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Ford Sierra RS Cosworth & Sapphire: Buying guide and review (1985-1992)

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth & Sapphire: Buying guide and review (1985-1992) Classic and Performance Car
Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
Never mind the Audi quattro; for anyone born east of Bow Bells it’s the Ford Sierra Cosworth, or ‘Cossie’, that defined the 1980s, often finished in a white as brilliant as the socks of the youths who lusted after them. Now those youths have grown up, prices have matured alongside them and the best ones are worth as much as – or more than – contemporary Ferraris. 
 
The Sierra RS Cosworth resulted from a chance conversation about Ford’s poor results in touring car racing. In 1983, motor sport boss Stuart Turner suggested mating an experimental Cosworth 16-valve engine with a turbocharger and inserting it in a three-door Sierra shell. The road-going Sierra RS Cosworth debuted in 1985. 
 
Wind tunnel tests resulted in the car’s signature whale-tail spoiler, which made the car stable at racing speeds, although laggy power delivery and a simple chassis gave tail-happy cornering. 
 
The Cosworth’s real USP was under the skin. The YB-series engine was truly a de-tuned racing unit and gave the Sierra near-supercar performance, with the scope for much more after further tuning, which a great many owners (usually second, third or fourth owners) have since indulged in. 
 

Which Sierra Cosworth to buy?

 
Original three-door Cosworths are seriously collectible today, and finding a good condition car is surprisingly difficult. For many people, the high prices are worth it, but the days of running one as a cheap track day toy are long gone. 
 
The original Cosworth evolved further into the RS500, built to homologate a bigger turbo and keep the racing version ahead of rivals. These are by far the most desirable and expensive models, but unless you are a serious collector a standard car is just as much fun. They are easy to spot, with larger wheels, huge Garrett T04 turbocharger, bigger intercooler, a secondary fuel rail and injectors, new induction set-up as well as an extra little spoiler on the lip of the tailgate. 
 
In 1988, the Sierra Cosworth got the Sapphire treatment, meaning more subtle-looking four-door styling, and in its final iteration gaining four-wheel drive. While still not cheap, it’s the Sapphire Cosworth that represents the best value today. Many later 4x4 models have since been converted back to rear-wheel drive spec, which is worth k
 
Finding an unmolested car is a serious challenge and, because of some dubious rustproofing, finding one in sound condition is harder still. But it’s worth it, especially for the three-door models.
 
Primitive security measures and a rampant market in secondhand spares meant a great many were stolen and broken up, which still occasionally happens. This thinning of the flock, combined with the rear-wheel-drive Sapphire’s drop in value through the 1990s that left many thrashed or crashed, has meant the three-doors and RWD Sapphires are now scarce. 
 

Performance and specs


Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
Engine  1993cc inline four
Power 201bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 204lb ft @ 4500rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual
0-62mph 6.2secs
Top speed 143mph
Insurance group   20
Fuel consumption  20.3mpg
Price when new  £15,950
 

Dimensions and weight


Wheelbase              2608mm
Length 4425mm
Width 1725mm
Height 1420mm
Weight 1220kg
 

Common problems

 
• The greatest rust concerns are reserved for the three-doors. They rot badly around the front suspension turrets, meaning the top of the strut can eventually fall inwards. They’ll also rust where the inner wing meets the bulkhead. That’s even more serious, as the front of the car collapses. Look for a narrowing of the gap between the door and the front wing to spot it early. 
 
• Sills and floors need inspection on both models, as do the rear chassis legs near the spring seats. The Sapphire avoids the front-end rot, but the rear wheelarch area is notoriously rust-prone. 
 
• As with everything that bolts on, be sure the running gear is to original specification. Many cars have been lowered, which together with wheels larger than the standard 7.0J 15in alloys can harm an already firm ride. In 4x4 models, lowering accelerates CV joint wear – listen for a clicking as you turn on full lock. 
 
• Gearboxes with worn synchromesh on second and third can be a bargaining point. All rear-drive versions used a viscous coupling LSD, which can be repacked if you’re getting lots of wheelspin on your test drive. 
 
• A later engine in an early car is a good thing if you’re not after an investment-grade original, because all rear-wheel-drive cars used a head design that led to water leaks from failed head gaskets. That’s around £650+VAT to correct with a skim and pressure test, so look on the exhaust side of the block for drips. 
 
• Engines got steadily better: find the number on the head next to the exhaust cam pulley. They started near zero, rising beyond 13,000 in the rear-drive Sapphires. Any three-door showing a number in the hundreds needs extra caution. 
 
• Many rear-drive cars suffer piston slap: a growling sound from the engine on cold start-up. It shouldn’t be there if revved when warm. 
 
• Check the turbo by removing the front hose and prodding the impeller,’ says Karl. ‘Any front-to-rear movement means it hasn’t got long left.
 
• Modifications are a minefield; avoid anything without printed history from a specialist. But as long as the T03 turbo and factory intercooler remain, other ‘upgrades’ won’t overstress the engine and the car can almost be considered standard. 
 
• Two electrical issues need attention: fuel pump wiring was marginal and the voltage drop between battery and fuel tank can leave the mixture dangerously lean at full boost. See if it’s been rewired. 
 
• Older alarms and immobilisers are often a nightmare, and most Cosworths will have one. Be doubly sure everything works as it should, consistently. 
 

Model history

 
March 1985: Original Sierra Cosworth shown at the Geneva motor show.
July 1986: First cars go on sale.
July 1987: Ford announces the RS500 model, with 500 Cosworths being sent to Tickford for conversion to RS500 spec.
1988: Ford introduces the Sapphire Cosworth in rear-wheel drive form.
January 1990: 4x4 system and other updates added to the Sapphire Cosworth, primarily to ready the car for an assault on the WRC.
1992: Production of the Sierra Cosworth ends, with the Escort Cosworth ready to take up the reigns.
 

Owners’ clubs, forums and websites

 
• rsownersclub.co.uk – The Ford RS Owners Club
• sapphirerscosworth.com – Sapphire Cosworth forum
• burtonpower.com – Parts and tuning products for Fords
• passionford.com – Ford enthusiast forum
 

Summary and prices

 
Well-preserved three-door Cosworths have been in collector territory for the last ten years or so, with the most original and low-mileage cars commanding serious money today. Some sellers ask in excess of £50k for the best, but you can still pick up good original cars from around £35k. Even £25k will still get you something usable, if a little high-mileage or with non-matching numbers. Projects can still be found from around £7000 – often little more than a rolling shell – while a running car needing some work could be had for about £17,000. 
 
The RS500 homologation special cars have always attracted a premium over the standard three-door cars. Ensuring that a car is genuine should be your first port of call, and this is something that the RS Owners Club should be able to help with. Top condition cars start at £50,000, but can be upwards of £75k for the best. 
 
That makes the Sapphire Cosworths excellent value. While the prices have moved, the more sedate looks and relatively healthy numbers of the saloons means that are still the most affordable way into Cosworth ownership. Clean examples command upwards of £13k, but there are many usable cars for less than £10,000. Buying a Sapphire is a case of figuring out if you are happy with any modifications – of which there are usually many – and whether or not you want rear or four-wheel drive.
Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
Last updated: 21st Jun 2017
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Ford Sierra
6550 39995 GBP
  • FORD SIERRA XR4i 1983 Manual Petrol

    £6,550 £6,550

    1983/4 XR4i presented in white and only 130000 miles from new. A good looking car in the colour needing some remedial works to the body and obviously well looked after, a substantial history file including MOT certs from 1988 and rebuilt engine at 66000. Superb un-molested interior, other than cracks to the dash top. The car is fitted with PAS, Central Locking, Electric windows and Sunroof.

    For sale
    £6,550 £6,550
    Villiers Classics Limited
    07376 364863 View contact number
  • Ford Sierra

    £12,000 £12,000

    A True Classic, 100% original, 1989/90 Ford Sierra 2.9i GLS 4x4 fitted out in Red with a light fabric interior. A Genuine Norfolk Vehicle, 3 owners from new. The Car has been SORN and garaged for the last 15 years. The vehicle has recently had new rear brake calipers, full exhaust and new battery. It has a FULL MOT. The car has done a genuine mileage of 68k, fitted with the Cologne 2.9i V6 engine, power is not a problem. Owned by the current owner since 1992. The vehicle is as factory standard build, no modification at all, fitted with electric front windows, sunroof front and rear fog, PAS, original Radio still working. Interior - All original, very clean and tidy, no wear tears, interior very light grey in colour shows some stains in line with age of vehicle. Bodywork - All original, the vehicle has never been in an accident or had any body panels replaced, no welding filling or respray has been carried out on any body panel - totally original. As can be seen from the photos, the vehicle is rush free, more photos can be sent at request. As can be seen this is 100% original vehicle. Vehicle would benefit from a total wax to bring the paint back to a bright shine. We reserve the right to advertise this vehicle elsewhere. Sale of Vehicle due to requirement for garage space to restore vintage tractor.

    • Year: 1989
    • Mileage: 68744 mi
    • Engine size: 2.9
    For sale
    £12,000 £12,000
    Matthew Mears
    Matthew Mears
  • FORD SIERRA RS COSWORTH 1987

    £39,995 £39,995

    We are excited to offer this True Performance Ford Sierra RS Cosworth in Black, Registered in 1987 with 5 Previous Owners, As you can see from the pictures the current owner of 12 years has kept this 3 Door Cossy in Fantastic Condition, always being garaged and driven in the summer months on fine days for pleasure only! As most RS Cosworths it has been Mildly Modified with Mongoose Exhaust system, Goup A Coil, 4x4 Inter-cooler, T3 Hybrid Turbo with 3 Bar Map Sensor, Up-Rated head gasket and head bolts, Green Injectors and Re-Mapped by Norris Motor Sport (NMW) in Derbyshire and is running approximately 330 BHP at 25 PSI. Koni Suspension with Black Diamond Discs and Pads all round, The Wheels was Re-Furbished 5 Years ago and are still in Excellent Condition! Also NMW Recently has Carried out a Full Service, replaced the clutch with a New Helix Organic Clutch and replaced the Cambelt and Water Pump less than 500 Miles ago! The car starts first turn of the key, does not smoke or leak any oil and Drives Brilliantly! ;Performance Fords have increased in price of the last 10 years and they will no doubt to continue to rise over the next 10 as they become even more collectable! ;We are Happy to put a fresh 12 Months MOT on for the new Owner, HPI CLEAR and has Clifford Alarm Fitted. Comes with Portfolio of Previous Invoices and MOT Certificates, Spare Key, Spare alarm Fob and Custom car cover.;;PLEASE NOTE - We are selling This Car for a Customer and the car is kept off site so VIEWING IS STRICTLY BY APPOINTMENT ONLY! Genuine Inquiries Only Please. For More Details or To Arrange A Viewing Please Call.;;CHESTERFIELD MOTOR SALES is a friendly, family run independent car dealership, we pride ourselves on only selling only the best quality of stock and we provide a full range of facilities such as finance packages tailored for the individual, nationwide delivery and we supply national warranty packages that range from 3-36 months!;We take credit/debit card payments, offer drive away insurance and ALL our cars are HPI checked and clear!;You can even take advantage of our hassle Free Part exchange Service.... We are confident in what we do and ANY inspection is welcome, potential buyers can view the car of their choice in our indoor showroom and we are certain you won't be disappointed!;For more information on this car or to arrange a test drive don't hesitate to call.;FOR OUT OF HOURS CONTACT CALL OR TEXT TIM - 07807011998 or ANDY - 07761905363.;Please Note viewing is by appointment only.

    • Mileage: 89500 mi
    • Engine size: 1.993
    For sale
    £39,995 £39,995
  • Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 1987. First time on the U.K. market since new!

    £35,995 £35,995

    Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 1987. First time on the U.K. market since new! Absolutely stunning example which has been recently imported from New Zealand where they drive on the left hand side of the road. The car is in remarkably good condition underneath having resided in a temperate climate and there is no evidence of the underside of the car been welded, unlike most Cosworth Sierras with have seen over the years. Totally stripped and painted in July 2017 and gleaming in every area and the wheels are in pristine condition also. Superb original interior with everything you would want from a standard specification vehicle of this calibre. There are not many of these around in such good condition. Fully serviced and MOT’d.

    • Year: 1987
    For sale
    £35,995 £35,995
  • Ford Sierra Thunder Saloon '85

    €19,950(£0) €19,950(£0)

    Lowered price from €29.950 -> €19.950 >>>>> Oldtimerfarm specializes in consignment sales of vintage and collection cars and we are proud to present you this car. Oldtimerfarm is located in Belgium, 9880 Aalter, Steenweg op Deinze 51C, where this car is in our showroom. We are open from Tuesday to Saturday 10-17h (also without appointment). We are closed on Sundays and Mondays. Mondays on appointment only. Make sure you scroll down to look at the extensive photo report (100 pictures). Of course, a more detailed description can be obtained by telephone. Contact us: Xavier: 0032 472 40 1338 (NL, FR, DE, EN, IT) info@oldtimerfarm.be Olivier: 0032 473 11 7300 (NL, FR, DE, EN) olivier@oldtimerfarm.be Oldtimerfarm from Aalter would also like to sell your classic car or car collection. For more information, please contact Xavier. Exhibitions where you can find us: Pictures of the car:

    • Year: 1985
    • Mileage: 26730 mi
    For sale
    €19,950(£0) €19,950(£0)
  • Ford Sierra 1.8LX

    POA POA

    An exceptional Ford Sierra 1.8LX finished in Radiant Red. The previous owners have obviously cherished this car from day one as it really is in top condition. The paintwork has a really deep lustre, and all the black plastic trim, bumpers, mirrors etc. is in good order. Inside the seats are just about as good as they were when it left the factory, and all original apart from the radio which has been upgraded to a CD/radio. Power steering was ordered as an option on this Sierra which is quite a rare but a very welcome addition. The factory fitted sliding/tilting glass sunroof is in good working order. £2795 An exceptional Ford Sierra 1.8LX finished in Radiant Red. The previous owners have obviously cherished this car from day one as it really is in top condition. The paintwork has a really deep lustre, and all the black plastic trim, bumpers, mirrors etc. is in good order. Inside the seats are just about as good as they were when it left the factory, and all original apart from the radio which has been upgraded to a CD/radio. Power steering was ordered as an option on this Sierra which is quite a rare but a very welcome addition. The factory fitted sliding/tilting glass sunroof is i

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
    POA POA
  • Ford Sierra 2.0

    POA POA

    The Ford Sierra 2000E was the best model available from 1989 in terms of interior specification (apart from the Sierra RS Cosworth). The leather upholstery in this example is in exceptional condition having been carefully treated with Connolly hide food over the last few years. She drives beautifully, the 2.0 DOHC engine has been well maintained and the 5 speed gearbox changes up and down smoothly. The last owner had this Sierra Sapphire for over 18 years and kept all the bills and receipts for servicing etc. The bodywork is in fine condition and has not been welded in the usual places, and the two tone grey metallic paintwork has only one or two minor blemishes. £4750 The Ford Sierra 2000E was the best model available from 1989 in terms of interior specification (apart from the Sierra RS Cosworth). The leather upholstery in this example is in exceptional condition having been carefully treated with Connolly hide food over the last few years. She drives beautifully, the 2.0 DOHC engine has been well maintained and the 5 speed gearbox changes up and down smoothly. The last owner had this Sierra Sapphire for over 18 years and kept all the bills and receipts for servicing etc. The bod

    • Year: 1989
    For sale
    POA POA