Here are our favourites
by Sarah Bradley, 31 December 2015
The latest Focus RS may cost nearly 30k, but you can buy some of its performance classic ancestors for a lot less – and several for considerably more…
When Ford’s all-new Focus RS hot hatch hits showrooms in 2016 priced at nearly £30,000, it’ll redefine the market in a way that so many of its performance predecessors did before it. The hallowed RS badge has been used on a long line of fire-breathing machinery – and whatever your budget, you should be able to find a pre-loved one to suit. Here are our favourites.
Ford Sapphire RS Cosworth (1988-1992)
In comparison to Sierra Cosworths – which have recently skyrocketed to £60,000-plus for RS500s and more than £30,000 even for the ‘normal’ three-door – the stiffer-platformed, rally-focused Sapphire RS Cosworth looks rather a good deal. It uses the ‘YB’ 2.0-litre turbo from the earlier cars and later Escort Cosworth, and was initially available in rear-wheel drive before swapping to four-wheel drive in 1990. Pay £15,000 for a superb example, and far less for a project.
Ford Focus RS Mk1 (2002-2003)
With 212bhp, a standard limited-slip diff, 5.9sec 0-60mph time and rally-car looks – oh, and the most ‘entertaining’ front-drive handling of its generation – the Focus RS Mk1 hot hatch offers massive raw driving appeal in these days of technological mollycoddling in even the most potent performance machines. Despite courting controversy with its predilection to torque steer, a good proportion of the 4501 built still survive; one of them can be yours for about £7000. Want low mileage and decent condition? Put aside nearer £10k.
Ford RS200 (1984-1986)
A mid-engined rally monster, homologated for the road, the RS200 went down in history after only one year in competition before its bonkers Group B class was given the chop. With its unique Ghia styling it looked like nothing else on the rally stages – or even like any other Ford – and its Cosworth turbo pumped out 250bhp in the road cars and a frankly alarming 600bhp-plus in the Evolution models. The prices it’s fetching now are equally hair-raising: budget at least a cool quarter of a million.
Ford Fiesta RS1800 (1992-1997)
The bargain of our line-up, the 130bhp 1.8-litre Zetec-engined
Fiesta RS1800 blasted onto the scene in the early nineties. It superseded the laggy Fiesta RS Turbo, and with a 8.1sec 0-60mph sprint, lairy bodykit, Recaro seats and tweaked suspension, it gave boy racers plenty to get hot and bothered about. As a result, not many of the few thousand manufactured actually survived their early years; you should get change from £5000, but only if you can find one to buy in the first place…
Ford Escort RS1600 (1970-1974)
The original British RS-badged Ford (Germany’s 20M RS came first), the motorsport-developed Escort RS1600 pumped out 120bhp in the road cars and north of 200bhp in competition specials. All examples were built – and fully seam-welded for strength – by Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Operations, and all ran Cosworth’s legendary BDA twin-cam engine. Don’t confuse it with the simpler and cheaper RS2000, especially when shopping for one of these highly sought-after classics; when you’re facing coughing up £50,000-plus for a three-door Mk1 Escort, you want to ensure it’s the real deal.
The best Ford RS classics: A buyer?s guide | Motoring | Lifestyle | The Independent