The cars : Ford RS200 production by Tickford

Keith Adams tells the story of the Ford RS200’s path to production, and Tickford’s role in the process.  

Ford RS200 (6)
Road-going RS200s being prepared by Tickford

The RS200 was a pure two-seater, mid-engined, four-wheel-drive car designed for Group B rally competition, to compete with the Lancia 037 and MG Metro 6R4.

The car was conceived in 1983 as a collaboration between Ford and Reliant. It turned out to be a very expensive one for Ford, which invested over £10m in producing the RS200.

The vehicle shell was designed by Ghia in Italy, working closely with the Ford Motorsport Design Team. The chassis was designed by former Formula 1 Designer Tony Southgate, and the car was constructed using a steel platform with a monocoque centre section bonded and riveted onto it. Three tubular steel subframes were bolted onto the platform forming a chassis.

The name suggests 200 cars were to be produced, but it is thought that far fewer (about 144) actually left the Reliant production line at Shenstone – of the cars produced, 90 were road cars, 29 were rally cars and 24 were of evolution spec, while one was a special GTO version.

The road cars were detuned for sale to the public and trimmed by Tickford to provide increased levels of comfort. These cars featured Sparco seats in red or black, with a leather trimmed XR3i steering wheel and a full stereo system. The road car also had fitted carpets and door inserts. Left and right-hand-drive cars were produced.

The engine was based on the RS1700T’s, which was still in development at the time. The 1.8-litre 16 valve DOHC engine was longitudinally mounted at the rear of the car and coupled with a hybrid TO3/4 Garrett turbo and developed 250bhp.

This was somewhat less than the rally version, which developed 380-450bhp. Top speed was still 142mph and the 0-60 time was about 5.2 seconds. The RS200 had a list price of £50,000.

Keith Adams


  1. The RS200 was quite a nice looking car, I’m surprised that they struggled to sell the planned number. I guess the early 80s was a tough time to sell exotic vehicles like this.

  2. Even harder to sell these in the early 80’s as they had not yet been built, these appeared right at the end of group B in 85 or 86.. If I recall the road cars were a result of having too many built at the end of Group B and ford had to do somthing with the remaing stock of now usless rally cars!

  3. Interesting too to see the poster of the Sierra RS500 up on the workshop wall. Tickford & Reliant at Shenstone modified the 500 Sierra Cosworths to RS500 specification too. (These must have been lucrative contracts for the two companies…)

  4. Tickford created the Tickford Capri too, with deep spoilers and an 80s aero-Ford style (lack of) grille.

    Then in the 90s, the Puma racing and Focus RS.

    Ford Australia worked with them to produce hot versions of the Falcon, before the Prodrive takeover.

  5. I was thinking of these only a day or 2 ago.

    Lots of memories of them being used in rally cross in the late 1980s.

    I’m surprised they didn’t sell well in the “buy to invest” boom that put the prices of many prestige cars up.

  6. Unlike the 6R4, the RS200 never established itself as a rally car for the “clubman” on national events.

  7. 50k was a huge amount of spondoolicks in 1983; according to my historic inflation calculator, that is the equivalent of £139,000 today. Ouch.

    Lovely car though, almost ‘cute’ – not a description usually associated with a rally car. Look forward to more Tickford memories from the author.

  8. @Landyboy..
    ARG selling 6R4s off new at £13K a peice rather than the £50K wanted by ford for an RS200 might be why!

  9. When I lived in Newport Pagnell, the Tickford chaps used to take home part-finished Capris with rivets showing everywhere. They looked a lot better finished.

  10. A friend of mine whom is deceased had one, and was valued well into six figures given its provenance.

  11. These road cars came onto the market just after the stock market went BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM, and the RS200 caused the end of group B rallying, so at the time, they didn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of selling them. Handling was decidedly suspect too, as they wanted to swap ends all too easily

  12. Did you know you used to get a Banham200 Kit-car body… required the Maestro as a donor car… apparently, teamed up with the T16, it was a really light and fast beast…

  13. It reminds me of the 406 coupe-based Ferrari F360 kit.

    Loads of fun pretending you’ve got a sports car, but if you ever need to drop it off at the mechanics, having to explain that it’s actually a 406 / Maestro 🙂

    Always thought a diesel example of one of these kit cars would be amusing too, the petrol station attendant wouldn’t authorise the pump 🙂

  14. There is one name linked with the RS200, and that is Mr Rallycross himself, Martin Schanche, a grade one psychopath, who seemed to love causing mayhem, and almost got himself run over when he had a tantrum. It got him a juicy ban

  15. I have two RS200’s.

    Don’t panic guys, they’re Scalextric models. One in white the other in yellow livery.

    I converted my loft in 2011 to lay the track. I still haven’t got round to it yet. ‘Got to do it soon!

  16. £50,000 was a helluva lot 30 years ago, nearly Rolls Royce territory for a car that was based on an Escort. Now if they fitted the RS 200 with some bad mutha 5.7 litre Cleveland V8 that sounded like a pit bull with attitude, then it would have been interesting.

  17. Great article, Keith – and a lot of photos I haven’t seen before. Most of them look like the Bedworth factory, but the last two definitely aren’t. Are they Shenstone or Milton Keynes ?

  18. Ford brought one of these to the Uni’ of Cardiff to give a presentation to the local Institution of Mechanical Engineers. They tried to drive it up the steps into the foyer, but the spoiler was too low, so they parked it round the back.
    They told us they tested prototypes on local roads around Maccyncleth, but the local lads in Escorts kept challenging them, and knew the lanes better than the visitors did!

  19. Just did a Google search on these. Two original ones sold recently for £80k and £120k. Not bad for a 20 year old car! There’s also a flourishing market in replicas.

  20. Why didnt they all sell? Well £50K would be an enourmous amount for a Ford today. Completely off the scale in 1986. Also the car was withdrawn from Rallying before it really started so the unsold road cars had no pedigree to fall back on. Finally the economy began to fall apart with Black Monday in October 1987. 15% interest rates, piles of negative equity and a Tory Government even more useless that this one did nothing to boost confidence!

  21. An 80s Fast Ford that I dont like is a rare beast , but this is that very thing. Give me a 3 door Sierra Cosworth or a Tickford Turbo Capri , but not an RS200 , I just dont get the looks at all.

  22. I’ve just been looking to try & find out where the Tickford Works was in Bedworth (between Coventry & Nuneaton).

    After some digging around, I found the address:
    Aston Inductrial Estate
    Hoisery Street
    CV12 9ND

    Went straight there on Google Maps, then Street View just to find a whole load of new houses :-(.

    Just to the side of them behind a new church-thing is some cleared land, so part of it may have been there too.

  23. I worked there building the RS200s. Had some fun in them. The last photo was at the Racing Puma factory in Daventry where I worked as well. That was a Tickford owners club meet.

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