FORD SIERRA RS COSWORTH
The "Cossie" Sierra has passed into the annals of motoring history as the car that brought rally-style levels of power and grip to a broad public. Its phenomenal performance became a legend, all the more so because it was such exceptional value.
When, in 1986, Cosworth installed its new two-liter twin overhead-camshaft turbo engine into the Sierra body shell, the inherently fine handling of Ford's rear-wheel-drive hatchback was matched by the power to exploit it. Its 204 bhp was generous to say the least and the performance figures proved it: a top speed of 145 mph (233 kph) and 0-60 mph (0-96 kph) in 6.2 seconds. What was more; the engine could be easily tuned to stratospheric heights.
Ford's humble sales-rep special could now out-perform some Ferraris, yet it cost only £16,000 ($27,000) - about the same as a BMW 325i or Toyota Supra. The badge on the back - RS Cosworth -came to signify a performance icon.
In truth, the Cosworth may have looked superficially like a body-kitted Sierra but there was little resemblance under the skin. Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering department intended this to be a convincing Group A race and rally car (which it was), and decided to beef up the whole car. There was a close-ratio five-speed gearbox, limited slip differential, power steering, anti-lock braking, thick anti-roll bars, stiff suspension, wide alloy wheels and tires, and huge disc brakes with four-piston calipers.
The bodywork incorporated no less than 92 modifications, from the widened wheel arches to the dramatic whale-tail spoiler. The aim was to increase down force, which it did, but aerodynamics suffered, with the Cd falling to 0.34 and criticism coming from certain quarters about stability in cross-winds. Aesthetically, it was hardly subtle either. These drawbacks hardly mattered, however, to the drivers who reveled in the Cosworth's neck-snapping acceleration and finely balanced handling.
Because it was intended as a homologation special for racing, only o021 Cosworth hatchbacks were made, plus an additional 500 evolution RS500 models with 224 bhp and an even larger rear spoiler. Their successor was the Sapphire Cosworth, a four-door model with much more restrained styling but all the driving ability of the earlier car. Added bonuses included greater practicality and more generous equipment levels.
The theme was extended in 1990 with the 4x4 version, developed to give the Sierra a better chance in rallying. The 4x4 gained an extra 16 bhp, thanks to a new 16-valve cylinder head. That meant even more performance as well as sure footed handling, which left virtually every other car on the road for dead.
Having been in its lifetime the number one target for thieves and joy-riders in Britain, and hence almost impossible to insure, the "Cossie" has since assumed the mantle of a respected and affordable classic.
FORD SIERRA RS COSWORTH
POWER 204-224 bhp
TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual
TOP SPEED 143-149 mph(230-240km/h)
NUMBER BUILT 26,771