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Potential Purchase of the Week: 1986 Ford RS200

Group B rallying may have died in early 1986, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the frenentic, high-speed, all-wheel-drive vehicles that made the series (in)famous. In fact, one example of a homologated "killer B" -- a 1986 Ford RS200 -- is slated to roll across the auction block at RM's Amelia Island event in March.

Cars created for Group B had few technical restrictions, allowing manufacturers to dabble with all-wheel-drive, composite materials, and wild, turbocharged engines. The one hurdle, however, was building a small batch of street-legal counterparts to homologate the vehicle as a production model. The RS200 shown here is one of roughly 200 built by Ford's European motorsport wing before the FIA killed the series.

Although many parts were cribbed from standard Sierra coupes (known here as the Merkur XR4Ti), the RS200 was a bespoke vehicle, purpose built to dominate on the special stage. Ford recruited F1 designers Tony Southgate and John Wheeler to design the car's tube frame chassis. For optimal weight savings and distribution, the RS200 made use of both a Ghia-styled fiberglass body and a mid-mounted engine.

Most road-going RS200s were fitted with a turbocharged, 1.8-liter I-4, but FIA rules did allow Ford to offer a so-called Evo model, which gained a Cosworth-tuned, turbocharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder, similar to that used in the actual rally vehicles. This particular example, chassis 087 (or Evo chassis number 207),  is one of 20 built to this specification. Power from the engine is said to be in the neighborhood of 420 horsepower -- and although shy of the 600 ponies produced by race models, is still enough to help the RS200 sprint from 0-60 mph in roughly three seconds.

The biggest change from its rally car sibling, however, lies with its interior. Unlike the race-spec models, roadgoing RS200s received a fully trimmed interior, including a complete dashboard, carpeting, door panels, and fully trimmed seats. Additionally, the five-point racing harnesses have given way in favor of conventional three-point restraints.

Why would I want one?

The RS200 may be 25 years old, but it's still a technical wunderkind in its own right -- and is certainly capable of outgunning many of today's sports cars. It's a great piece of racing, rally, and Ford history -- and with 3334 miles on the odometer, this example is a fairly clean survivor. Better yet, since the car is now 25 years old, it's now capable of being registered and driven in most of the United States without multiple legal loopholes.

Interested? Look for bidding to commence at RM Auctions' Automobiles of Amelia Island on March 12.

Source: RM Auctions