Ford RS200

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Ford RS200
Ford RS200
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
PredecessorMKII Escort RS2000
SuccessorMKV Escort Cosworth
ClassSports car
Body style(s)2-door coupé
LayoutMid-engined four-wheel drive
Engine(s)1.8 L (110 CID) Straight-4
2.1 L Straight-4
ManualsService Manual

The Ford RS200 is a mid-engined, four-wheel drive sports car produced by Ford from 1984 through 1986. The road-going RS200 was based on Ford's Group B rally car and was designed to comply with FIA homologation regulations, which required 200 road legal versions be built. Despite some rumors to the contrary, the RS200 was not based on the European version of the Escort, as were both its predecessor and successor.


Following the introduction of the MKIII Escort in 1980, Ford Motorsport set about development of rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged variant of the vehicle that could be entered into competition in Group B rally racing, and dubbed the new vehicle the Escort RS 1700T. A problem-filled development led Ford to abandon the project in frustration in 1983, leaving them without a new vehicle to enter into Group B. Not wanting to abandon Group B or simply "write off" the cost of developing the failed 1700T, executives decided to make use of the lessons learned developing that vehicle in preparing a new, purpose-built rally car. In addition, Ford executives became adamant that the new vehicle feature all-wheel-drive, an addition they felt would be necessary to allow it the ability to compete properly with all-wheel-drive models from Peugeot and Audi.

RS200 at the Race Retro 2008.

The new vehicle was a unique design, featuring a plastic/fiberglass composite body designed by Ghia, a mid-mounted engine and all-wheel drive. The cars were built on behalf of Ford by another company well known for its expertise in producing fibreglass bodies - Reliant. In order to aid weight distribution, designers mounted the transmission at the front of the car, but this required that power from the mid mounted engine go first up to the front wheels and then be run back again to the rear, creating a complex drive train setup. The chassis was designed by former Formula 1 designer Tony Southgate, and Ford's John Wheeler, a former F1 engineer, aided in early development. A double wishbone suspension setup with twin dampers on all four wheels aided handling and helped give the car what was often regarded as being the best balanced platform of any of the RS200's contemporary competitors. Such was the rush to complete the RS200, the Ford parts bin was extensively raided - the front windscreen and rear lights were identical to those of the early Sierra, for example, while the side windows were cut-down Sierra items.

The mid-engined RS200's engine bay and rear suspension.

Power came from a 1.8 litre, single turbocharged Ford/Cosworth "BDT" engine producing 250 horsepower (190 kW) in road going trim and between 350 and 450 horsepower (340 kW) in racing trim; upgrade kits were available for road-going versions to boost power output to over 300 horsepower (220 kW). Although the RS had the balance and poise necessary to be competitive, its power to weight ratio was poor by comparison and its engine produced notorious low-RPM lag, making it difficult to drive and ultimately less competitive. Factory driver Kalle Grundel's third place finish at the 1986 WRC Rally of Sweden represented the vehicle's best-ever finish in Group B rallying competition, although the model did see limited success outside of the ultra-competitive Group B class. However only one event later, at Rally Portugal, a Ford RS200 was involved in one of the most dramatic accidents in WRC history, claiming the lives of 3 spectators and injuring many others.[1]

RS200 and Audi Quattro S1 competing in rallycross.

The accident at Rally Portugal set off a chain reaction and the RS200 became obsolete after only one full year of competition as the FIA, the governing board which at the time controlled WRC rally racing, abolished Group B after the 1986 season. For 1987, Ford had planned to introduce an "Evolution" variant of the RS200, featuring a development of the BDT engine (called BDT-E) displacing 2137 cc. Power figures for the engine vary quite a bit from source to source, but output claims range from as "little" as 550 horsepower (410 kW) to as high as 800 horsepower (600 kW); it's been said that the most powerful Evolution models can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) in just over 2 seconds, depending on gearing. Upgraded brakes and suspension components were part of the package as well. The ban on Group B racing effectively forced the E2 model into stillbirth; however, about one dozen of them were successfully run from early 1987 till late 1992 in Rallycross events all over Europe, and Norwegian Martin Schanche claimed the 1991 FIA European Championship for Rallycross Drivers with a Ford RS200 E2 that produced over 650 bhp (480 kW).

One RS200 found its way in circuit racing, originated as a roadcar, it was converted to IMSA GTO specification powered by a 750+ BHP 2.0 litre turbo BDTE Cosworth Evolution engine.[2] Competing against the numerous factory backed teams such as Mazda, Mercury and Nissan, with their newly built spaceframe specials, despite being a privateer, the car never achieved any real success to be a serious contender [3][4][5] and was sold off later. The car is now used to compete in the Unlimited category at the Pikes Peak hillclimb.[6]


A blue production RS200.

FIA's homologation rules for Group B cars required the construction of at least 200 road-legal RS200s, and Ford complied, building these 200 vehicles with spare parts for another 20+ units put aside for the racing teams. Those chassis and spare parts were later also used to build a couple of non-genuine, so-called bitsa cars.

A total of 24 of the 200 original cars were reportedly later converted to the so-called "Evolution" models, mostly marked by their owners as "E" or "E2" types. Ford's first intention was to mark the FIA-required 20 "Evo" cars as series numbers 201 to 220 but as this was actually not necessary according to the FIA rules they later kept their original series numbers (eg. 201 = 012, 202 = 146, 203 = 174 etcetera).

The original bodywork tooling for the Ford RS200 was latterly bought by Banham Conversions, who used it to make a kit car version based on the Austin Maestro. Due to being a basic rebody of the Maestro, the Austin-Rover engine ancillaries are actually to be found at the front of the vehicle.

Specification* (Group B Rally car)

RS200 driven at the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The rear of the RS200.


  • Longitudinally mounted, mid-ship, four-wheel drive.
  • Head/block aluminium alloy/aluminium alloy;
  • 4 cylinders in line, Nikasil dry liners,
  • 5 main bearings. Water cooled, electric fan.
  • Bore 86.0 mm (3.38 in),
  • stroke 77.6 mm (3.05 in),
  • capacity 1803 cc (110 CID).
  • Valve gear Dual Overhead Cams, 4 valves per cylinder, toothed belt camshaft drive, Compression ratio 7.2:1. Bosch Motronic engine management system and fuel injection. Garrett T3 turbocharger/boost pressure 23 psi (160 kPa).
  • Max power 450 bhp (PS-DIN) (331 kW ISO) at 8,000 rpm.
  • Max torque 361 lbf·ft (489 N·m) at 5,500 rpm.


  • 5-speed manual, AP twin plate paddle clutch with cerrametallic linings.
Gear Ratio mph/1000 rpm
Top 1.14 13.26
4th 1.36 10.90
3rd 1.68 8.88
2nd 2.14 7.08
1st 3.23 4.72

Final drive: Spiral bevel, ratio 4.375 to transfer ratio of 1.15


  • Front, independent, double wishbones, twin coil springs and telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
  • Rear, independent, double wishbones, twin coil springs and telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar, adjustable toe control link.


  • Rack and pinion, a small quantity of cars also had hydraulic power assistance. Steering wheel diameter 14 in, 1.8 turns lock-to-lock,


Dual circuits, split front/rear. Front 11.8 in (300 mm) diameter ventilated discs. Rear 11.8 in (300 mm) diameter ventilated discs, no vacuum servo. Handbrake, mechanical fly-off and hydraulic centre lever acting on separate, mechanically operated rear calipers.


Ford magnesium alloy, 6–8 in rims (8¾ in and 11 in option for racing tyres). Tyre dependent on conditions (Pirelli Monte Carlo intermediates 245/640 16 on test car), 16" in diameter, pressures dependent on tyres used.

Dimensions and weights

  • Length: 157.5 in (4000 mm)
  • Width: 69.0 in (1752 mm)
  • Height: variable
  • Wheelbase: 99.6 in (2530 mm)
  • Track (Front/Rear): 59.1/58.9 in (1502/1497 mm)
  • Weight: 2315 lb (1050 kg)


For a standard production car, the fastest road-tested acceleration reported at the time occurred in 1993, when a Ford RS200 Evolution went from zero to 26.8 m/s (60 mi/h) in 3.275 seconds. Two separate RS200s have both reported 0-100km/h times of 2.1 seconds.

Top speeds:

Gear mph km/h rpm
Top 118 190 8,900
4th 97 156 8,900
3rd 79 127 8,900
2nd 63 101 8,900
1st 42 68 8,900

Acceleration from rest:

True mph Time (sec)
30 1.2
40 1.8
50 2.2
60 2.8
70 3.8
80 4.8
90 5.9
100 7.3
110 8.7

Standing 1/4-mile: 11.4 sec, 115 mph (185 km/h).

Standing km: N/A

Acceleration (s):

mph Top 4th 3rd 2nd
10-30 - - - -
20-40 - - - -
30-50 - - 2.2 1.2
40-60 - 2.3 1.0 1.1
50-70 2.2 1.4 - -
60-80 1.6 1.5 - -
70-90 1.7 1.6 - -
80-100 2.0 - - -
90-110 2.4 - - -


External links