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