Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Ford RS200: I'll buy American!

"Buy American" isn't something people think much of these days and it shows.
However, perhaps things would be different, if this were, you know, 1984 and, well, Europe.

Ford, however, had an excellent product to market in 1984 with its Group B homologation special the RS200. After a failed, flawed attempt to produce a follow-up Escort rally car, Ford decided to turn lemons into lemonade - taking the failed program and working to bring something salvageable to Group B. In doing so, Ford put together a dynamite mid-mounted engine with the then-new permanent four-wheel-drive to do battle with the dominating Audi Quattro already making a name for itself in rallying.

Engine wizards Cosworth (See Cosworth DFV engine for a glimpse at their excellent products) managed to get their hands on the turbocharged 1.8L 4 banger and tuned it out 350 to 450 HP depending on how and when it was tuned. Road cars delivered a potent 250HP with optional kits to tune out similar power. However, in 1986 at the height of Group B racing, the RS200, which proved to be somewhat uncompetitive, was involved in two horrific crashes which ultimately led to the FIA disbanding the Group B series, the reason the RS200 was created.

With the death of Group B for 1987 and Ford's continued development of the Evolution model of the RS200 it seemed the life of the little Ford was coming to an untimely end. However, the FIA that nearly killed the RS200 ultimately saved it with the advent of the European Championship for Rally Drivers with the 650HP RS200 Evolution aiding Martin Schanche in clinching the 1991 European Rallycross title. However, by 1992, after an attempt at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb record, the RS200 found itself at the end of its life cycle - going into racing history as an incredible, frighteningly powerful all-wheel-drive car that stood toe-to-toe with the likes of other insane Group B rally cars.

However, that still left the 200 or so homologated road going cars. Many of the cars can still be found on sale today with the original output of 250HP being tuned out via kits to produce horsepower closer to the race-spec engines. Beyond that, many owners eventually upgraded the car's suspension, brakes and engine via more kits that duplicated some of what Ford had put into the RS200 Evolution. In terms of these cars, the vast majority are found in Europe though, occasionally, an RS200 can be spied for sale in the United States. However, if you would like to pick up one of the historic rally cars - you can expect to drop a minimum of $200,000 for this little piece of history!

Check these videos below for the history of the RS200:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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