Ford RS200 #2 – Ixo

RS200 #2
1986 Ford RS200 #2
Pilots: K. Grundel / B. Melander
Team: Ford Motor Co. Ltd. 
Race: 5th overall at the Lombard RAC Rally in 1986
Ixo - RAC315 (diecast)

Published 11/24/24

Ford’s association with rally racing began in the late 60s, with the Escort. By the late 70s, with the RS1800, Ford had a solid reputation, even winning the manufacturer’s WRC in 1979. And then, in 1982, came Group B… However, Ford didn’t have a four-wheel drive capable car. Therefore, they had to start from scratch, creating a new vehicle designed specifically for Group B. This new car, the RS200, was completely unique. The body, designed by Italian Ghia, was made of CFRP, fabricated for Ford by Reliant. With a mid-mounted engine, to equalize weight distribution, the transmission was up front. Consequently, the drive train was truly complex, with power going first to the front and then back to the rear. The chassis consisted of an aluminum honeycomb lower structure with rear and front integral subframes. The suspension setup consisted of double wishbone with twin dampers on all four corners.

RS200 #2
Differently from Audi, Peugeot or Lancia, Ford created a Group B car that looked like nothing from the brand.

The chassis and suspension setup conferred probably the most balanced platform of the current Group B cars. Powering the car was a brand new 1803 cm³ inline-4 with Ford/Bosch fuel injection and a single Garett turbocharger. Produced by Ford-Cosworth, this BDT engine delivered 186 kW (250 hp). Or from 261 to 336 kW (350 – 450 hp) in race trim. That allowed a 0-100 km/h in 5 seconds (2.8 for the race version), with a top speed of 240 km/h. With the car ready, it was time to homologate it. The whole project was in the hands of Ford Europe, and they should build 200 cars. Well, actually Ford only made 148… Interestingly, that’s where the name came from: Rally Sport 200 cars. The development ran into a series of problems, and the first RS200 was only ready in late 1985.

Despite its bespoke design and construction, the RS200 was not a winner.

Nonetheless, Ford built enough, and the RS200 received official homologation in February 1986. The road-going cars were built by Reliant, while Ford’s competition department in Boreham built the works cars. Notedly, the main difference between the two versions was that the race version had a lighter Kevlar body, instead of CFRP. The RS200 debuted in the WRC at the Swedish Rally of 1986, finishing in third place, the RS200’s best result. The following race, in Portugal, tragedy struck when a RS200 hit the crowd, killing three and injuring dozens. And then, in the RAC Rally November, RS200 #6 finished in fifth place. This RS200 #2 abandoned on the 22nd stage with turbo issues. Unfortunately, the RS200’s career in the WRC was mostly DNFs due to accidents and mechanical failures. Moreover, with the Portugal crash and Henri Toivonen’s death in May, a few months later FIA banned Group B.

The RS200 #2 is my second B Group model. Will I be able to have one of each?

The RS200 had a very short career. Despite having a good engine and great balance, the RS200’s power-to-weight ratio was comparatively lacking. While the competition was on the second or even third versions of their cars, the RS200 was almost still in development. The car that debuted in Sweden was almost a road car with a lighter body and stronger engine. Consequently, the RS200 was outmatched by cars like the Quattro, S4 and T16. And with the premature end of Group B, it would be nonsensical to Ford invest in further developing the car. So, after just a few races, the RS200 became illegal in rallying and it was done. With proper development, who knows… Fortunately in 143rd, Ixo delivers a VERY competent model. The RS200 #2 looks VERY good. Being a newer mold from the brand, it’s close to Spark-good, and better than the Minichamps version.

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