The National Motor Museum welcomes two new rallying exhibits in support of its new exhibition, A Chequered History, celebrating the history of motor sport.
The Ford GT70 and the Ford RS200, which belong to Ford’s Heritage collection, are both prototypes of fascinating designs with their own ‘chequered histories,’ echoing the bitter-sweet nature of motor racing and rallying. Both were designed to win rallies, but success eluded them.
Doug Hill, Manager and Chief Engineer of the museum, said: “I am both delighted and grateful that Ford Heritage has offered on loan to the National Motor Museum two of its important historic motor cars, the RS200 and the GT70. These rally cars will greatly enrich our already fabulous collection of competition motor vehicles, continuing a long-standing and much valued association and friendship with the Ford Motor Company.”
Brian Bennett, Ford of Britain Corporate Affairs Manager, said: “Ford is proud of its long association with the National Motor Museum and is pleased to be able to loan two of the most precious vehicles from its Heritage collection to support A Chequered History. This comes at a most appropriate time for Ford with the recent announcement of the new Ford GT, inspired by the multi Le Mans-winning GT40, and the new Focus RS, the 30th Ford vehicle to wear the RS badge since 1968.”
The GT70 was conceived in 1970 to rival the giants of European rallying, such as the Renault Alpine and the Porsche 911. Its steel platform chassis was clad in an aerodynamic fibreglass body, with independent suspension all-round. The mid-mounted engine powered the rear wheels through a five-speed ZF transaxle. Although designed to accept a range of engines, including a 2.6-re V6, the lighter four-cylinder 1.6-litre BDA unit was found to suit the design best.
Only five examples were constructed, before the project was scrapped in a cost-cutting move by Ford. However, this GT70 was tested on European rally events, before a stint on the Ford press fleet. After many years in storage in a parts warehouse, it was restored.
Joining the GT70 is the third of six RS200 prototypes, one of the most remarkable rallying machines of the 1980s. The RS200 was also designed to be competitive in European rallies, using a mid-engine layout. However, this all-new design used four-wheel drive and a turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, creating a fast, light-weight car with sharp handling. The body, made by fibreglass specialists Reliant, was assembled over a rigid platform chassis.
To prove that the RS200 was a true production car, 200 examples were built – a requirement of the stringent Group B rallying regulations. However, despite getting off to a promising start, its motor sport career was cut short when the governing body for motor sport events, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, ended the Group B class from 1987 following a number of fatal accidents. These unsold rally cars were converted into exclusive road-going performance cars, with the addition of upmarket interior trim.
A Chequered History will be officially opened by Sir Stirling Moss on 5th March 2015 and will be open to visitors to the National Motor Museum from the following day. Consisting of two exciting new displays, this exhibition will feature some of the most remarkable machines in the history of motor sport, along with a unique collection of memorabilia and archive film.
Grand Prix Greats will tell the story of this historic racing tradition, from its earliest beginnings to modern-day Formula 1, while Road Race and Rally will celebrate the high-octane thrills of rallying, hill-climbing and circuit racing.
Visitors will be able to enjoy A Chequered History as part of a visit to the whole Beaulieu attraction from 6th March 2015. Admission includes access to all of the Beaulieu attractions, including the National Motor Museum, World of Top Gear, Beaulieu Abbey and Palace House. For more information and to book your tickets, please visit www.beaulieu.co.uk.