The RS200 was arguably the most attractive of all the Group B metal made and its blown BDT engine – sited behind the crew in the middle of the machine – was more than capable of the sort of numbers required to compete against the growing powers of Peugeot (205 T16) and Lancia (Delta S4). The decision to install the gearbox, front and centre differentials at the front of the car might have meant twice as many propshafts for the Ford, but the flip side was an RS200 reckoned to be the most balanced and easiest (least difficult…) of cars to drive from that generation. But it came too late. Group B was banned less than a year after it arrived and 200 of the most exotic and cool looking cars ever to grace the Blue Oval followed the RS1700T into the Boreham bin.
Actually, that’s not true. Because the RS200 went through the Group B homologation process, 200 were built and a good few of them are still around today. One of them is in the hands of American Gymkhana star Ken Block, who rates it regularly as his best and most exhilarating ride for the road. And it’s 34 years old.
When Group B went south, Ford was left in something of a quandary. It had two great cars for rallying, but one had the right engine and turbo – the Sierra RS Cosworth (increasingly a mainstay of touring car championships around the world) and the Sierra XR4x4. The latter, as you’d expect from its moniker, came with four-wheel-drive (albeit in a fairly agricultural state), but the lump up front was a slightly breathless, atmospheric 2.8-litre V6. The car was homologated into Group A, but lacked anything like the power to take on Lancia’s Delta force. Eventually, in its saloon Sapphire form, the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 4x4 arrived.
Now Ford was back in the game. From this car’s arrival in 1990, the Blue Oval had the look of a genuine contender once again. But this was only the beginning. Just as the RS1600 had morphed into the RS1800, so the Sierra would mutate to one of the most potent rally cars of its generation: the Escort RS Cosworth.