Features

Just looking – Ford RS200

The announcement of more aggressive WRC cars has us hunting for an old Group B legend

Earlier this week, World Rally Championship organisers revealed outline plans for the next generation of WRC cars, due to make their debut in 2017.

The new vehicles will have more power than the current cars, and feature belligerent bodywork aimed at making the cars more dramatic to look at.

With extra length and width to the body, it could give us some of the most dramatic rally cars since the Group B era. What it won’t give us are true homologation specials, such as those popular throughout Group B, Group A and earlier WRC regulations.

Of these, Group B is remembered most fondly – and for good reason. Manufacturers were required to produce just 200 cars for homologation purposes. In automotive terms, that’s a tiny number. Without the need to meet the needs of wide range of consumers, manufacturers designed some of the craziest vehicles ever seen in racing.

From the mid-engined, V6 Austin Metro 6R4 to the sleek, low-slung Lancia 037, Group B cars were as far removed from their base vehicles as a DTM car is from the common-or-garden C-Class or Audi A4.

But those cars bore at least loose resemblance to road cars in each manufacturer’s lineup; the Ford RS200 was quite unlike any Escort or similarly humble Ford.

Like the 6R4, Ford chose a mid-mounted layout for the RS200. It also used a four-wheel drive layout, while the composite body was designed by Ghia and assembled by Reliant. Sitting behind the driver was a 1.8-litre, Cosworth-fettled four-pot. Its 250bhp arrived as the engine spun to 6500rpm, shortly after a 215lb ft crest in the torque curve at 4500-5000rpm.

Rally versions, naturally, produced a great deal more than that – about 200bhp more, in fact. Sadly, the death of Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto at Corsica in 1986 marked the last of several incidents that brought about Group B’s downfall. The cars were too fast, too dangerous.

The RS200’s history lasted just two years, though the car was subsequently popular in rallycross, which became home, and grave, to many Group B legends.

The rate of attrition means examples like this RS200 at Joe Macari Performance Cars in Wandsworth (via Classic and Performance Car) are now very rare indeed.

They also command a healthy sum - £245,000 in this case – but with just 3650 miles on the odometer and in immaculate condition, it’s hard to disagree with such a price. These days, you’re more likely to see a rally-prepared RS200 than a road car too, so the premium can be explained on rarity value alone.

One thing is for sure – no 2017 WRC car will command quite as much respect as the RS200 and its Group B brethren.

> Find Ford RS200s for sale on Classic and Performance Car

Recommended

Best used cars to buy now
Best used cars to buy now 2021 main
used cars

Best used cars to buy now

Want a used performance car that’s great to drive and affordable? Whatever your budget, we’ve got some suggestions for you
19 Jan 2021
Cheap fast cars 2020 – the best budget performance cars on the market
used cars

Cheap fast cars 2020 – the best budget performance cars on the market

The cheap fast car is a wonderful thing, if you buy right and do your research. These are our favourites from £1000 to £10,000
4 Jun 2020
Lancia Hyena Zagato joins Jalpa, RS500 and more at Race Retro auction
used cars

Lancia Hyena Zagato joins Jalpa, RS500 and more at Race Retro auction

Striking cars from Zagato and more are the stars of the next Silverstone Auctions sale
7 Feb 2020

Most Popular

Naturally aspirated engines – best of the breed from 4-pots to V12s
Naturally aspirated engines - group
Supercars

Naturally aspirated engines – best of the breed from 4-pots to V12s

The naturally aspirated engine is capable of stirring emotions a turbocharged motor can only dream of. We celebrate the best of the breed.
22 Jan 2021
Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year
Type 131 render
Lotus

Lotus Type 131 production confirmed for this year

All-new sports car to rival the iconic Porsche 911 and set the blueprint for Lotus's future models
25 Jan 2021
Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS: history, specs and buying guide
Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS buying guide
Ferrari

Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS: history, specs and buying guide

With a little help from a certain private eye, the 308 GTB/GTS would become Ferrari’s best-selling model. Here’s our essential guide
25 Jan 2021