Ford marks 30 years since the quirky RS200 made its competitive debut on the Lindisfarne Rally of 1985
We thought it was an ideal opportunity to look at some classic Fast Fords.
Ford said that the debut three decades ago was a test run, but the car went on to claim victory. Its potential was curtailed when the Group B category of rallying was ditched on safety grounds a year later, but the car is still remembered today. Here, we look at the RS200 and take the chance to profile some other great Fast Fords from over the years.
The RS200 is one of the most memorable Fords, probably for its slightly odd looks. They came from the fact that the firm wanted to build a purpose-built rally car and the result was a mid-engined, four-wheel-drive sports car.
Manufactured between 1984 and 1986, the RS200 was created to meet homologation rules, which meant that 200 road-legal versions of rally cars needed to be made and so they were, with power coming from 1.8-litre and 2.1-litre straight four engines. Ford made exactly 200 units, plus spares for another 20 or so for the racing teams.
Bizarrely, the tooling for the RS200 was later bought by a firm called Banham Conversions, who used it to make a kit car version based on none other than the Austin Maestro, which couldn’t have been further removed from the rally beast. The RS200 is, as we’ve seen, ultra-rare, so buying one isn’t easy.
If you manage to find one, and they are there if you look hard enough, expect to be parting with between £150,000 and £200,000.
Sierra RS Cosworth
Much like the RS200, the Sierra RS Cosworth was conceived with motorsport in mind, when Ford decided that it wasn’t competitive enough in racing.
The company teamed up with its long-time engine partner, Cosworth, which developed a turbocharged motor making 204hp in road-going form and 300hp for racing. The car fulfilled its brief in motorsport, enjoying success in Touring Car racing and also in rallying. A total of 30,932 were built, 5,000 of which were three-door versions.
In 1987, the even lairier RS500 saw, funnily enough, 500 examples built, while around 13,000 two-wheel-drive, four-door versions were made in 1988 and 1989. Finally, another 12,000 four-wheel-drive, four-door, versions were built between 1990-1992. Power ranged from 204hp to 224hp across the variants.
In the UK, it, alongside the Escort RS Cosworth, gained a bit of a reputation as a Boy Racer’s car, but they are now highly collectible. With that in mind, they command good money – between £15,000 and £20,000 is not unusual, with prices way above that in some cases for mint cars.
Escort RS Cosworth
Much like the RS200 of a decade before, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth was built to satisfy homologation rules to compete in the World Rally Championship, which it did between 1993 and 1998, enjoying plenty of success.
As a road car, it was built between 1992 and 1996 in limited numbers. Instantly recognisable, largely due to its huge rear spoiler, it was fitted with a turbocharged 2-litre Cosworth engine, putting out 217hp in its standard form, and it also appealed to tuners – with some achieving a ridiculous 1,000hp.
Although it used the body panels of the Mk5 Escort to achieve its familiar looks, the Escort Cosworth was actually built using the mechanicals of its predecessor, the Sierra Cosworth, which were better suited to handling the bigger Cosworth engine and transmission. It could hit almost 150mph and get to 62mph in barely six seconds. If you want one now, prices are similar to the Sierra Cosworth, with at least £15,000 required to join the club.
The first generation of the Ford Escort was a landmark car and a name that would go on to be produced for 30 years.
It replaced another famous name, the Ford Anglia, and immediately became popular. And it wasn’t just a hit with buyers for the road; the Mk1 Escorts saw lots of success as rally cars, becoming one of the most successful of all time in fact. The Ford works team was dominant in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with perhaps one of its most famous wins in the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally.
Legendary Finnish driver Hannu Mikkola was behind the wheel and, with the old adage of ‘win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday’ in mind, it wasn’t long before the road-going Escort Mexico special edition in honour of the victory was produced for showrooms. With its 1.6-litre Crossflow engine, it has become one of the most sought-after versions of the Mk1 Escort.
Unsurprisingly, good examples command proper classic car money – between £18,000 and £30,000, maybe more, will see you in the ball park.
The only one of our Fast Fords here not to derive from motorsport in some way – although it was raced in various forms – the Ford Capri was built as a fastback coupe from 1969 to 1986.
Philip T Clark was the man behind it and he had pedigree, being one of the main designers of the legendary Ford Mustang. The Capri was essentially the European equivalent of the Mustang. Although the Capri looked nice and sporty, it was underneath a less-glamorous Ford Cortina. The Capri was a success, selling close to 1.9 million over its lifetime.
Engine choices were many and varied, with a basic 1.3-litre available throughout its life (one for those buying for looks rather than performance), while the first version enjoyed a 5.0-litre V8 at one time. The top-end settled into a 3.0-litre V6 in the Mk2 and Mk3 cars.
By far the most vastly produced of the Fast Fords that we’ve looked at here, it’s also, as a result, probably the most affordable. Mk1 and Mk2 examples can be found for £5,000 to £7,000, but can command double that for mint cars. Although you’d expect the later Mk3s to be cheaper, you will be hard-pressed to find one for less than £4,000 and could pay four times that for rare, immaculate, models.