Masterminded by its European Motor Sports boss, Stuart Turner, the RS200 was Ford’s ambitious attempt at producing a championship-winning Group B rally car.
Overseen by Ford Motor Sports Chief Engineer John Wheeler, the RS200 project commenced in 1983 with production of 200 cars planned to meet Group B requirements, hence the name. The design, by Tony Southgate, eventually crystallized as a compact mid-engined coupe powered by a turbocharged version of the 1.8-liter 16-valve Cosworth BDA engine and equipped with four-wheel drive. This engine produced 250 bhp in road-going trim with up to 500 bhp available in rally tune.
Ford’s Italian subsidiary, Carrozzeria Ghia, was entrusted with the styling, producing a purposeful yet elegant design that has stood the test of time like few of its contemporaries. Aston Martin-owned Tickford built the composite body shells at Newport Pagnell.
The RS200 was first publicly displayed in 1984 and homologated in February 1986 after the required 200 examples had been built — all apart from the initial six prototypes being completed at Reliant’s factory at Shenstone, Staffordshire. Its first World Championship event was that year’s Swedish Rally, where the car, driven by Kalle Grundel, finished 3rd overall, a most promising debut. The RS200 went on to achieve a total of 19 wins and 32 podium finishes at international level before the year’s end, securing several national championships along the way.
Sadly, that would be the limit of its rallying achievements, as FIA pulled the plug on the Group B supercars at the end of a season blighted by a number of fatal accidents — some involving spectators. Seeking to recoup some of the £10 million ($15 million) rumored to have been spent on the project, Ford stripped down 120 RS200s and rebuilt them as road-legal supercars to be sold at around £50,000 ($75,000) apiece.
Purchased new by the current vendor from Stormont Ford of Tunbridge Wells, the right-hand-drive RS200 offered here — chassis 112 — has the uprated 350 bhp engine. After a little over 6,000 miles had been covered, the car was put up on blocks (in 1994) and has been carefully stored and not used since.