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

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth: 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 roadgoing 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. 
 
Which one 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 models, but unless you are a serious collector a standard car is just as much fun.  
 
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 not cheap, it’s the Sapphire Cosworth that represents the best value.  
 
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
 
Engine 1993cc inline four
Power 201bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 204lb ft @ 4500rpm
Top speed 143mph
0-60mph 6.2secs
Fuel consumption approx 25mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2608mm
Length 4425mm
Width 1725mm
Height 1420mm
Kerb 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.
 
Summary and prices
 
RS500s are firmly in collector territory, and well-preserved three-doors look set to follow them into the climate-controlled garage. Pay £30k for an original three-door in good condition, and £20k for a car that is perhaps not perfect, but a lot of fun. Projects start from around £7000, and a running driving car needing some work could be had for about £15,000. RS500s are a step up from this, with good cars commanding £50k and more. 
 
That makes the Sapphires (especially the 4x4) excellent value, offering every chance of appreciation with subtler looks. Clean examples command upwards of £15k, but there are many usable cars for less than £10,000. 
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: 10th Aug 2016
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Ford Sierra cars for sale

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Ford Sierra
1200 31995 GBP
  • Ford Sierra

    £31,995 £31,995

    FOR SALE A preserved collectors Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth with just 36,158 miles. EQUIPMENT Bodyside mouldings with grey insert, polycarbonate bumpers, integral front air dam, colour coded door mirrors, heated front windscreen, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, tinted glass, bonnet cooling vents, homofocal headlights, headlamp wash/wipe, rear window aerial, colour coded rear spoiler, extended centre console, quartz digital clock, fascia light dimmer, leather gearknob and three spoke sports steering wheel, graphic information module, map reading lamps, fascia light dimmer, tilt and slide sunroof, central locking, front and rear electric windows, integral rear headrests. Dealer fitted accessory; Ford front window wind deflectors. EXTERIOR The commanding exterior of this early RS Sapphire Cosworth is finished in original and desirable Ford Moonstone Blue (code 5 9). The factory paintwork is exceptional and boasts a bright shine and polished uniform finish. All factory panels are straight with linear gaps with only minor blemishes visible and a small rub to the nearside sill skirt and driver’s door. The underside is clean and totally original, even down to the factory markings on underside components and lower suspension arms. All exterior trim is perfect and early features such as Anthracite fog lamps surrounds denote an early 2WD example. The correct Satin Black aerodynamic strakes to the C-Pillar are unmarked. The glass displays the original number and dots dated Securit etchings, and the original Carello headlamps remain fitted with other lenses showing Ford logo and ‘England’ lettering. Supplying dealer rear screen sticker has been retained, as have the dealer optional genuine window air deflectors with Ford branding. Arguably one of the best unrestored examples in existence. INTERIOR The factory standard interior of this truly special example is trimmed in the original Halley and Angora grey velour, (Code L). This trim arrangement being another denotation of the early 2WD production Sapphire Cosworths, with added rarity being available only prior to the introduction of Shadow Halley/Raven velour and optional Raven Leather in February 1989. The supportive Recaro front seats are flawless with firm bolsters and tight coverings, commensurate with the low mileage. The instantly familiar driver inclined dashboard is perfect and completely free from any cracks, and the three spoke leather trimmed sports steering wheel and leather gear knob show natural veins only seen on genuine low mileage examples. Incredibly, the original Ford steering wheel cover fitted upon PDI and usually discarded has been kept! All functions and controls operate flawlessly including the standard Sound 2007 Stereo system with power amplifier. A fantastic RS interior, the ultimate combination of sporting prowess and spacious executive luxury. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION Fitted with the standard 1993cc Dual Over Head Cam (DOHC) engine with the Garrett AiResearch T.03B turbocharger and intercooler, the racing pedigree of this car is truly evident with performance figures quoted of 204bhp, 150mph top speed and 0-60 in just 6.1 seconds. The engine bay will fascinate originality seekers with factory panel stampings on the inner wings, bonnet underside and correct un-lacquered slam panel. Absolutely all stickers and plates remain intact including the yellow brake warning sticker on the offside suspension tower and service stickers on the intercooler, long since lost on most examples. The tough T5 manual transmission with 7.5 limited slip differential is direct and precise, just as you would expect from the low mileage covered. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The factory fitted and unrestored 15 X 7 RS Sierra Cosworth ‘Lattice Style’ alloy wheels are remarkable with no kerbing damage and only faint scratches to the outer rim edges. The part numbers and raised stampings are prominent and show clear definition, a feature lost upon the usual refurbished items. Quality Dunlop SP Sport 205/50 R15 tyres with excellent tread are fitted all round and the spare wheel is shod in the original unused Dunlop SP Sport D40 fitment. Diagonally split hydraulic brakes featuring anti-lock assistance and Teves four piston front callipers offer excellent stopping power to match the performance. HISTORY FILE Registered new on the 27th October 1988 by Ford Main Dealer La Motte Garages Limited of Jersey, this exceptional Sapphire Cosworth boasts credentials of just 36,158 warranted miles and four traceable owners from new, the third being the RS specialist who registered the car in the UK. A new car sales invoice and order form made out to first keeper, Mr G Romeril, confirms the price new of £16,524.80 less part exchange allowance of £8,024 for his Escort RS Turbo! The second Jersey keeper, Mr K Surcouf, purchased the car in 2003 and owned it until 2016 whereby RS Specialist, Mr G Jones, sourced the car and arranged shipping and UK registration before passing ownership to the previous keeper Mr T Warren. The huge history file is beautifully presented with all service invoices throughout to fully verify the low mileage. All handbooks, radio guide and dealership literature is kept in the plastic wallet. Representing an incredibly well preserved example of what is now firmly established as collectable Ford RS product, KGF Classic Cars are privileged to offer this car ready for the next custodian. MOT April 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/K535xozR95g To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://www.flickr.com/gp/kgfclassiccars/V344Q2 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

    • Year: 1988
    • Mileage: 36158 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
    KGF Classic Cars
    01733425140 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Ford Sierra

    £15,995 £15,995

    4x4 ONLY 2 FORMER KEEPERS + 2 KEYS + FULL SERVICE HISTORY + MASSIVE HISTORY + VERY WELL MAINTAINED EXAMPLE + MORE SPEC AND TO FOLLOW

    • Mileage: 97000 mi
    • Engine size: 1993
    For sale
  • 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
  • FORD SIERRA LX 1989

    £5,000 £5,000

    WE PRESENT THIS FORD SIERRA LX FINISHED IN PURE SILVER. ;;;* SUN ROOF ;* 5 SPEED GEARBOX ;* CASSETTE PLAYER ;* RADIO ;* BLUE INTERIOR ;;***VIEWINGS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY*** ;;PLEASE CALL TODAY TO ARRANGE A VIEWING AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE.;;JUST TEXT OR EMAIL YOUR FULL REG and MILEAGE FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION QUOTE, RESERVE THIS CAR FOR FOR A GBP 100 DEPOSIT FULLY REFUNDABLE IF THE CAR ISN'T AS DESCRIBED THAT'S HOW CONFIDENT WE ARE! ;;CALL US FOR AN ACCURATE TELEPHONE OF EACH INDIVIDUAL CARS CONDITION.

    • Mileage: 72500 mi
    • Engine size: 1.769
    For sale
  • FORD SIERRA XR4i 1984 Manual Petrol

    POA POA

    Ford Sierra XR4i. Recently awoken from several years in dry storage. The car runs well and has survived very well. It will of course need some restoration work. The correct colour for the model and this particular car was ordered with all available extras. It is fitted with PAS, sun roof, electric windows, central locking, headlamp wash and alloys. These quick Fords are getting harder to find now..

    For sale
  • Ford Sierra 1983

    £1,200 £1,200

    A FINE EXAMPLE OF ITS TYPE AND GETTING RARER,OWNED SINCE 2000 AND GARAGED SINCE 2005.ALL SORN PAPERWORK UPTO DATE.ALL ORIGINAL AND NO ROT.NO MAJOR FAULTS TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE.SUIT ENTHUSIAST.RELUCTANT SALE AS SPACE REQUIRED.THIS CAR DESERVES TO BE BACK ON THE ROAD AND SEEN

    • Mileage: 65950 mi
    • Engine size: 1993
    For sale
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