Following the demise of Group B in WRC, all of the auto manufacturers began directing their attention and efforts towards the new top level of the sport – Group A. At its inception, the Group A cars soon surpassed the much more powerful Group B cars thanks to improved handling, traction and safety. When the class was originally created, manufacturers were required to build 5,000 “street versions” for homologation purposes. In 1992, that number was changed to 2,500 units. That was the year that the engineers and designers at Ford released the Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
The talks of creating a new car actually began secretly during after-hours meetings in 1988. As crazy as it might seem, the original thought was to take the platform and running gear from the Sierra Cosworth 4×4, shorten it and bolt the body of the Escort to it. Surprisingly, it actually made enough sense to try!
The Ford Special Vehicle Engineers were charged with the task of making this car a reality. They were able to get their hands on the engine and all-wheel-drive transmission for the Sierra 4×4 that still had yet to be put into production. The engine fitted in the new car was a turbocharged 2.0 liter Cosworth YTB engine that put out an adequate 224 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque. Mated to that engine was a five-speed all-wheel-drive gearbox that sent 66% of the power to the rear wheels and 34% to the front. The original 2,500 “homologation special” cars featured a larger turbo and an engine management system from Magnetti Marelli. The remaining 4600 cars were tuned by Ford and used a smaller turbo that was said to make the car easier to drive.
To make it look the way it does, the car spent two-hundred hours in a German wind tunnel until the body had been sculpted to provide the best downforce and cooling possible. In fact, the Escort RS Cosworth was the first mass-produced car to provide front and rear downforce thanks to that massive “whale tail” wing and an adjustable splitter up front. Once the final shape was decided on, the toolings were fabricated by German-based company, Karmann.
In total, Ford only built 7145 units throughout the four years that they were in production. Of those seven thousand cars produced, a large number of them were converted to different types of race cars, most of which were used in rally and rallycross. An unknown amount also found their way into the United States. This is one of those elusive cars!
These days, you’d be hard pressed to find an RS Cosworth that hasn’t been modified. The engines are highly tuneable and companies have been able to coax a massive amount of power from a few of them. There is one kicking around the internet that is pushing out an unreal 1000 horsepower!
Thanks to rally school DirtFish for the words and photography