Park City, Utah - We all have a dream car, the one we lusted over before we were old enough to drive, the car we would own if we could have only one, but money was no object.
In Ken Block’s case, not surprisingly, it’s the (just about) street-legal derivative of a mid-1980s Group B rally car. Because in the mad, bad old days of Group B, any 2.2-litre production car was eligible for world championship rallying, with no limits on induction, engine power or drivetrain. As long as you built and sold 200 examples for the road, it was deemed to a be production car.
And so, between 1984 and 1986, Ford built the RS200, a compact, mid-engined, all-wheel drive beast of a car with a 1.8-litre BDT turbopetrol four that kicked out a reputed 340kW in full factory trim.
The chassis was designed from the ground up for rallying by F1 designer Tony Southgate (with fibreglass body by Ghia) and had double-wishbone suspension with dual shocks at each corner; making it reputedly the best-balanced and most driveable of all the Group B rally cars.
Ford built just 200 replicas with proper seats, dashboards and (sort of) silencers, and sold them to the public, to make the rally-spec RS200 eligible for world championship rallying. Like all homologation specials, they were noisy, cramped and uncomfortable - and they instantly became cult cars.
But the RS200 didn’t have the power to compete with the 2.2-litre, five-cylinder Audi quattro, so Ford got busy designing a 2137cc Evo version of the BDT engine with a gynormous Garrett turbocharger that boosted it to an astonishing 522kW - but before it could make its competition debut the FIA banned Group B rallying after a series of fatal crashes.
A number of BDT-E engines had already been built, however, so 24 RS200 chassis were updated to take this fire-breathing engine, creating a derivative unofficially code-named RS200E - and it is one of those two dozen cars, chassis number 34 of the original 200 production units, that Block found (he won’t say where) and bought.
It had originally been white, with diagonal ‘factory racing’ blue diagonal stripes, but when Block bought the car it was bright blue all over - so he had it re-finished in Hoonigan matte-black livery by first having it sprayed gloss black all over and then wrapping the whole car except where the original blue stripes were, with matt vinyl. The result is, to say the least, striking.
And what’s it like to drive? Let Ken Block tell you all about it himself.
Coincidentally, my all-time dream car is also a homologation version of a rally car, the Lancia Delta Integrale that dominated world championship rallying for six years after the demise of Group B.