Group B Worship: Ford RS200 and Audi Sport Quattro – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

Group B Worship: Ford RS200 and Audi Sport Quattro – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

[MUSIC PLAYING] The RS200 was designed
to be nothing other than a rally car. It didn’t have to look like
a Sierra or an Escort or something that had to be
sold in the showrooms. Much like the Lancia Stratos and
the 037, it was designed to win rallies. It was a prototype in the
correct sense of the word. But of course, through those
homologation rules, Ford had to build 200 of them. So they had to be road cars
as well, leading to those extraordinary street versions. This is one of them. And I’m going to drive it. I’ve always wanted to do this. [REVVING ENGINE] What a rattle box. I think we’re gonna
have some fun. Good God. So, Stig Blomqvist, Kalle
Grundel, the people that kept me awake at night when I
was a kiddie watching rallying on BBC Two. Finally get to try and be you. Look at this driving position. Look at this cabin. Tiny. See if we can not stall it. Oh, that’s hilarious. I can’t actually see
too much out of it. Oh, it’s just a collection
of really nasty noises. But you know what? Nasty noises in the context of
a Group B car, good noises. The RS200 was designed
to be functional. It had short overhangs and
enough intakes to ingest massive amounts of air. About the easiest car to stall
I’ve ever driven, though. I’ve got a handbrake. Does the handbrake work? Handbrake works. So as I try and kangaroo through
southwest London’s suburbs, maybe time
to think about the specification of this car. The engine, and this is where
we’re going to be a bit geeky, is 1.8 liters. As a child, I got this
all a bit about face. I thought this had a Sierra
Cosworth engine. Two-liter with that famous
Cosworth block that went on to fire everything from Sierra
Cosworth, Sapphire Cosworth, Escort Cosworth. You know, the definitive
four-cylinder engine. This is different. This has got a BDT, for the
geeks out there, and it’s based on the famous BDA, which
was the engine made famous in the Mark II Escort. So it’s immensely strong and
can produce enormous power. As many of you will know, the
RS200 had a very short rally life that we’ll discuss
in a minute. But it went on to do many other
things, including Pike’s Peak and RallyCross, mainly. And the BDT apparently, legend
has it, can produce up to 800 horsepower. But this one is a
stock road car. It’s owned by Ford in the UK. It has about 250 horsepower,
maybe a little less, about 200 foot-pounds of torque, and it
weighs about 1,150 kilograms. So it’s not that heavy, but
it’s no great fireball. Top speed, they claimed a little
over 140 miles an hour, but 0 to 60 in five seconds
because of the four-wheel drive system. The four-wheel drive system. This is where the RS200
is fascinating. So, much like the Stratos,
Ford decided it wanted a mid-engine car with a short
wheelbase to be able to change direction. Rallying is, after all, about
direction changes in a car that’s agile, easily agitated. So it went down a mid-engine
route. But for weight distribution,
it put gearbox ahead of the engine. So underneath this
gear lever here, there’s a great big lump. You’ll see it in a second. That is the gearbox. The gearbox is there and
the engine’s behind me. It’s an in-line four cylinder. So what happens in the RS200
is that the power is taken forwards to the gearbox
and then taken back to the back axle. Now how can I described
this to you. It’s like a Nissan GTR
going backwards. So an RS200 going forwards is
almost identical in terms layout as a GTR going
backwards. It does mean there’s quite a bit
of transmission noise and clonk and rattle, all the
half-shafts and prop-shafts trying to get power to somewhere
odd where it doesn’t want to go naturally. It just makes it the most
fascinating bit of history. I love it. I absolutely love it. And I wish videos did smells. Because this just smells
of motor sport. Smells of motor sport
goodness. Today the RS200 strikes an
interesting shape on the road, and here on its own. It doesn’t actually
look that old. Partly because many modern
performance cars now have gaping mesh-covered holes like
this 26-year-old car. The machine itself
was assembled at the Reliant factory. Yes, the same people that
built the famous three-wheeler. And the finish was– how
can I put this– rough and ready. But it was designed to rally,
not to win a panel gap competition. The interior on the 200 road
cars was a smash and grab raid on the Ford of Europe’s
parts bin. But it kind of worked. The rest was pure motor
sport fantasy. Twin coilovers at each corner
and a vast, single-piece rear clamshell that gave excellent
access to the engine bay. The RS200 appears dumpy to
those who don’t know, but beautiful to those
of us do know. It’s a fascinating car to
drive now, the RS200. Terrible at low speed. But once you get it up on its
toes, the inherent rightness of the size and weight
distribution shines through. The four-wheel drive system
makes it want to understeer. But trailing throttle into
a turn sorts that out. Then full power brings
it straight again. It feels like it could handle
750 horsepower, which is exactly what it ended up doing
at Pike’s Peak with Stig. But the RS200’s story is one
of pain and mistakes. Its development was
painfully slow. It didn’t manage to compete in
a world championship event in 1985, debuting in ’86, by which
time Peugeot’s 205 and Lancia’s Delta S4
were unbeatable. And then came Portugal. [INAUDIBLE] scenes as spectators lined the
roadside and attempted to touch 500-horsepower cars as
they drifted past them. It was only ever going
to end one way. And tragically for Ford, it was
Joaquim Santos involved in an accident that would kill
three spectators. Group B was done for. This is the great fascination
of the RS200. It was late arriving. It only ever scored a third
place on Rally Sweden in ’86. And it was actually a little too
heavy to compete with the French and Italian teams. But to many people, me included,
it still kind of defines Group B, a form of motor
sport that captured the imagination so profoundly that
companies like Ford felt compelled to drop millions
developing a car that didn’t even offer tangible marketing
crossover into a production car. As a competition machine, and as
a sales tool, the RS200 was sadly a failure. A magnificent failure that we
should all be thankful for. The same could we said of this
lump of green loveliness. The Audi Sport Quattro was
Germany’s answer to the Lancia, the Peugeot,
and the Ford. Audi’s position within rallying
couldn’t have been more different to Ford’s. The Quattro had profoundly
changed the sport in the early ’80s. But the company had lost the
initiative and needed a car to compete with the
new prototypes. But Audi’s approach to rallying
was more pragmatic. It was building a brand on the
back of four-wheel drive and the inherent safety it provided
in road cars. And it insisted that its rally
car at least resemble the stuff it sold in showrooms. It needed a more powerful, agile
machine, so it chopped 320 millimeters from the
wheelbase of the standard Quattro, added wider wings,
and took a 2.1-liter, five-cylinder motor out
to 306 horsepower. Like the RS200, Audi had to
build 200 road version to comply with the regulations. But this was a fully trimmed
road car with all the luxuries you’d expect from something that
was twice as expensive as a regular Quattro. The problem was, the Sport
Quattro was now so nose-heavy, it understeered like
a 911 on 2CV tires. This is one of the 200 Sport
Quattros built for the road. In fact, there might have
been a few less. There’s a bit of conjecture
out there. But I don’t want to
get involved in that particular argument. It feels incredibly special. To a rally obsessive like me,
this is a very special moment. I’ve never sat in one of these,
let alone driven one. Immobilizer, a good ’90s-style
immobilizer. Key in there, no throttle. Rumbles a bit. What’s it like to drive
a Sport Quattro? First of all, it feels very
contemporary Audi to me, and that’s in a good way. I love the typefaces
on the dials. It feels tiny in here as well. For the first and perhaps last
time, the seat, for me– a massive 5′ 7″ of me– is almost at the back of its
reach in terms of leg length. Gearbox throw is quite long. Engine is lovely. It’s laggy. But it’s torque-y
and, oh, wow. So the gearbox, the throw is
quite long on the lever. And it’s got turbo lag, 3,000
RPM it just starts to build, boost gauge flickers. It’s quick, you know,
properly quick. I like it. I really like it. Odd sensation in through this
quicker stuff, it’s actually quite nice and stable. As it naturally wants to
understeer because of all that immense weight out front,
ahead of the front axle. I love it. What did it feel
like in period? 306 horsepower, 260 foot-pounds
of torque, a little over 1,250 kilograms
in weight. It must have felt
like a lunatic. I think we tried to work out
how many cars have gone sub-five seconds to 62 miles an
hour from a standstill on piston heads, and it
was about five. This was one of the
world’s fastest cars when it was launched. Still feels quick now. It’s actually quite hard trying
to think about how to describe the differences
between the two cars. And even to flip on its head,
I’m trying to find the similarities. The RS200 was just
a prototype. It is just a little body shell
with amazing suspension and components designed to go fast
that happens to have a couple of seat in it. This is a proper road car. It’s beautifully trimmed. The seats are comfortable. It’s got heated seats,
electric windows. It’s lovely. I could imagine getting in this
car, driving it to Geneva for the weekend. I really can. I’m surprised at how
usable it is. I read that it was a bit of sort
of turbo lag nightmare. Yeah, it’s got some lag. But that just adds to
the experience. If you’re gonna get in the sport
quattro, I want lag. I don’t want some
super-responsive, normally aspirated engine. I can get that in
a modern car. This is different. And then there’s the
[INAUDIBLE] noise. I love it. I love it. I want it. I want it. But it’s 149,000 pounds. It’s impossible to compare these
two as road cars today. One is a competition car with
license plates, the other, a staggeringly fast street car
contorted to go rallying. As competition cars, neither of
these machines quite lived up to the investment and
care lavished on them. But that doesn’t matter now. Because they remind us of
when rallying was great. [MUSIC PLAYING]

100 thoughts on “Group B Worship: Ford RS200 and Audi Sport Quattro – /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS”


  2. Im so confused as to how I am just now seeing this Harris vid…but then I remember that I smoke a lot of weed, and probably just forgot over the years…marijuana is amazing, reliving things for the second or who knows, maybe even third time.

  3. As a kid in the 80s I absolutely loved the RS200, it looked so different to everything else and seemed very futuristic. I had 2 of the Matchbox cars models in white/blue finish, actually, thinking about it, I might even still have them along with a load of my other toy cars.

    It's about as near as I'll ever get to owning one of these beauties.

  4. Didn't always need to fail in competion, Martin Schance beat everyones ass withe one, as exmple here: If

  5. watching these old chris harris videos, it really makes me realize how much he can bring to top gear (which i haven't seen new episodes yet)

  6. "its impossible to compare these two cars" uhh yeah. quattro is better. the ford is underpowered, overweight and under engineered. still a great car tho.

  7. sorry Chris there are three versions of rs200 road, rally and the EVO THEY MADE 20 620 BHP IN 1986 2,93 SECONDS TO 60 I HAVE ALREADY SEEN A 10,02 Second quarter mile on road tyres and geared for 200 mph

  8. This guy is still as useless at videoing stuff about cars just look at top gear his emotions are so fake and scripted

  9. I own a rs 200 in Canada and looking to sell also have many spare parts all original if anyone is interested please email me thanks

  10. I still remember like yesterday the first Quattro Sport I seen on the road, I just fell in love with the thing there and then, it was white and it pulled up at traffic lights in front of me as I was walking home from school. I remember every detail of those few moments. Watching this video brought me right back to that day. The nostalgia just feels amazing. I'm a car guy all my life and theres only a handful of cars that I get that feeling with but the Audi Quattro will always have that room in my head.

  11. Love that car always been curious about it but this video makes it seem like a horrible choice in terms of ownership. Still love the RS200 but would choose a RS500 any day. Great piece of engineering but would drive me mad as a daily driver. Kudos to those who have these in mint condition, garaged, driving 200 miles a year.

  12. So awesome what YouTube should be all about. I never thought I would have the privilege to virtually sit in either of these cars. And with the LBM (little brown man) driving… what a gift. How am I supposed to research my SUV buying which distractions like this!! Hmm. I thought the RS200 had a Cosworth engjne too. I only have one question. I remember that car being able to make it to 60 in under 3 seconds. Must have been a different version? As for the Quattro..why does that Giugiaro design not only hold up over time, but, dare I say, even look better and better?!

  13. After seeing the thumbnail instantly clicked. Then realised to my dissapointment. That the most dull person to ever be commentating on cars was doing it. Ffs man. Get some energy and excitement about tha reviews. Again youve taken awsome cars and made them sound as dull as dishwatter. .

  14. EPIC! I too was a small boy back in the days when these Group B monsters went to battle. Next up Peugeot 205 T16 vs Lancia 037? Please Santa, I've been good all year… 🙂

  15. I love the sounds from the gearbox. It reminds me of the GM, aluminum M-22 “rock crusher” 4-speed. Straight cut gears and that wondrous gear whine!

  16. I got driven in an RS200 customer car as a teen. It was mega!!!
    T.C.Harrison's Sheffield had 2 delivered while I was there being nosey.

  17. i'd take the Quattro over anything nowadays… the 5 cylinder Turbo – just.. i wouldnt have to think twice to pick a proper S1 over an R8

  18. I always thought that the BDT engine under performed in the 18ltr form , only the Evo version with increased capacity gave the performance to match the looks , though group B was dead by that, but it proved itself in the following years in Rally cross.

  19. i have always had german cars and never liked fords but i would love to own an old ford now days, i'd have one over a german any day

  20. Chris- you do a very good job on these videos. Kudos. I thought as to why and determined : you do so in a low key NO EGO manner, you don't add cheesy music, you are comfortable in your own skin and don't appear desperate to be perceived as cool, and your know your subject matter and are well spoken . Thank you

  21. Chris I raced my TR-7 Modified at 127-130MOh on the Michighan Freeway not bad if I had ralley car I could have done 155 ,I recon

  22. its a shame that these are too rare to be afforded by regular people who arent rich and like these cars because of what they are physicly not because of rarity and status

  23. He is wrong. The reason we se the RS200 side by side with the Audi on multiple pictures from that era is because the Ford RS200 also had a 2,1l Cosworth engine in addtiion to the normal 1.8l.
    In Group B rally they separate cars by engine size, cars with 2l+ would go in a different class then a 1,8l. You can find this info on wikipedia and multiple videos on YouTube.
    The car wasn't a failure like he makes an impression of, the RS200 won multiple European Rallycross championships.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *