Ford RS200

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

The Group B supercar was full of promise, but events overtook it and the entire class was canned before it fulfilled its potential

By Keith Howard

After its long period of success rallying the Escort, Ford was slow to absorb the significance of four-wheel drive and Group B. So when it belatedly decided, in the wake of axing the promising but wrong-era 1700T, that it would have to embrace Group B after all, it was playing catch-up.

The car it built – the RS200 – might have atoned for its late arrival had it been able to progress to the 600bhp-plus Evo version before a series of fatal rally accidents forced motorsport’s governing body FISA to ban Group B at the end of 1986. Overtaken by events, it instead became a tantalising motorsport ‘what if?’ 

By recruiting Tony Southgate – who talks about designing the RS200 below – Ford succeeded, albeit a little reluctantly, in melding traditional rally car elements with strong motifs from circuit racing. It was just the recipe needed to carry the fight to Peugeot and Lancia.

Origins

“I wasn’t a rally man, it had been all Group C and Formula 1 for me,” says Southgate. “I got involved because I had a year’s contract with Ford and had spent about six months of it designing the C100 Mk3 Le Mans car, which never raced. It was a good car but Ford cancelled the project overnight – a political decision. A few weeks later [Ford competition boss] Stuart Turner asked me whether I’d fancy designing a Group B rally car. He was asking several others to submit designs as well and whoever won would collaborate with the rally department at Boreham to build the car. They wanted it in two weeks and they would pay me £5000. I said OK.

“My design was influenced by my circuit racing past. It used a monocoque aluminium structure with the engine and gearbox in the middle to get something close to 50:50 weight distribution. Boreham’s proposal was basically a Sierra with tubular subframes – what you’d expect. They gave me the job and told me to create a compromise design acceptable to [rally engineer] John Wheeler and to Boreham.”

Culture clash 

“It was a struggle in some ways because Ford has its own way of doing things. They literally had a design bible – an impressive book about six inches thick – which showed you how to design any part of a car the Ford way. It had parts costs in it, too, mostly in pence and to three or four decimal places! I wasn’t obliged to use the design guide but they wanted me to use as many Ford parts as possible to save on cost. I used 118 parts from the Sierra – doors, with about six inches chopped off, windscreen, and lots of smaller components.

“My original design didn’t allow the car to be worked on that easily in the field. If you smashed the suspension, for instance, you’d be out because there were no steel subframes. Wishbones were attached to engine castings. Boreham didn’t like that and put me into a rally car as a passenger to demonstrate the punishment they take. After three laps of an off-road track at Chobham I was shot. Quite an eye-opener.

“Boreham thought my aluminium honeycomb structure was way out. They didn’t believe that it would be anywhere near strong enough. So I made sill boxes in honeycomb and spot-welded steel and squashed them both in a press. The honeycomb structure was about 20 times stronger, as I knew it would be. They were worried about repairs in the field but I said they wouldn’t be repairing the monocoque unless the car was already a write-off. They accepted that.”

Transmission

“From the outset, John wanted the gearbox at the front for good access and weight distribution. The problem with that was you had to have two driveshafts, one to the gearbox and another back to the rear wheels. It was early days for carbon driveshafts so I was worried about weight and the potential for vibration. But that’s what Boreham wanted.

“They also stipulated that the gearbox had to be replaceable in nine minutes. The transmission, including propshafts, had to be dropped beneath the car to achieve this, but I wasn’t keen on an open transmission tunnel for structural reasons. So I designed a quickly removable panel to hold it all together. Whether they used it I don’t know, but the fixing points were there.”

Suspension

“The design had to accommodate tarmac use as well as on gravel, so I incorporated two sets of inner suspension pick-ups, so that the ride height could be raised two inches for off-road use. The suspension had eight inches total wheel travel front and rear, and twin dampers on each corner, which seemed a good idea for better reliability, increased capacity and improved cooling.

“I didn’t like all the tubular structure for the suspension mountings because it was heavy. But the rally engineers insisted because it was cheap and easy to repair. It was all in mild steel so it could be bashed and welded in the field. They also wanted the car to use one bolt size – 12mm, which is enormous. So nearly all the bolts were that size, to make it easy for the mechanics. But it didn’t do a lot for the weight.

“I went off to Jaguar once the design work was complete. But of all the cars I’ve done, the RS200 was one of the most interesting.”

You may also like

Related products