To most people, when you mention ‘Ford’ they think of ‘the family sedan’ or perhaps the Model T from back in the day. But to real ‘car guys’ and particularly ‘motorsport guys’ Ford is a brand that gets the pulse racing.
So think BIG . . . the Ford GT40 is about as BIG as it gets and is today one of the world’s most iconic and collectable cars. The GT40 project took a few years to achieve success and the Ford v Ferrari story is legendary, so much so that there is about to be a Hollywood movie released. At Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969 the Ford GT40 swept aside Enzo’s red racers to dominate the event.
The Ford Mustang is arguably the most successful sports racing car ever built, winning race after race the world over since its inception in the mid 1960’s. In Australia and England, Ford has been very successful in Touring Cars. Ford, through its racing division Cosworth was an engine supplier to Formula One and Indy cars for many years, also achieving great success.
Ford was also a pioneer in rallying and it has been competing in the World Rally Championship (WRC) since its inception in 1973. Cars such as the Ford Escort and in more recent times the Ford Focus have enjoyed great success around the world. One of Ford’s most interesting rally cars was the RS200.
In 1980 Ford set about developing a rear wheel drive turbocharged version of the Escort to be developed as a Group B rally car. Unfortunately the Escort RS 1700T project never reached fruition and it was ultimately shelved by Ford. What was to become the RS200 ultimately took its place. To keep up with arch rivals Audi and Peugeot, Ford decided their ‘new car’ had to be four wheel drive. The body was designed by Ghia and the RS200 was a technologically advanced and very complex car. The RS200 was mid engined (with power coming from a 1.8 litre, four cylinder, turbocharged Cosworth engine), four wheel drive and to keep the weight distribution as neutral as possible the gearbox was mounted at the front of the car which necessitated the very complex drive train set up.
To homologate the car, Ford had to build a minimum of two hundred RS200’s, which is exactly what they did. In fact exactly 200 examples were built over a three year period from 1984 until 1986.
Interestingly it wasn’t until February 1986 and the Swedish round of the WRC that the RS200 made its official WRC debut. One RS200 retired whilst leading the race and the other finished third. In the mid 1980’s the Group B rally cars were the fastest, most powerful, and most sophisticated rally cars ever built and motorsport bosses soon became concerned by the increasing levels of speed in the off-road competitions. Following a number of high-profile crashes, and in some cases fatalities, the decision was taken to abandon Group B rallies in mid 1986. Unfortunately this was just as the RS200 was reaching its prime and the car never achieved the success it was potentially capable of. The decision to end the Group B WRC effectively killed off the RS200 and Ford ultimately had to sell off the bulk of its RS200’s as road cars, which took them several years to do.
As a result, the RS200 remains somewhat of an enigma today and it is becoming an extremely sought after and collectable motor car.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1986 Ford RS200. This particular example was sold new by Ford Motorsport in Boreham, Essex in the UK in late 1988 and immediately exported to the USA. There is documentation on file confirming the car arrived by aeroplane into the USA on the 3rd January 1989. The car’s first owner lived in Colorado Springs in Colorado. In April 2002 the car was sold by Autosport Designs Inc in New York to its new owner in Tigard, Oregon in the USA. The car then found its way to the owner of a Ford dealership in Pahiatua, New Zealand where it was displayed.
The current owner acquired the car from Pahiatua in New Zealand and imported it into Brisbane, Australia. There is an import approval on file dated the 9th March 2011.
This car has remained a static display piece all of its life and most likely never used in anger. Today the odometer reads a miniscule 1,058 miles. Sales documentation on file confirms the mileage as 360 miles in April 1993. There is also a newspaper article from the Bush Telegraph from Tararua in New Zealand dated April 5, 2010 promoting the car on display at Hoffman Ford in Pahiatua in New Zealand which states the mileage then was 989 miles.
To say this RS200 is a ‘time capsule’ is an understatement! There wouldn’t be too many examples like this in the world. The overall condition of the car is ‘very good’. The paint work is in good condition and most likely totally original. The finish was probably never great on these cars when new and even kept in storage the paintwork has the odd blemish or wear mark evident. All of the exterior trim and the wheels are in good condition. There is some light scratching to the rear perspex window. Inside the cabin everything looks to be totally original and generally in very good condition. An exception is the dash where the material has started to lift in places. There is also a small stain on the carpet in the driver’s foot well. The red seats are more like capsules and they are quite difficult to squeeze in and out of. The material wears easily, however, in this car they remain in excellent condition. All of the instruments and controls are in excellent condition also. Under the front clip and in the engine bay everything is clean and tidy. The rubber stops that support the rear clip have disintegrated and will need to be replaced.
For a totally original car, that was built as a race car (ie not with Rolls Royce build quality!) that is more than thirty years old it is remarkably well preserved. Its new owner may choose to attend to a few small detail items to return the car to absolutely pristine condition, which we believe could be done with minimal expense.
Once you slip into the driver’s seat you can’t help but notice the strict ‘Cold Start Procedure’ on the windscreen. This states “It is essential not to exceed 1500rpm for the first 30 seconds after starting. Do not drive with the oil pressure above 6 bar. Allow water temperature to reach normal before using maximum power. Failure to observe correct procedure may result in expensive engine damage.”
You turn the key and the engine catches quickly and easily, surprisingly so. The idle has an edge, but it’s more like a ‘hot hatch’ than a ‘beast of a rally car’. Engine speed under 1500 rpm - check, thirty seconds gone - check, let the car warm up - check . . . OK we’re good to go! To take off the owner says you must have at least 2500 rpm up otherwise the car will stall. I must have had only 2499 rpm up as the car stalled . . . bugger! At the second attempt I got it right and had the car moving forward reasonably smoothly, though it’s apparent very quickly that this car has a very complex drive train as there is plenty of resistance. Once you get above about 30 km/hr everything settles down and the car drives somewhat ‘normally’. The gear change is smooth and the steering is incredibly direct. The brakes pull the car up easily and look to be capable of handling the bags of performance on tap. What you really notice is that the engine just wants more, wherever you are in the rev range. In fact the power on tap is quite frightening! For a car that’s not been used it runs and drives well.
The RS200 is an extremely rare car and there is one or perhaps two other examples in Australia. Given the mileage, this car may well end up in a museum or indeed a private collection as a show piece. Then again its new owner may choose to add a few more miles under its belt over the journey of time!
Accompanying this car is the original sales documentation to its first owner, other miscellaneous documents including USA titles and Bills of Sale, the newspaper article mentioned above, an owner’s manual, parts manual, Ford RS200 book (being a reprint of many period magazine articles), an original sales brochure and the tool kit.
The car has been photographed showing the Queensland registration plate RS2OO, however, the car is being sold unregistered. The successful purchaser may be able to acquire the rights to the plate RS2OO with the purchase of the car.
Listed price AUD $399,500.
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