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Ford RS200

The Ford RS, despite bearing the name of an American brand, the entire RS model lineup owes part of its existence to European minds. The model’s lineage first traces back to Cologne with the Ford of Germany 15M RS Coupe, with later models like the RS1600 being developed in Northampton, United Kingdom, by the visionaries at Cosworth — so it is safe to say that the RS lineup has a few passport stamps.

While we are not here to discuss the international itinerary of the entire RS stable, we are here to discuss the all-wheel-drive myth which ascended to the limelight during this era, outshining its forefathers in the process.

Enter the RS200: The homologation special which emerged from the dust in 1983 like a rally phoenix, intent on dominating the Group-B competition without remorse! It was a down-right insane piece of engineering, and one that still has enthusiasts pining for a single lap behind its wheel. Though the RS200 needs no introduction, here are a few more reasons why this motor-sport great is one of our favorites.

Homologated Icon

At the time, Group-B literature had dictated that all entrants be permitted to use high-tech materials in their designs, along with a very important phrase which stated that teams did not have to adhere to a boost restriction. Ford followed through with the homologation guidelines by producing 200 originals — saving parts for another 20 or so examples, should the need arise. Twenty-four of those original models would then later be converted into “Evolution” models, while spare parts would go on to be used by enthusiasts to create a handful of imitation or “bitsa” kits cars — though none of these would ever go on to reach the six-figure auction prices of an original.

Straight-four symphony 

Frankly, this reason does not warrant an explanation. If your ears have ever been blessed with the sound of a Cosworth-tune Garrett T3 turbo-charge four-banger bouncing off of the rev-limiter at 8,000 revolutions per minute, you would understand our logic. There is just something angry, exciting, and unmistakable about that sound — one that we would gladly play on repeat, for the record.

The 1980s Aesthetic

Say what you want, but the Group-B days of rally produced some of the best-looking rally cars to date. With boxy adversaries around every corner, the RS200 dared to challenge the 1980s era of automotive design with softer more-rounded styling cues. It did not rely on acute angles and sharp body kits to impress the crowd: instead, opting to have its race performance speak for itself. Every time those spherical headlights and slanted spoiler rounded another stage corner, you knew exactly which car it was — no introduction needed!

The golden ratio

 The RS200 was a motor-sport maestro of its time: unifying together all its mechanical subsystems into one powerful and highly-effective package. Altering itself to different rally stages and terrain scenarios like a chameleon, the RS200’s rally successes are owed in part to its ability to put power down reliably via a high-output small-displacement forced-induction engine mated to a three-pedal transmission setup.

 A simple glance under the rear-hatch reveals a beautiful independent rear suspension and compact engine bay — further proving this notion. The RS200 represented the total package: speed, agility, and handling — the holy trinity of the sport. With the ability to adapt to its surroundings at a pacenote’s notice, the RS200 remains one of the most-successful rally cars ever built.