When Ford took a hiatus on the finish of the 1979 World Rally Championship season to deal with the incoming Group B period, the automobile on the drafting board wasn’t the RS200.
The Group B rulebook for 1982 had only a few specificities and principally targeted on safety-critical elements and minimal weight. This resulted in a wide range of engine sorts, engine placements and drivetrain configurations, as designers had free rein to create essentially the most excessive vehicles ever seen on a rally particular stage.
So if not the RS200, simply what was Ford engaged on? The RS1700T – their short-lived first try at a Group B candidate.
Having first seen this automobile at Rallyday a number of years in the past, I wasn’t going to let a second alternative to take a better look go to waste whereas at Race Retro 2023.
At preliminary look, the RS1700T resembles the extra sedate road-going Mk3 Escort. However look once more and also you’ll begin to discover the broader arches, cutouts within the entrance bumper, and gearbox and differential coolers mounted above the boot lid.
Price range constraints meant the event prices have been saved to a minimal, with the bulk of funds dedicated to the bespoke underpinnings. This allowed the usually horizontally-opposed engine and front-wheel drive hatchback to have its engine rotated 90-degrees and powering the rear wheels.
Throughout the event, two engine choices have been thought of: Turbocharging the 1,778cc Ford BDA (to grow to be the BDT), or utilizing a naturally aspirated 2,300cc Components 2 mill from Hart Racing Engines, with the previous being most well-liked by the drivers. The BDT engine made 350 horsepower, which when coupled with a 970kg (2,138lb) weight resulted in ample efficiency.
The RS1700T’s inside was rudimentary at greatest. Important gauges have been positioned in view of the motive force and all different switchgear was merely tacked onto the sprint wherever house allowed.
All of it appeared promising, however by the point the RS1700T was able to assault the rally phases, the Audi Quattro had nicely and really present simply how dominant four-wheel drive could possibly be. Due to this, the RS1700T’s growth was halted and Ford went again to the drafting board.
As a whole lot of the onerous work had been achieved when it comes to engine and chassis growth, the RS200 that adopted went from inception to completion in a really quick house of time. Not quick sufficient although, with the tip of the Group B period coming earlier than the Ford might show its price.
The vast majority of RS1700Ts have been destroyed, however after the automobile’s undertaking supervisor emigrated to South Africa a number of of the remaining examples ended up competing there, the place homologation guidelines didn’t apply.
Sadly, teething issues meant extra retirements than podiums and finally the RS1700T solely ever claimed one victory: the Nissan Worldwide Rally in 1985.
The RS1700T was pivotal in Ford’s motorsport historical past and laid the trail for future rallying efforts, however seldom did this instance have a crowd round it at Race Retro. It confirmed simply how unknown it’s.
Whereas the RS1700T not have been victorious on the rally stage, success can probably be measured by the accolades and achievements of subsequent Ford rally vehicles.