Two things usually did it for the Sierra Cosworth. A wet curve quite often, if its driver was unaware of this fast Ford’s capacity for breaking away as unexpectedly as a globally-warmed iceberg, or some thievery, the Cossie a vagabond’s favourite for getaway duties.
Attrition like this saw plenty of these winged beasts making early dates with police pounds and salvage yards, though some shrewd buyers recognised their collectability from day one, which is why there are survivors.
The Sierra Cosworth announced itself with the subtlety of a gunman at a tea-party. Its crown jewel was a rear wing big enough to have come from a light aircraft, and the effect, suggested our sage editor-in-chief at the time, was a bit like walking around with your own crown jewels on display. Though he expressed this with vivid Australianisms that cannot be printed here.
Besides a wing so big that a fat central spar was required to support it, the Sierra wore body-colour sill and wheelarch extensions, polished spoked alloys of unexpected sophistication, a deep front airdam, extractor vents in the bonnet and a brutal rectangular hole of a grille that provided a sizeable clue to its race mission.
This car was an ‘80s homologation special, vying with the BMW M3 and Lancia Delta Integrale to be the most special of them all. But its mission was also to add shine to the muddied reputation of the jelly-mould Sierra, which it managed to pretty startling effect.
On the inside
Those fortunate enough to enjoy this Essex weaponry sat on Recaros whose stout bolstering guaranteed that their occupants did a lot less slithering than the car they were bolted to, the driver grasping a dinky, thick-rimmed sports wheel behind which lay a modest turbo-boost gauge whose darting needle he’d have no time to read when the Garrett AiResearch puffer did its stuff.
That turbo blew hard, lofting the power of this red cylinder-headed, Cosworth-engineered 2.0 litre to 204bhp – a lot, back then - with a torque curve more elastic than a Weight Watcher’s waistband.
The Cosworth’s power delivery wasn’t quite all or nothing, but it came on with a venom sufficient to dislodge rear wheels whose barely-detectable negative camber provided a clue to what might happen next. And that could be a gyration, possibly violent, probably unexpected.
The Sierra’s traction control was a delicate right foot and your heart rate, as you’d soon learn if you allowed the turbo to spool up at the wrong moment.
Yet this Ford was a civilised thing – tractable, a smooth cruiser, deft into corners and unexpectedly comfortable. The Cosworth motor was rough when stretched – rough enough to fracture alternator mounts – but potent brakes, a meaty shift and this car’s sheer, hurricane-like zest produced a thrill of a drive every time. It was, and is, one of Ford’s finest.
The ship sailed on prices for these a long time ago. The cheapest one we can find today is £57,000, but mint, low mileage examples can fetch double that...