1988 Ford RS200 @ H&H Imperial War Museum auction

1988 Ford RS200 @ H&H Imperial War Museum auction

1 of just 49 LHD roadgoing cars made

Estimate £180,000 - £220,000 

Registration No: F565 LHJ

Chassis No: SFACXXBJ2CGL00179

MOT: January 2024

One of the 49 examples built to left-hand drive roadgoing specification
11,800 recorded miles and current ownership since 2005
Leather bound owner's manual and a collection of invoices
Fresh engine overhaul with many parts supplied by John Wilcox Competition Engines
Understood to have been a factory Tarmac Demonstrator and to have been uprated with a 350bhp kit

Conceived purely as a Group B rally car, the Ford RS200 was unveiled at the November 1984 Turin Motor Show. The work of ex-F1 designer Tony Southgate and ex-F1 engineer John Wheeler, its advanced chassis incorporated a central aluminium monocoque cell atop a steel platform with detachable subframes fore and aft. Suspended by double wishbones and twin-coil over shock absorbers, each wheel was fed power by a highly sophisticated Ferguson Formula (FF) system. Using a combination of three viscous couplings and a centre diff lock etc, it allowed the torque split between the front and rear wheels to be varied on the move (though, this facility was disabled on road-going variants). Powered by a mid-mounted turbocharged 1803cc four-cylinder BDT engine, the RS200 carried its five-speed gearbox up front. While, this arrangement necessitated two propshafts, it also contributed to the car's excellent weight distribution.

Clad in Ghia-styled but Reliant-built 'clamshell' glassfibre bodywork, a delay in production meant that homologation was not granted until February 1986 (although, Ford claimed to have built the necessary 200 cars by then most sources put the number actually completed at around 144). Managing a highly credible third overall on its Swedish Rally debut, the RS200 had yet to fulfil its potential before Lancia Delta S4 driver Henri Toivenen's death on the 1986 Tour de Corse prompted Ford's instant withdrawal and FISA's decision to ban Group B. Determined to recoup some of its £10,000,000 investment, the 'Blue Oval' enlisted the help of Tickford to convert circa ninety or so RS200s to road-going specification. Detuned but still reportedly capable of 140mph and 0-60mph in 6.1 seconds, these street-legal supercars could be had in either left or right-hand drive. Priced at approximately £50,000 each, they were sold to collectors worldwide. Group B rally cars typified ‘80s excess with too little regulation to hold back development and tragedy and controversy in abundance. To own one now is a dream but not easy to realise.

According to Ford RS200 historian and author Justin Smith, just 49 of the 144 cars originally completed were to left-hand drive, roadgoing specification including chassis #179. Mr Smith’s authoritative online resource – www.rs200.org – also states that the homologation special served as a Tarmac Demonstrator before being sold to Uwe Jaglas of Auto Hoffman GmbH. The latter is further understood to have bought and fitted one of the 350bhp kits which the Blue Oval first made available in 1988. UK road registered as ‘F565 LHJ’ on October 5th that year, the Ford subsequently belonged to serial RS200 owner Jon Beck of Nottinghamshire who used it for a variety of sprints and hillclimbs. An early member of the Ford RS200 Owners’ Club, Mr Beck took #179 to one of its inaugural meetings, Pembrey 90 on October 19th 1990. Thereafter, he advertised the car for sale in the RS200 Owners’ Club magazine describing it as: ‘LHD (Road) White, Red Trim, Stereo, Electric Mirrors, 350bhp, 10,000 miles’. The latter seems a slight exaggeration because the 4WD supercar passed through the hands of the Gates Ford dealership in Harlow, Essex prior to joining Dick Van Dijk’s private museum collection during 1994, at which time its odometer showed just 9,434 miles. Entering the current ownership via our October 2005 Syon Park auction which encompassed seventy cars from Mr Van Dijk’s collection, ‘F565 LHJ’ currently displays some 11,800 miles.

Despite averaging less than 140 miles per annum behind the wheel, November 2022 saw the vendor instruct Ricky Gauld Performance Tuning and Motorsport Preparation in Aberdeenshire to overhaul the engine using specialist parts from John Wilcox Competition Engines. Their expertise was used to extract the powerplant and associated ancillaries. The c.£4,500 of work included the following: de-coke of the cylinder head; honing of the cylinder bores; new piston rings, re-cut valve seats; new inlet and exhaust valves; new Mahle bearings; a timing belt; TIG weld repair on inlet manifold lugs; new battery and new fuel & oil filters. The engine was test run after its refresh but has yet to do any real work. On February 1st 2023, #179 received its present MOT certificate following work to disassemble the front running gear, in order to fit new rubber boots with a strip and clean of the front brake calipers. Invoices on file include those from Ricky Gauld Performance Tuning and Motorsport Preparation, Sherwood Engines of Ely and from John Wilcox Competition Engines of Hinckley, the latter two supplying the components to the tune of c.£1200. Riding on 8J x 16 Ford Motorsport Speedline alloy wheels, the RS200 still retains its Hella Rallye 1000 spotlamps and leather-bound owner's manual. Automotive history and a driver experience few can attest to, #179 is offered with invoices for the aforementioned work on file and the V5C Registration Document.

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