Home » Here Are Some Photos Of The Beautiful Ford RS200 For No Reason

Here Are Some Photos Of The Beautiful Ford RS200 For No Reason

Rs200top

For no real reason, here are some photos I found of the Ford RS200, which was the blue oval brand’s attempt at a world-beating mid-engined rally car for the soon-to-be-doomed FIA Group B World Rally Championship. It looks great, doesn’t it?

Fordrs200
Illustration: Ford

On the Ford Heritage site there’s a great brochure about the RS200 that details a lot of what makes it special. Developed with the help of three-time Grand Prix champ Jackie Stewart, the RS200 featured a mid-mounted 1.8-liter, 16-valve DOHC Cosworth-derived inline-four with a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger. In “Standard” form that was good for 250 horsepower, but it being a rally car it was designed to be boosted up to 420 horsepower for “competition.” As a later Group B car, power was sent to either all wheels or just the rear wheels with the help of a locking center-mounted differential.

What makes the car stand out, to me, is not its face, which is simple and cute. What I love about the purposeful beauty is the roof-mounted intercooler, which elevates the car into the realm of the sublime.

Rs200rally
Photo: Ford

It’s so good. You’d have to be literally crazy to not appreciate it, here, in fully race-spec, being driven by Stig Blomqvist. The good news is that, per homologation regulations, Ford had to build 200 of these things for the road. Here’s one as a police car with a sweet Sierra.

Rs200policecar
Photo: Ford

The lightbar blocks the intercooler, but the little British police checker pattern makes me forgive them.

Goodwoodtail
Photo: Goodwood via Newspress

As good as this thing looks from the front, I think the little short-wheelbase car has an absolute banger of a rear. Those taillights are just rainbows of joy and everything about this car just screams “excited bulldog puppy ready for a walk.”

Rs200interior
Photo: Silverstone Auctions/Newspress

The interior looks great, too.

Obviously, Group B didn’t make it. The cars were too fast and too dangerous. This meant that most RS200s actually ended up in other uses, like Rallycross. Here’s a rallycross one looking awesome:

Rallycross
Photo: Newspress

And here’s a Pikes Peak one looking killer:

Pikespeak
Photo: Avon Tires

Anyway, I just randomly thought of this. How great these cars are. It’s possible you don’t find the engineering beautiful. Sometimes an object can capture the essence of its purpose so successfully and with so little obvious effort that the simplicity is almost overwhelming. There are people who don’t like Brancusi’s ‘Bird in Space.’

It’s fine. Car culture is diverse and speech is free.

If you don’t like it you are entitled to your wrong opinion!

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37 Responses

  1. The “excited bulldog puppy ready for a walk” phrase sums it up perfectly for me, and probably goes a long way toward explaining why I like these cars so much hahah

  2. Love that interior, which I’d never really seen before.

    It actually reminds me a lot of the interior of a Pontiac Fiero. And I mean that as a compliment…it’s appropriately ’80s performance-functional, blocky shapes, bold simple gauges galore, and everything you need to drive right at hand.

  3. Interesting timing, with the “other website” using an RS200 as the cover photo for a make-us-some-content-for-a-slideshow called “What’s the Worst-Looking Car Ever Made”

    1. I really must stop going over there. To all the sites. It’s simply habit, at this point, what with The Autopian and Defector being so immensely wonderful, there’s just no reason for me to go to those other places that have been absolutely stripped, destroyed, and ruined. I just wish a gaming equivalent would be developed by all the old, great, and former talent.

    2. Now we know that when Matt says “for no real reason,” the reason is to throw shade at the gelatinous outdoor meal site.

      I, for one, am on Team Matt in this case. Love the RS200.

    3. I thought the timing was interesting just on this site.

      Matt, two hours before this article: “Now’s the perfect time to import a car from Europe!”

      Matt, this article: “Here’s the RS200 FOR NO REASON!”

      He might just be trying to tell us something.

  4. Hey, I understood that reference.

    And for the record you are absolutely correct, and whatever it was that caused that to pop into your head is (charitably) horribly mistaken.

  5. The Ford RS200 has been my go to for races in any/all eligible classes in the Forza Horizon series. For some reason it really agrees with my driving style in game. I think it’s lovely.

  6. We know why Matt, we know why. Unfortunately every time I see an article like that it makes me dislike the other website just a little bit more. There’s seriously not any car people left at that site with the exception of maybe one or two. It’s really sad how far it has fallen.

  7. I’d absolutely love a replica of one (which you can buy) as an insane winter car.

    That said, I hear they’re absolutely terrible to drive (Jeremy Clarkson actually crashed one on Top Gear), so maybe not…but also maybe…

  8. That, like many of the Group B cars, is really, timelessly good looking. I’ve, I guess sort of paradoxically, never really gotten into rally despite strongly feeling like it’s the coolest version of car racing.

    Now, what I want to know is, could you stuff a modern, safe car under that skin? I presume it could technically be done.

  9. Never gave these much thought, then I saw one on Bring a Trailer a while back. Their was a Dino 246 for sale at the same time. I commented that the RS should bring a better price than the 246, better competition history, better performance, more limited production. Of course the Dino was made by Ferrari and had better looks, so it went for $100 grand more or whatever than the Ford.

    Anyway, they are neat cars with great spec. A modern frogeye Sprite on steroids.

  10. Nostalgia is a helluva drug; group B cars were designed to be deathtraps. Outrageous horsepower, no driver aids, zero crash testing, & many famous drivers ended up victims. I hate this period of rally. I watched this live on teevee back in the day- fckn horrifying.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYUILo6MmkA

    The cars are awful – throttle response of a two-stroke dirt bike (on/off), handling that was so unstable a car would suddenly pitch sideways for no reason, and zero chance to react when it eventually happened.

    1. There just needed to be more safety regs. For example the s4’s fuel tanks were under the seats and the thing was full of magnesium. Otherwise there were only (I think, it has been a while) 2 crashes fatal to the occupants and I think 1 involving spectators. Iirc FISA did not do anything about the spectator issue, which was definitely the scariest part of the whole thing.

      959, the legendary IMSA Audi 90, the most angry sounding engine of all time, AWD as a performance enhancer, the homologation cars, I can’t think of a time in motorsport that spawned more awesome and innovative things.

      1. Forgot- roll cages were also poorly regulated- there is much suspicion that a lot of them were made of exhaust tubing.

        Keep in mind that the 80s is about halfway between the “roll bars and seat belts are dangerous” era and present day.

  11. Had a brief experience with one some years ago in the UK. On their “country” roads, the thing was terrifyingly quick. When the turbo got its boost on, all to easy to get behind in your steering.

    I loved every millisecond of it. I wanted one. I still want one. Even though it is not the ideal car for tallish folk who find it hard to do contortions these days.

  12. I saw the aftermath of a Cosworth Sierra slammed sideways into a tree or suchlike during “testing” by the Essex constabulary. It was crushed and deformed to the point of the B-pillar area being about half its normal width and twice the height. I believe the crash involved fatalities.
    I don’t think they ever had the chops to use a Group B car.

  13. I had a toy one long before I knew what it was – possibly in Micro Machines form, because I had the rally set of those which was astoundingly important when it comes to developing my tastes in cars – and it was one of those cars that works perfect when you scale it down to child size.

    It’s such a brilliant design, purposeful and logical but also just incredibly fun. You want to drive it when you see it, you know?

    1. You nailed it on the drive it when you see it call.

      It’s so compelling in that it doesn’t scream “look at me” (like say any product from Lamborghini) but yet radiates a strong “this is a professional’s machine” vibe.

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