RS2000 Kit Car
RS Series

Mention “RS2000” to a car enthusiast and they will often go all misty-eyed, recalling the good ol’ days of forest arches, Roger Clark, the RAC Rally and all sorts of other eGuy Woodcockvocative images from the 1970s. No one can deny that it was a great time for rallying, and for Ford, but the association of the RS2000 badge with this period is often slightly misconceived. Ford had big success in the “golden era” of rallying, but not with the RS2000. This success was down to other models; namely the Twin Cam, RS1600 and RS1800. The rear-drive RS2000s have undoubtedly got involved over the years, with vast numbers of cars built since those early days, but the RS2000 name was never synonymous with the world of rallying, at least, not until some 20 years later.

During the 1980s, with the arrival of the first front wheel drive Escorts, rally success was proving much harder to come by for Ford. Although these cars did compete in XR and RS form, their success was limited compared to their older, RWD, forerunners. There was also the doomed RS1700T project, which was soon replaced by the RS200; a car killed off with the demise of Group B. As the 1980s wore on, Ford turned to the Sierra for rally success. This proved to be a good move, with the Sierra Cosworth proving a very competent car, bringing many national trophies. But, it soon became apparent that the rear wheel drive Sierra was a dying breed. Thanks to the dominance of Audi, four wheel drive had well and truly arrived and Ford needed to evolve or be left behind.Gottig

Fast forward to the early 1990s and the Sierra was still soldiering on, flying the flag whilst the Escort Cosworth was undergoing the final stages of development. However, changes were afoot. Rallying was seeing a revolution; a revolution that was certain to upset the purists, and those misty-eyed, 1970s, fans mentioned earlier. With most manufacturers now swaying heavily towards front wheel drive, the old rear drive Escorts and Chevettes were all becoming far less relevant to the modern world of automotive design. Top level rallying was now well into the realms of heavily modified homologation specials; four wheel drive, big budgets and hugely expensive builds. Although still popular and entertaining, it was far removed from most people’s perceptions of a showroom car. With this, a new type of rallying had emerged, for front wheel drive only. With capacity limited to two litres and strict regulations, it much better represented the vast array of cars available in showrooms of the time. Formula 2 had arrived.

In the sections early days, the ever-popular Peugeot 205 GTI was often seen slugging it out with Vauxhall Astra GTEs and Vauxhall had a lot of success in F2 during this time, with the ex-British champion, Dai Llewellin, winning two British F2 championships in an Astra. Guy Woodcock Other manufacturers began joining up rapidly; including Nissan, Volkswagen and Skoda. It soon became clear that this was a marketing opportunity not to be missed for Ford. Of course a suitable car was required and, although competition had never been at the forefront of the designer’s minds, with the recently released RS2000 they had the perfect candidate. As a road car, it had proven a capable rival to the Astra GSI and Golf GTI, and they had already gained some experience of how the car fared in a competition environment with the Rallye Sport Series of 1992 and 1993. Of course, there was a lot of work ahead, so Ford turned to a company that had been heavily involved with the Cosworth program; Gordon Spooner Engineering of Essex who, in 1993, were tasked with turning the RS2000 into a credible F2 car. With Baz Cannon appointed as chief engineer of the project; the first cars made their competition debut the following year, and the rest is history...