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Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

I once had the use of one of these exceptional machines for a couple of weeks back in the late Eighties when the first  Sierra Cosworth appeared on the road. It still remains one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.

Mean moody and aggressively fast

This is no ordinary Sierra, but a car so successful in racing that governing body FISA outlawed turbocharged cars. In road trim, it offered  the magic specific power output of 100bhp per liter from its turbocharged 2.0 litre, twin cam 16 -valve in-line four, a top speed of 150mph and acceleration from 0-60 in six seconds.

Thanks to the engineers at Northamptonshire based Cosworth Engineering for that, and Ford Special Vehicle Engineering in Essex for getting the project rolling. The Cossie used a beefed-up version of the defunct base model Sierra three door bodyshell, uprated brakes and suspension, a Mustang sourced five-speed gearbox to cope with the torque. In true Essex style, it was all topped off with a lairy rear wing. The RS legend was well and truly alive.

It was an homologation special (5000 had to be built to qualify for touring car racing: around 6500 were built including the meaner and more powerful RS500) that lasted just two years in production before being replaced by the more civilised and more numerous four door Sapphire Cosworth. Drive one now and you'll still be thrilled by the sustained, jet-like acceleration, wonderfully positive steering and great handling balance. You might be surprised that this race-bred missile even manages to be comfortable and quite refined. But you won't bat an eyelid at the Cossie's dominance of late Eighties saloon car racing because it feels every inch the circuit-master its makers intended.

RS 500

Turbo-UK 2002

Copyright R E Phillips