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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
9995 38995 GBP
  • Lot 831

    Ford Sierra

    £55,000 - £65,000 est. £55,000 - £65,000 est.
    Auction Date: 21 Jul 2018
    RESERVE PRICE
    • Mileage: 67222 mi
    • Engine size: 1993
    Auction Date: 21 Jul 2018
    £55,000 - £65,000 est. £55,000 - £65,000 est.
    Auction Date: 21 Jul 2018
    RESERVE PRICE
    Silverstone Auctions
    +44 (0) 1926 691 141 View contact number
  • Ford Sierra

    £31,995 £31,995

    *SIMILAR QUALITY CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A very early production Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth with just 24,608 miles. EQUIPMENT Bodyside mouldings with black insert, polycarbonate bumpers, integral front air dam, heated front windscreen, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, tinted glass, homofocal headlights, headlamp wash/wipe, rear window aerial, colour coded rear spoiler, extended centre console, quartz digital clock, fascia light dimmer, graphic information module, map reading lamps, tilt and slide sunroof, central locking, front and rear electric windows, integral rear headrests, Electronic Sound System ECU2 with power amplifier. Dealer options; Security glass etching, Shurlock ED10 immobiliser system, Ford tailored carpet mats. EXTERIOR Launched to the UK market in January 1988, this Sapphire Cosworth was built in the first month of production, January 1988. Finished in original Ford Diamond White, (Code B3), the paint is preserved and boasts a bright shine and polished uniform finish. All factory panels are pin straight with linear gaps and even close scrutiny will struggle to discover anything other than miniscule markings. All exterior trim including the commonly misshapen front splitter is perfect and features such as Anthracite fog lamps surrounds denote an early 2WD example. 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 number plates, rear screen sticker and tax disc holder have been retained. Without question 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 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 very low mileage. A tiny amount of shrinkage to the driver’s door card can only just be seen. 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. All functions and controls operate including the standard Sound ECU2 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, front slam panel and bonnet underside. All stickers and plates remain intact including the 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 only minimal markings and one scratch to the offside front rim edge. 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 Built at Ford’s Genk assembly plant in January 1988, the first month of Sapphire Cosworth production, this example was registered new on the 12th February 1988 by Ford Main Dealer and RS official agent, Charles King of Bedford. The first owner was a Mr Ronald Shepherd, proprietor of specialist’s RS Engineering in Buckinghamshire. An avid Ford RS enthusiast and expert, Mr Shepherd was determined to acquire a brand new Sapphire Cosworth and attended the launch party at Charles Wells Ford on the 11th February 1988 to secure his order. He even kept in the history file newspaper cuttings advertising the launch party and other articles covering the event afterwards! The new vehicle sales invoice made out to Mr Shepherd confirms the price paid of £19,300. The history file is fantastic and includes the original Charles King Ford A5 wallet with original service book, handbooks, guides and POS literature, and despite the incredibly low mileage, the service book contains nine stamped entries. The most recent entry in November 2017 with supporting invoice is from renowned Cosworth specialist Harvey Gibbs of Supreme Car Services whereby a service and brake overhaul was carried out. There is a documented timing belt change in 2015 at 23,844 miles. Completing the comprehensive history file is every MOT certificate completed from the first in 1991 to the current in November 2017 along with service invoices and receipts. Articles of this car covered in classic car publications, original sales brochure and two Ford keys with Charles Wells fob complete the history file. 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 genuine 24,608 mile example ready for the next custodian. MOT November 2018, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please copy the link below: https://youtu.be/2JT8_ehcejA To see a complete set of photographs of this car please copy the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskxhCgD2 '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: 24608 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
    £31,995 £31,995
  • 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