of the racing engines were highly tuned and produced horsepower in the 400 through 450 range.

Ford created the 200 road-going versions of the RS200 in compliance with FIA rules. They created additional spare parts which could have created in excess of twenty extra vehicles. These parts were ear-marked for the racing efforts.

With a potent engine, lightweight construction, excellent weight distribution and all-wheel drive the Ford RS200 was theoretically the ultimate machine. In reality, it lagged in the power-to-weight ratio in comparison to other vehicles. Also, the engine produced low-RPM lag which made it difficult to be competitive.

The Ford RS200 best finish in Group B rallying competition came in 1986 at the WRC Rally of Sweden where it placed third. It did achieve mild success in other classes outside of Group B competition and it may have seen more in the Group B class but after one year of racing, the FIA disbanded the Group B and the RS200 became obsolete. The decision to disband came after Herni Toivonen and co-driver Sergio Crestos died in an accident at the 1986 Tour de Course. Officials made the decision that the cars were too fast and posed to many safety risks. This was unfortunate on many fronts. The Group B racing was very competitive and just as exciting. To combat their shortcomings, Ford had planed on resolving the vehicles problems with the introduction of an 'Evolution' version. The upgraded engine was estimated to produce between 525 and 800 horsepower. The rest of the vehicles components were to receive attention such as the suspension, brakes, chassis, and more. Zero-to-sixty was estimated to take around two seconds.

Out of the 200 examples created, around 24 were later converted to the 'Evolution' status.

By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2006
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