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1986 Ford RS200
Manufacturer: Matchbox
Release dates: 1987 - 1988 (?) 
Catalog number: 34
Date Purchased: Late 2007
Date Completed: August 2009
Number in collection: 18

The RS200 was manufactured by Ford from 1984 to 1986. Although intended as a race car, 200 road legal copies had to be made in order to satisfy the requirements of the Group B rally class. It featured a fiberglass body, all-wheel drive, and a mid-mounted, 1.8 L turbocharged engine good for up to 450 horsepower. It was intended to compete with similar rally cars from other manufacturers. Unfortunately for Ford, the Group B class was eliminated after one season, rendering the RS200 obsolete. Due to its very limited production, plus that it was never certified for US sale, make seeing the actual car here extremely unlikely.

Matchbox made a nice replica of the RS200 not long after production the actual car ended. It was issued in a few different color schemes. I didn't know it existed until I found it, along with other cars, in several collector cases that I recovered while cleaning out a storage unit in 2007. The original paint and markings were very chipped and worn, but the casting and rest of the car were in good shape. It also has a metal base plate, instead of plastic. A steel strip attaches to the inside of this base which gives a slight spring effect to the axles, simulating suspension.

I originally worked on this car long before I started photographing them. The 'before' pictures are not of my car, but ones I found on-line a car that was as 'used' as I recall mine being. The 'after' pictures were of my car, but taken while I was originally writing this page.

Click to zoom Click to zoom
How it looked when new. Actual car I used for reference.

Pictures of car before any changes were made (click to enlarge)

Disassembly was done by drilling out a single body-to-chassis rivet at the front of the car. The rear of the base has a tab cast into it, which fits into a hole in the body. The parts breakdown is as follows:
  • A black painted, die-cast metal chassis, with basic drive train detailing cast into it.
  • Two separate wheel/tire/axle assemblies, which are held in place to the chassis by a metal strip. This strip presses onto a post cast into the chassis, and gives a slight spring effect to the axles, simulating suspension. I didn't remove the strip, as I didn't want to risk damaging either piece. The tires have unrealistic tread detail, and the wheels have a design that doesn't match any pictures that I have of the actual car.
  • A black plastic one piece interior with the dash and steering wheel moulded to one half, the seats, dash, console, and engine detail moulded to the other half, hinged at the front of the whole part. There are no interior door panels.
  • A single piece clear window assembly. that attaches to the inside of the body. It has a slight amber tint to it, but this may be a result of aging and exposure to the elements.
  • The die-cast body, painted blue with tampo-printed markings.

After disassembling the car, I stripped the body with a chemical stripping gel. After a thorough washing, I removed seams from the casting with files and sandpaper before applying primer and paint. The remainder of this project was fairly easy. I used pictures that I found of the actual car to help with detailing the body and interior.

The following is a summary of the changes I made:
  • Wheels and tires: Sanded the tread surface with 220 grit sandpaper to simulate wear. Wheel rims are painted Tamiya aluminum.
  • Chassis: Painted entire piece Testors acrylic flat black. Suspension and drive train details are highlighted with Tamiya semi-gloss black and aluminum.
  • Interior: I painted the seats, carpet, and dashboard a mixture of Testors acrylic flat black and flat white to get a medium gray. A lighter shade of the same color was used for the seat inserts. engine and compartment details are Testors red, flat white, Tamiya aluminum, metallic gray, and semi-gloss black. Remaining interior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Windows: Detailed windshield wipers and rear view mirror with Testors flat black.
  • Body: Stripped entire casting with gel-type paint stripper, and sanded mold lines. Primed body with Rustoleum gray primer, then painted with one coat of Krylon blue. The underside of the body is painted a light gray mixture in the interior area, and Tamiya acrylic flat black everywhere else. Applied Bare-Metal foil to head lights and tail lights. I then drew body panel lines in with a metal tipped 'quill' pen and black ink. Window frames and the various grille and vent openings are Testors acrylic flat black. Painted tail lights, front turn signals, and fender mounted signal repeaters with Tamiya clear red, clear orange, and Testors white. Remaining exterior details were painted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
Disassembled parts, before reassembly To the left is the car prior to re-assembly.

Assembly was completed by pressing the parts together, filling the old rivets hole with epoxy putty, and touching up the filled holes with paint to match the chassis plate.

Pictures of completed car (click to enlarge)

The proportions of the completed car look very close to the actual car. The table below shows how close they are.

Actual car 
(mm / in)
(mm / in)
Dimensions of actual car based on model scale
(mm / in)
Calculated scale based on model to actual car
Length 4001 / 157.5 72 / 2.85 3960 / 156.6 1:55
Wheelbase 2530 / 99.6 43 / 1.77 2365 / 97.5 1:56
Width 1763 / 69.4 28 / 1.32 1540 / 72.4 1:53
Height 1321 / 52.0 26 / 1.03 1430 / 56.4 1:51

Although 1:55 is the scale specified on the base plate, it doesn't seem that accurate. Length is OK, wheelbase is close enough, but width and height are way off. I can't explain the width difference, but the height variance might be due to the tires Matchbox chose for this car. They look more at home on one of their truck or off-road vehicles.

Scale problems aside, I'm otherwise happy with this car. It was the first car I repainted and rebuilt after about a five year absence from the hobby. Comparing it to the level of work I've been doing recently, I've noticed that the paint finish could use improvement. First, some of the paint was flaking off as I handled it. I don't know if this is because of the primer I originally used, or that the metal is causing the paint to lift. It was easily touched up this time, but I have concerns about how the paint will hold up in the future. Also, the paint finish seems to be rather dull. I can't remember if I used a clear gloss coat. If I did, it doesn't seem to help much. It's still a pretty good replica of a car I'll probably never see in person.

Liked what you saw? More cars can be found HERE .

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