Lucky Graham Robson — he had an RS200 as his daily driver during the years he was involved in the project. In fact he saw all stages of the chunky machine going through development, so he couldn’t be a better guide to how Ford did what it did, so quickly, and the struggles it went through before this promising machine was knocked on the head by the abrupt cancellation of Group B just as it hit its stride.
Robson was close to Stuart Turner when he became Ford’s motor sport director in 1983 and immediately canned the floundering RS1700T project, instead assembling a small team to create a Quattro beater. It seems to have been one of those magic moments when the right people came together; in less than a year from proposals a prototype was ready. Robson vividly describes the excitement that surrounded the task, not that it was easy: arguments raged about the aluminium honeycomb structure, the styling, who should build what, and where to assemble it. But the result was what Turner wanted – a rally winner which looked like a distinct car, not a converted saloon, was decently built and which could also be type-approved and sold for the road. Ghia did a fine job of blending a cut-down Sierra cabin into a cute profile, while the team’s collective motor sport experience meant that the car would be both capable and easy to work on, with its flip-top body panels and easily switched components. It also had to be reasonably comfortable for occupants, and use as many off-the-shelf components as possible – space was even left for a radio-cassette.
After a hearty technical analysis Robson moves on to the complexities of having the thing built: that involved a large number of outside agencies and the sheer frenzy of getting the car ready for homologation is clear. Yet they had 200 cars ready for the FIA inspectors by January ’86, and thereafter the stubby little vehicle began to show that it was a potential champion – until the axe fell.