1986 Ford RS200 Evolution
Unveiled to the world at the Belfast Motor Show, the radical RS200 was to be Ford’s first all-wheel drive contender and final entrant into the ultra-competitive Group B rally class.
The brand new and purpose-built rally car was developed off the back of the Escort RS 1700T, with the singular goal of being the outright best car in class from the ground up. To achieve this and create a highly formidable Group B entrant, chassis development and engineering was led by the now legendary designer Tony Southgate and Ford’s John Wheeler, who had both seen significant success designing and engineering cars in Formula 1. Flexing their engineering prowess, the RS200’s chassis featured a double wishbone suspension setup with twin dampers on all four corners, instantly catapulting it in design superiority beyond its competition.
Featuring a mid-mounted, turbocharged Cosworth BDT 1.8L engine, paired to a 5 speed manual transmission sending 450HP to all four wheels, Ford factory driver Kalle Grundel would pilot a RS200 to third place at the 1986 WRC Rally of Sweden, earning the car’s best-ever finish within the cut throat Group B class. The RS200’s success would be short lived after just a single year of competition, as a series of tragic accidents near the end of the 1986 season led the FIA to abolish the Group B class, forever consigning it, and the demonic rally cars it spawned, to the history books.
At this time, Ford had completed development of an “Evolution” model of the RS200, with the intention of introducing it for competition in the now-abandoned 1987 season. Featuring an updated BDT-E engine, engineered by ex-racing driver and Formula 1 engineer Brian Hart, the heart of the RS200 Evolution saw engine displacement increased to 2.1L, now producing an astonishing 600HP in race trim, with rumors of 850HP being possible. Despite the Group B category ending with the 1986 season, the produced RS200 Evolution cars saw success in the FIA’s European Rallycross Championship, with one RS200 Evolution going as far as clinching the 1991 European rallycross season title.
Eligibility for the FIA’s Group B rally class required that all competing manufacturers produced 200 road-going variants for homologation purposes. The 200 road-going RS200’s were a by-product of Ford wanting to display their technological prowess within the World Rally Championship. Designed and engineered by a team with extensive background and experience at the highest echelons of motorsport, the purpose-built RS200 was unlike any of the other road-going Group B homologation specials offered by the competition. A mid-engined rally car barely in disguise, featuring a fully fledged race-bred engine and drivetrain at the center of it all, the road-going RS200 provided a ballistic and unmatched Group B experience for owners. Of these 200 cars produced, 20 of these were later converted to the fabled Evolution specification, seeing the road cars outfitted with the aforementioned 600HP 2.1L BDT-E engine specifications, as well as the iconic 16-inch Speedline wheels, upgraded brakes and suspension - a true Group B monster for the street.
The Cultivated Collector’s 1986 Ford RS200 Evolution, chassis 0084 (Evo 214), presents today in factory original condition as an impeccable example of the 20 produced “Evolution” homologation specials. 0084 menacingly wears its original traditional Ford Works racing livery of a white base paint, overlaid with blue stripes. Delivered new to the late Robert Southerland, founder of the fabled Colorado Grand, 0084 would reside in his private collection until 1989, when it joined the Blackhawk Collection. The where it would remain in climate-controlled storage until May of 2019 when acquired by the esteemed Andrews collection in Texas. Recent work to 0084 in preparation for its sale in 2019 included fitting a new cooling system, fuel system, hoses, brakes, clutch, and all electrical. Additionally, during this time, the engine was rebuilt by specialist Geoff Paige in the UK ensuring nothing but the highest levels of quality and performance. One of only 20 produced, this highly original RS200 Evolution is an unmistakable cornerstone of rallying and Group B history.