Andy Rouse was the most successful BTCC driver of all time, surpassed only by Jason Plato
500 Sierra RS500s were built to satisfy Group A touring car regulations
The Cossie, in RS500 spec produced 224bhp; 20bhp more than standard
The RS500 could reach 62mph in 6.2sec and achieve 153mph
A second, tailgate-mounted lower spoiler was the most obvious visual change, decals aside
Additional cooling vents were fitted, along with a new front splitter
The interior was little changed over basic Sierras, but Recaro seats were fitted
The Cosworth was based on a standard three-door bodyshell. Only the XR4 used a bespoke shell
The RS500 cost around £4k more than standard Cosworths. Today mint cars can fetch more than £60k
Its BTCC dominance, at the hands of Andy Rouse and Steve Soper, cannot be understated
The Kaliber-liveried car remains one of the most iconic BTCC racers of all time
Ludwig and Niedzwiedz were disqualified after winning the 1987 James Hardie 1000 in Australia due to a technical infringement
Robb Gravett took an RS500 to win the BTCC championship in 1990
Dick Johnson Racing built the Robb Gravett and Mike Smith-driven cars in the 1989 season
Few cars this side of a Porsche 911 were as fast as the RS500
The RS500 rear-wheel drive Cosworth was a tail-happy machine as a its racers would testify
By today's standards, the RS500 was light. Its 1240kg kerbweight compares with 1930kg for an Insignia VXR
The RS500 used a Cosworth YB engine which was itself based on the Pinto block
Additional injectors were among the uprated or modified components
The dials were standard Sierra units, save for a boost gauge in the top-left
The Sierras were the stars of the Birmingham Superprix in the mid-1980s
Tim Harvey cut his touring car teeth at the wheel of a Sierra before winning the '92 championship in a BMW
Eggenberger-run Sierras in Texaco livery were regular front-runners
This year marks 25 years since the introduction of the Ford Sierra RS500. The model marked the pinnacle of Ford’s range in the mid-1980s, and was virtually unbeatable in Group A touring car competitions.
The RS500 was launched two years after the Sierra RS Cosworth at the 1985 Geneva motor show and was conceived as an even more potent choice for touring car racing. In Group A, it proved devastating, taking 40 outright wins in succession.
In race trim, the rear-wheel drive Sierra could reliably produce 500bhp, but road car versions, of which Ford needed to sell 500, were sensibly pegged to 224bhp.
Revisions to the standard Cosworth YB engine were extensive, even if an increase of 20bhp over standard sounds small. A Garrett T31 turbo was installed with a larger intercooler and induction system. Twin fuel injectors in each cylinder, pressurised oil-cooled pistons and larger oil and water pumps helped the reliability and pace of the race car.
Performance was impressive, even by today’s standards. It would reach 62mph in 6.2sec and achieve a 153mph, compared to the 6.8sec and 149.5mph of the common-or-garden Cosworth.
External changes were subtle, with a front splitter, additional cooling vents and a second tailgate spoiler added. A gurney flap was fitted to the iconic ‘whale tail’ rear wing and RS500 decals were fitted as standard.
Tickford was chosen to build the RS500 at the rate of 15 per day. The majority were supplied in black, but white and Moonstone Blue paint finishes were available as an option.
The potential wasn’t lost on the buying public. Despite a £19,950 price tag, compared to the £15,950 price of the standard ‘Cossie’, all 500 units sold.
After hitting a sub-£10,000 low in the 1990s, original, low-mileage RS500s have become among the most collectable of all fast Fords. The very best can sell for more than £50,000, and even one in average condition will fetch £20,000. That’s the same as you’ll pay for an excellent example of a standard RS Cosworth, such is the 500’s lasting appeal.
Click on the image above to see our RS500 gallery.
Sierra Cosworth RS500
Price: £19,950 (1987); 0-62mph: 6.2sec; Top speed: 153mph; Economy: 25.2mpg; CO2: na; Kerb weight: 1240kg; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1994cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 224bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 207lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual