Tuesday July 12, 2016
Arguably one of the most iconic cars of the 1980’s, this month’s choice has to be to the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. And WHAT a car!
And you can forget all about the later model Sapphire Cosworth, I’m talking about the fire breathing savagery that came from the original 3 Door, whale tail, ‘Cossie’.
The concept for the Cosworth began in 1983 with Ford Motorsport division, who were tasked with building a car capable of conquering all in ‘Group A’ racing. The engineers were faced with many challenges along the way, one of the most difficult being to find a gearbox capable of handling the high revving torque created by the Cosworth YBD power plant.
After appearing at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show, the finished article finally hit British roads in July 1986 and it did not disappoint, kicking out 204bhp from its 2 litre engine. It could hit 60mph in 6.5 seconds and go on to blistering 149mph, which meant it could holds its own against the likes of the Porsche 911 Carrera and even make some inroads into Ferrari territory. Not bad for a car that cost just £16,200 when new, significantly less than the equivalent BMW or Mercedes.
Not content with this, Ford gave the Cosworth to Aston Martin’s tuning division Tickford who came up with the limited edition RS500. Originally planned to all be black in colour, 56 were painted White & 52 in Moonstone Blue, with the remaining 392 in Black. There were subtle differences in the RS500 including a larger ‘Garrett’ turbo that produced 224bhp.
In Motorsport the Cosworth dominated, winning Touring Car Championships in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and at World level. Ford even tried their hand at rallying with mixed success, mostly because the car was 2wd and struggled on loose surfaces. Once it was on tarmac it was a different matter, and the Cossie proved more than capable of competing at the highest level, even winning the 1988 Rally of Corsica.
In 1988 Ford released the successor to the 3dr Cosworth, the Sapphire Cosworth, which was equally popular in its day, although not as iconic as the original model. Ford only produced 1,652 Whale Tail Cossies and it could be argued that they should have made more but I’m of the view that if something is that good it should always leave you wanting. With the Cosworth Sierra Ford certainly did that.
Since then Ford have given us the bonkers ‘Escort RS Cosworth’ and numerous Focus RS models but none of them come close to this wild animal of the road.
There were a few downsides to owning a Cossie. First it had a reputation as being a bit of a boy racer car, for those who preferred something more understated than a 205 GTI with a ‘Dimma’ kit or a Renault 5 GT Turbo, and you’d be frowned upon by certain sections of the community.
Secondly, the Cosworth was dubbed ‘Britains most stolen car’ which meant that to insure one you’d need a second mortgage. It may also explain why there are now only 600 registered on the road - and even less Sapphire models.
Thankfully times have changed. In 1992 Quentin Wilson carried out a review on ‘Top Gear’ of these hidden gems and made reference to being able to pick up a 3dr model for £8-9k due to their desirability. There is, however, a new breed of classic car enthusiasts and, as a result, today’s prices are in the region of £50,000 and if you fancy one of the five hundred RS500’s you’ll need to break open the piggy bank to the tune of £80,000 +!
Only now do we really appreciate the enormity of the impact this fabled car has had on our industry. Like the Mini in the 50’s, the E-Type in the 60’s and the Golf GTi in the 70’s, the RS Cosworth defined a generation and has played a big part in the classic car industry we see today.