1986 Ford RS 200 review - Toybox

By: Alex Affat, Photography by: Dutton Garage

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ford rs 200 rear ford rs 200 rear
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ford rs 200 seats ford rs 200 seats
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Group B may have been cut short, but not before giving the world some of the most unhinged road-going racers in history

 

1986 Ford RS 200

Group B regulations were implemented by the FIA in 1983 and, before its disbandment in 1986, gave birth to some of the most iconic and unhinged road-going racers in automotive history.

For motorsport fans, the period also represents a golden era where uninhibited design and engineering was matched equally by those brave pilots who became legends in the face of lethal danger.

Ford had already established itself throughout the 70s as a mainstay in rally competition with its Escort. With Group B announced in 1978, Ford initially intended to design a new Escort named the RS 1700T.

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Despite two-years of development, the RS 1700T was ultimately scrapped due to various problems as well as the observation that all-wheel drive technology (pioneered by Audi’s game-changing Quattro) was now virtually essential if manufacturers wanted to remain competitive in rally.

Ford’s Europe arm then came up with the RS 200 – 200 denoting the number of legal road cars needed to achieve FIA homologation. Unlike many other Group B heroes which were developed atop a mainstream pedestrian car, the RS 200 was a ground-up design lead by F1 designer Tony Southgate and F1 engineer John Wheeler.

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A ground-up design unlike anything else. Form follows function with design lead by Formula One minds

Their quest for the most-perfect weight distribution yielded an aluminium honeycomb chassis which supported a complex all-wheel drive system that linked the mid-engine turbocharged Cosworth four-cylinder to a gearbox mounted at the front.

The road-going car first debuted at the 1984 Belfast Motor Show, while the competition car’s FIA debut occurred in January 1986 at the Monte-Carlo Rally. Group B rally was officially disbanded a few months later, forcing Ford’s updated RS 200 Evolution to race in FIA European Rallycross until 1992.

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The business end!

The RS 200 on sale here at Duttons Garage in Melbourne is build number #171 of 200, and presents as a virtual museum piece with just 1186 miles covered.

Extensive history shows the RS 200 was sold new by Ford Motorsport in the UK before it was immediately exported to its first owner in Colorado USA in 1988.

After passing between a few US-based collections, the RS 200 found its way to a Ford Dealership in New Zealand where it was displayed. From there, the car was imported into Brisbane Australia.

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Red seats and tiller for an 80s touch. Interior is Spartan but certainly not boring

Over the past six months, Duttons has carried out an extensive mechanical restoration totalling just under $60,000. It presents today virtually as new, and is likely one of the best original examples remaining in the world.

Duttons has the RS 200 at its Melbourne showroom listed as price on application. For reference, however, most global auctions from the past few years show a median sale price of around Au$250,000.

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1986 Ford RS 200 specs

BODY: Two-door coupe
WEIGHT: 1180kgs
ENGINE: 1803cc turbocharged four-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual
SUSPENSION: double wishbone, coil sprung, anti-roll (f), double wishbone, coil sprung, anti-roll, toe-control link (r)
BRAKES: 304mm ventilated disc, four-piston (f), 285mm ventilated disc, four-piston (r)
POWER & TORQUE: 433kW @8000rpm, 542Nm @5500rpm

 

From Unique Cars #446, November 2020

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