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Ford Sierra Cosworth

Published: 17th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Ford Sierra Cosworth
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Fancy owning a motorsport legend for road and track use? Paul Davies looks at true classics that made their names on stages and circuits, and still provide fine drives today

After you’ve ruled the world, what next? That was Ford’s dilemma. Escort Mk1 and Mk2 had been all-time rally and race winners, but the front-wheel drive replacement was a dead duck, the purpose-built RS 1700T was canned, and the RS200 supercar – like the rest of Group B – was banned. The answer was the Sierra Cosworth. On paper the dumpy Cortina replacement of 1982 was too big for strutting its stuff on stages, but a bit of diplomacy by director of motorsport Stuart Turner had Cosworth pumping an (easy) 200bhp out of the US-derived Ford Pinto engine. Slotted into the rear drive saloon, the now iconic YB motor was good for a whisker under 150mph and a 0-60mph dash just over six seconds in ‘standard’ trim. More importantly, it was easily tuneable right to the 300bhp limit demanded of the new Group A, introduced to tame the excesses of Group B. The secret was not in the twin-cam, 16-valve, cylinder head, but the turbocharger. With larger compressor, change of wastegate, bigger injectors and an intercooler, the only power restriction was how much the block could take. Double the original output was easy, with more to come! The road ‘Cossie’ first appeared in 1986, and Ford produced an RS500 homologation special aimed at the inaugural ’87 World Touring Car Series. After a shaky start it dominated, such that there never was an ’88 WTC – although there is a suggestion it was the possibility of manufacturers and sponsors moving from Formula One that really killed off the series. The Sierra, in three-door hatch and four-door Sapphire trim, was ideal for racing. Andy Rouse claimed the British Touring Car title in 1985 with a prototype (actually a turbo’d Mercury Merkur) and Robb Gravett followed in 1990, whilst in Germany the Eggenberger team took the DTM series by storm. In rallying it had its limitations, despite the fact that few stuck to that 300bhp Group A limit. Yes, Jim McRae was British champion in both ’87 and ’88 and Russell Brookes followed in ’89, but on the world stage the Cossie had strong competition. Didier Auriol’s victory on the 1988 Tour de Corse, Ari Vatanen’s second on the ’87 1000 Lakes, and McRae’s 3rd on the RAC Rally of the same year, were highlights of the Cosworth’s WRC career. It had to give way to the Lancia Delta Integrale and the Toyota Celica GT.Both Lancia and Toyota had four wheel drive. Ford added this to the Sierra Cosworth from 1990, but it didn’t help – especially as at the time the blue oval didn’t know whether it really wanted to be in motorsport anymore. The Sierra Cosworth’s final call was the 1992 Lombard RAC, Miki Biasion taking fifth place, but most rally fans remember Colin McRae two years earlier. With the factory cars foundering it was left to the private entry of the young Scot to fly the flag. He knocked every corner of the RED run, Shell sponsored, car, set three fastest stage times, and finished in sixth place with only a bolt from a garden gate holding the driver’s door in place!

Ford Sierra Cosworth Summary


Two-wheel drive, (1986-89) 18,500; Four-wheel drive (1990-92) 12,000


Engine: four-cylinder cast iron block with alloy head, four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts with belt drive. Garrett T3 turbo with Weber-Marelli injection. 1993cc.
Power: 204/220bhp (race tuned engines to 500bhp).
Gearbox: five-speed Borg Warner (seven-speed on some rally cars).
Drive: Rear wheels/ four wheel drive.
Suspension: Front Macpherson struts. with coil springs; Rear independent with trailing arms and coil springs.
Brakes: Discs, front and rear.
Steering: Rack and pinion.

Claim to fame

Mighty on the race tracks in UK and Europe, effective rally car at national level. Two BTCC, three British Open Rally titles. Everyone’s favourite street machine of the late ‘80’s!

Famous names

Jim McRae, Russell Brookes, Mark Lovell, Bertie Fisher, Colin McRae, Stig Blomquist, Kalle Grundel, Carlos Sainz, Miki Biasion, Didier Auriol, Ari Vatanen, Malcolm Wilson, Mohammed Bin Sulayem, Saeed Al Hajri, Phil Collins (not that one!), Louise Aitken- Walker, Andy Rouse, Robb Gravett, Tim Harvey, Win Percy, Armin Hahne, Klaus Niedweidze.

Where to buy

Owners clubs and specialist web sites like Pistonheads, also performance car magazines – and Classic Cars For Sale of course.

What to look for

Bodywork stands the test of time well, but plastic add-ons can sag. Check mechanicals carefully – but although many cars will have been caned, engine and transmission can stand it. Smokey exhaust can mean worn valve guides or failing turbo bearings. Beware of imitations – it’s easy to make a Cossie look-alike from a bog standard Sierra – check serial numbers with owners clubs.

What to pay

We’ve seen the genuine article as low as £5000, but £7,500-10,000 is a better price for a good example. RS500’s are rare and command a premium – reckon on £15,000-25,000.


RS Owners Club:; Sierra Club:; Independent:

Classic sport

Not yet an historic, but still a force to be reckoned with in club racing and rallying. Sierra Cossie must also be one of the ultimates for trackdays! For extra power check Burton Power (, PJ Motorsport ( and Graham Goode Racing (

Competitive Rating: 9

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