For years, many people were baffled when they opened up the Guinness Book of Records and discovered that the world’s fastest accelerating car was a none other than a Ford - and a curiously small, almost goofy looking one which looked like nothing made on American soil.
That’s because the RS200 was a homologation special produced by Ford of Great Britain. It was specifically designed as Ford’s first four wheel drive contender for the radical Group B class rally racing, but a minimum number of road-certified examples had to be made to meet homologation requirements.
Since the best in the business came out to help Ford, including chief engineer John Wheeler and Tony Southgate, the RS200 Evolution represented the absolute pinnacle of modern racing development. What these blokes did was take bits from the old RS1700T breed of rally cars, mount a modified version the Ford/Cosworth engine in the middle of a lightweight aluminum chassis, clothe it with a simple white gel coat body designed by Ghia and then apply the four wheel drive forumula which Audi sucessfully introduced into the series.
While over 200 standard RS200s were made, only 24 Evolution models were produced to stay ahead of the competition. These included a special BTD-E 2.1 liter engine equipped with a massive turbo to the effect of 420 bhp. Each was easily identified by the much larger air scoop that houses the large air/air intercooler. Depending on boost, the engine could produce a wide range of power, and at maximum boost (1.6 bar, 23psi) it offered a remarkable 580 bhp at 8000 rpm. When combining the extremely lightweight chassis, a low polar moment of inertia and massive amount of turbo-lag, power delivery on the limit was particularly hard to manage.
However, the resulting four wheel drive monster was ’the fastest accelerating car in the world’, and as driven by Stig Blomqvist, a RS200 Evo achieved the 0-62mph (100kph) Guinness world record time of 3.07 seconds, a figure that stood for twelve years!