Ford RS200 @ Silverstone Auctions NEC Classic Motor Show Sale

Ford RS200 @ Silverstone Auctions NEC Classic Motor Show Sale

1988 Ford RS200  -  One of the 90 examples finished by Ford in the more refined road car specification and just 7,800 miles from new.

GUIDE PRICE: £225,000 - £275,000

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 edge of 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. The result was the RS200, however, they had now become ‘late starters' and were effectively three years behind. The car was styled by Ghia 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’s, but capacity was increased to 1803cc 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 6500-7000rpm and a maximum torque output of 215lb ft at 4000-5000rpm. The rally cars had significantly more to play with – 444bhp at a screaming 8000rpm and 361lb ft at 5500rpm.

It looked like Ford finally had the package to win and things were looking promising 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. 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 ‘86 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, it did prove that it had enormous promise with many of the cars being spectacularly successful in Rallycross particularly in the hands of Norwegian Martin Schanche.

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 further developed and sold as the RS200 Evolution with a 2.1-litre power unit, a number were disassembled for spares, and records indicate that 90 were converted to road cars with improved build quality and a number of creature comforts.

In the true tradition of RS Fords, Silverstone Auctions are proud to offer this RS200 as one of the 90 cars Ford returned to the more refined road specification. Well documented, it was supplied by Frews of Perth, one of the nine Rallye Sport Dealers in Scotland, to Mr Brian Holmes in Derbyshire who was the former Managing Director of Chesterfield-based Auto Windscreens, which probably explains why it comes with a new boxed spare windscreen. The RS joined his Collection which included an RS500, also supplied by Frews. It was fitted with the 300bhp upgrade, a multi-light grille lamp-pod, full competition Sabelt harnesses and finished in Ford Motorsport’s iconic blue and white livery.

The RS200 remained with the Holmes family until 2010 and had still only covered around a 1,000 miles when it was entrusted to RS200 expert Geoff Page for a total engine refresh. The work is fully documented in the history file. It revisited GPR again in October 2012 for a throttle pot and full spanner check before being exported to a collector in Japan. He decided to reduce his collection and it returned to the UK last month with an indicated mileage of 7,794. It's supplied with the original alloys, spare screen, light-pod cover, original exhaust and its factory owner's 

Group B rally cars with the cachet of the RS200 seldom come to market and, with its solid timeline and lovely condition, this is a super example and we welcome and encourage your close inspection.


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