Market Finds: This Ford RS200 Evolution Is Factory Fresh, Fully For Sale

This Ford RS200 Evolution Is Factory Fresh, Fully For Sale

By Andrew Golseth
February 29, 2016

Photography Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

We’d apologize for all the Group B coverage as of late, but we assume you don’t mind us saturating the topic! After all, has there ever been a more exciting class of motorsport? From tarmac to gravel, compressed suspension to mud-chucking tires, massive leaps to violent power slides. The bangs and pops from the bellowing turbocharged mechanical cores… it really was the “Golden Era” of rally.

Thankfully, the FIA required entry participants to drive “production” vehicles, so we got a lineup of homologation racers for public roads. This 1985 Ford RS200 Evolution is one of those very cars. Only a couple hundred road going Ford RS200 were produced in order to satisfy FIA regulations, of which, just 24 were ramped up to Evolution spec—making this car one of the most desirable examples available, and likely the least used among them. The odometer tallies less than 450 kilometers since new (around 280 miles). Before we launch into the details of this factory fresh Evo, let’s cover the car’s origin.

After dominating the 1970s World Rally Championship with its legendary Escorts, Ford was an established competitor in the world of rally. By the early ’80s, Ford naturally set its crosshairs on the new Group B series with its 1700T project—a rear-wheel drive Mk III Escort with a snail-equipped four cylinder. Lucky for us, the development team ran into production hurdles that were deemed too difficult to clear, so Ford started from ground zero.

With a fresh start, Ford decided in order to stay competitive an all-wheel drivetrain would be required to hang with the AWD rivals. British engineer and Formula One designer Tony Southgate and Formula One engineer John Wheeler Formula One were brought on board to mock up an all-new chassis.

Cosworth provided the turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder which was mounted amidships while the transmission was stuck up front for optimal weight distribution—making the RS200 one of most balanced of the Group B bunch. Packing more than 400 horsepower in a fiberglass/composite body, the RS200 could launch from zero-to-60 mph in just over 3 seconds, making it the fastest accelerating production car—a title it held in the Guinness Book of World Records for 12 years!

Ghia was tasked with penning the now iconic body, which is aggressive and solely purposeful. The Evolution models are easily identifiable, too—thanks to their massive roof scoop.

The primary difference between the competition RS200 versus the homologation streetcars lies within the cabin. Obviously, the racers sported little more than a cage and pair of bucket seats while the production variants were fully upholstered from Tickford. All road cars came standard with grey carpet with complementing door inserts and red Sparcos with matching steering wheel—Not quite luxury, but enough to call “civil.”

The Evolution models came with revised suspension, upgraded brakes (a weak point for the standard RS), additional ducting, and the standard 1.8 was punched out to 2.1-liters. Depending on the tune, Evolutions could put out well over 500 horsepower. This particular RS200 was tuned to the song of 600. That’ll suffice.

Oilman Dennis O-Connor, who owned three other RS200, originally purchased this Evolution. O’Connor passed away in 1997, leaving the Ford in his estate until 2010, when DirtFish Rally School founder Steve Rimmer acquired the car. In 2014, Rimmer sold the RS to a UK-based collector who’s now offering sale at Amelia Island on March 12.

The car has been lovingly maintained and is said to be in near-flawless factory condition, inside and out. So, what would you do with a ‘new’ RS200 Evolution?

Buy it, plastic-wrap-it, and stuff it in a climate controlled storage facility, forever hiding it from the elements? Or would you strap in, fire it up, and peg the 8,000 rpm redline down the first dirt path you run across? I wonder if DirtFish would extend a coupon for old time’s sake…

– One of only 24 RS200 Evolutions built
– Upgraded by the factory to 600 brake horsepower
– Less than 450 original kilometers
– Long-standing Guinness record for “fastest accelerating car in the world”

~600 hp, 2,137 cc DOHC 16-valve turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with Bosch electronic fuel injection, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent double wishbone suspension, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 99.6 in.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: SFACXXBJ2CGL00070
Serial no.: 213
Engine no.: BDT 0018

Auction house: RM Sotheby’s
Estimate: $475,000 – $675,000
Price realized: Auction on March 12


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8 years ago

The RS200 looks great but probably for this very reason is the most overhyped Group B car. It really didn’t amount to much in Group B but for some reason people keep repeating the same “most advanced, most balanced” mantra whose origin is a mystery to me. The reality is that it was too heavy and the turbo lag was so horrendous that it only managed a single third place finish in group B. Oh yes, there is the whole “they just didn’t time to fully develop it” story but compare that to the Lancia Delta S4 – it won its very first Group B outing and just kept winning. In some way the delta S4 is the exact opposite of the RS200 – very successful and technically fascinating but, to put it mildly, not all that pleasing to the eye…

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
8 years ago

Unlike your incessant and unrelenting Ferrari coverage …

You just can’t do too many Group B and Group B related articles [ not to mention the stillborn Group S which errr …. y’all seem to ignore ] Fact is ‘ Too Much ‘ and ‘ Group B ‘ in the same sentence is an oxymoron

But back on topic . Ahhh … the RS200 … if only Group B [ or its replacement Group S ] could of only carried on . One wonders then what the RS200 could of become had a bit more development and time gone into the beast . Price wise its amazing five years ago you couldn’t give these things away whereas now their prices are soaring into the Stratos(phere) …. pun intended .

PS ; Damn the detractors and keep them Group B articles a coming … but do pay a bit of attention to the stillborn Group S as well as the previous Groups 1-4 .

Tim Scott
Tim Scott
8 years ago
Reply to  Guitar Slinger

Group S did carry on. After Group A was fazed out, Group S formed the basis of what is the World Rally Car (WRC), albeit with more HP.

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