Ford RS200 ‘S’ Just 1,200 Miles From New
ADVERT ID: 21992
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Ford RS200 ‘S’ A masterpiece of an ‘homologation special’, this is one of 20 built to 350bhp ‘S’ specification featuring improved air flow and an exceptionally rare ‘Rally Spec’ transmission and has covered just 1,932km (1,200 miles) from new.
Ask any rally fan to name their favourite era and chances are that the wild Group B years will be at the top of most people’s list. It was a time of uncompromising and completely unhinged machinery, with designers and engineers really pushing the envelope when it came to interpreting the rules and endowing these four-wheel-drive turbocharged monsters with the maximum possible performance. Perhaps the wildest of them all was Ford’s RS200 and where the Audi Quattro, Peugeot 205 T16 and even the Lancia Delta S4 were very obviously derived from their more mundane production cousins, Ford took a different route, designing and building a Group B car that looked – and drove – like no other Ford before or since.
Ford had, of course, been part of the rallying furniture ever since the rear-drive Escort made its debut, but as the WRC entered the Group B era, it found itself without a machine to compete at this level. Unusually for Ford, the solution proved elusive and, with the Escort RS1700T failing miserably, they were forced to return to the drawing board and start all over again and the result was the RS200. Produced by Ford Motorsport in Boreham from 1984-1986, the plastic-fibreglass composite body was designed by Filippo Sapino of Ghia Design Studio and, unusually, the bodywork for the majority of cars was entrusted to Reliant of Shenstone, a company who knew a fair bit about building fibreglass cars. The chassis engineering was looked after by F1 gurus, Tony Southgate and John Wheeler. Naturally, four-wheel-drive was essential, and it was built around a space-frame chassis, Kevlar bodywork, and a potent mid-mounted engine courtesy of well-proven race engine builder Brian Hart. Add to this an innovative front-mounted gearbox for better weight distribution and balance, plus a variable torque-split differential from Ferguson, and you have a serious rally car. The RS200’s mid-mounted engine was a development of the RS1700T, but capacity was increased to 1,803cc with a bore and stroke of 86.0 and 77.62mm respectively. It featured Ford/Bosch injection and, with an 8.2:1 compression ratio allied with a Garrett turbocharger in road-going trim, it developed 246bhp at 6,500-7,000rpm and a maximum torque output of 215lb/ft at 4,000-5,000rpm. The rally cars had significantly more to play with – 444bhp at a screaming 8,000rpm and 361lb/ft at 5,500rpm.
Ford had now become ‘late starters’ and were effectively three years behind, but it finally looked like they had a winning package after Kalle Grundell came home third in the Swedish Rally of 1986. However, the fickle finger of fate was soon to be pointed at Group B and, after a series of tragedies with both drivers and spectators being killed, it became obvious that 600bhp, lightweight rally cars being threaded at three-figure speeds through banks of standing spectators was not the way forward, and the decision was taken by the FIA to pull the plug on Group B at the end of the 1986 season. As a result, after just one year in competition, it was all over for the RS200 so it never got to show off its full potential, however, despite being pushed off the WRC stage, the RS200 was hugely competitive and experienced great success elsewhere in the hands of Stig Blomqvist, Malcolm Wilson, Mark Rennison and Mark Lovell, who clinched the British Rally Championship with his RS200 and more success in Rallycross, taking victories across Europe and winning back-to-back championships in the British Rallycross Championship in 1987 and 1988 with Mark Rennison.
FIA Homologation Rules for Group B required the construction of at least 200 road-legal vehicles, however, the demise of Group B meant that only 144 were completed. Of these, 20 were sold to Canadian Murray DeWert who’s plan was to develop them further and create “the best RS200s ever”. Subsequently known as the RS200 ‘S’ or ‘Evolution’, they were fitted with several upgrades including electric windows, a more comfortable Tickford interior, improved air flow and ducting, air intakes – often referred to as ‘ears’- above the doors at the back of the roof as per the competition cars and, importantly, an increase in power from 250bhp to 350bhp. Make no mistake, the RS200 S was blisteringly fast, with 0-60 taking just 3.8s.
Believed to have been the 16th RS200 ‘S’, this example is #164 and was first delivered to West German dealer, Stefan Schollwoek in left-hand drive with a rally specification dog-clutch selector, which allows the driver to control the four-wheel-drive torque split with a secondary gearstick. Schollwoek purchased four examples of the RS200 ‘S’, #111, #137, #153 and #164, the latter being sold to a German collector who registered it in Germany under a company named ‘Primrose’. We understand from the Ferrari-trained mechanic employed to look after the cars, Giovanni Petrozziello, that #164 had entered the collection in the early 1990s. Our vendor purchased the car to add to their outstanding collection in 2015, but never registered it here in the UK. However, the vendor has always ensured it was kept in good running and driving order.
The history file is fairly bare, as is to be expected of a car that has only covered 1,932km since new, but it does include a copy of the German registration document, a brief summary and photographs of the car of the car prior to our vendor’s purchase, and original additional support pads for the seats. It’s presented in remarkably original and very good condition throughout and retains the correct grey trim with red Recaro sports seats and matching red leather steering wheel.
As one of only 20 of these bespoke ‘S’ models and with just 1,200 gentle miles covered in the last 35 years, #164 would certainly occupy pride of place in any exclusive collection of RS Fords and, should its next owner choose to use the car on the road, they would enjoy a seriously quick, totally competent, lightweight sports car that appears relatively civilised, however, underneath that gleaming Diamond White paintwork, its DNA is undoubtedly pure ‘Group B’.
RACE RETRO CLASSIC AND COMPETITION CAR SALE 2023
We are delighted to be returning to Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on the 24th – 26th February. Race Retro brings together over 24,000 fans, drivers and enthusiasts at the start of the competition car calendar for a weekend of all things motorsport. As the shows official auction partner for the 11th year, we are now inviting entries for what promises to be a magnificent, dedicated sale of Classic and Competition Cars.