After the launch of the third-generation Escort in 1980, Ford decided to turn this originally front-wheel drive car into a rear-wheel drive group B rally special with the internal name RS1700T. In 1983, however, it was still not possible to eliminate all the design shortcomings, and, in addition, the concept itself proved to be a problem. Ford faced a difficult decision - either all costs will be written off and everyone will pretend that no such project existed or another project will be launched, conceptually more tailored to the development in rally sport, in which, at the same time, the design team can avoid mistakes from the past. As we all know, Ford decided to keep fighting and the RS200 with all-wheel drive was created.
The RS200 was a completely new advanced design car. John Wheeler became the project leader and the car was based on a steel frame, that allowed the engine to be placed in front of the rear axle, which helped to better distribute the weight. Advanced was also the possibility of three driving modes, controlled by the switch in the car - 50:50 4x4 drive with locked center differential, 33:67 4x4 drive with opened center differential and full rear wheel drive. At the time, Ford still thought that the rear-wheel drive could be faster than a 4x4 on dry technical asphalt. Due to the location of the engine in front of the rear axle and the transmission behind the front axle, the RS200 is the only car of its time with two driveshafts. The car's suspension, which uses double shock absorbers with springs on all wheels, was also very advanced. The road version of the RS200 produced 250 hp and it was possible to purchase a factory modification for 300 hp, the Gr.B monsters had about 450 hp - all from a 1.8L Ford-Cosworth BDT engine with a large Garrett turbocharger. Only the prescribed 200 units of the homologation series were built - it is said that around 50 cars were only dummies.
The racing premiere of the RS200, in the specification for Gr.B, took place in September 1985 at the local competition in Great Britain - Lindisfarne Rally. Of course, the car did not yet have a homologation. In addition, it had to drive with reduced performance, but in the competition of this nature, no FIA regulations applied. Although the competition was of local importance, it took place on sections known from the RAC Rally, which attracted MG and Mazda in addition to Ford. Malcolm Wilson was behind the wheel of the race car at the time. The premiere turned out to be excellent, although, at first, the car was not fast enough for Tony Pond and his MG 6R4, but he later began to lose ground in the forest and later resigned due to technical problems. A good indicator was a two-minute lead over the second Carlsson with the factory RX-7, which took the bronze medal at the Rally Acropolis a few months before the competition.
The first racing season was the one in 1986, but Ford counted on it as a test season, he wanted to fully participate in 1987 season. The factory driver duo of Stig Blomqvist and Kalle Grundel raced only in 4 competitions - Sweden, in which Grundel managed o take 3rd place (best RS200 result in WRC); Portugal, where Joaquim Santos injured many spectators in the collision (three of whom unfortunately died); the Greek Acropolis, where the cars lead for a long time, but in the end, neither saw the finish line; and the British RAC rally, where out of 4 cars, only Grundel finished (only fifth due to a defect). Blomqvist never saw the finish line with the RS200 in the WRC - in Sweden, his engine didn't survive, Portugal was canceled after Santos' accident, he had a crash on the Acropolis and he was betrayed by his turbo at the RAC.
Despite the many ills, that the Ford RS200 has shown on the WRC rallies, it certainly had strong ambitions of being the king of Group B, but since these cars have been banned since 1987 due to accidents, it did not have enough time to regularly torment Audi, Peugeot and Lancia. Most of the race cars then headed to Rallycross, where they succeeded, including taking absolute titles - for example, Martin Schanche became the European Rallycross Champion with his Ford RS200 E2 in 1991.
Mike Moreton's memoir "Rally Sport Fords: The Inside Story", he mentions this remarkable car as the first to be sold out of all 200 homologation series for sports use. The car was delivered to Jeff Churchill and it was delivered with a rally conversion kit according to the factory specifications. The car was subsequently rebuilt in Mike Taylor Development's workshops with the help of Karl Davies.
It became the first, and also the last, original rally version of the RS200 with right-hand drive. The car first started as car number 0 at the Welsh Rally 1986. During 1987, our RS200 was handled by Bob Brian Developments. Unfortunately, after the ban on Group B, the car's performance was limited by a 32mm restrictor, which significantly reduced its performance and made the car less competitive. Then the RS200 went through several hands in the UK and eventually appeared in Germany at a Ford dealer. The car got rid of all previous modifications and it was converted to left-hand drive.
Our company acquired it in November 2013 and it then underwent a gradual restoration back to the factory car specification. John Wheeler, then chief engineer responsible for the design and development of the Ford RS200, was a huge help to us. John also prepared an evaluation report for our car, which described the differences between the factory version and the current state. Subsequently, our RS200 received the exact period specification of the factory car.
Today, our Ford is in the colors of Mark Lowell's championship car, which won the British Rally Championship in 1986 with it.
The car has undergone a complete overhaul and complies with the factory specifications of the Group B factory car. In 2016, our car took part in the Eiffel Rallye in Daun, Germany, where the car was signed by Stig Blomqvist himself.