In 1982, Ford dumbfounded the motoring world by replacing the ultra-conventional and best-selling Cortina with the relatively refined Sierra. In 1985-6, it produced further shocks by reviving its association with race-engine manufacturers Cosworth, to make competitive rally and Group A racing versions, designated RS.
In 1987, Ford and Cosworth found what they were looking for — having perfected the Sierra RS Cosworth’s handling characteristics, they now found the extra power to make it worthwhile.
The development car went to Aston Martin’s Tickford racing specialist team for the conversion. They called it the Sierra Cosworth RS500, because only 500 were built to homologate it for rallying and racing; and because in its race tuning, the aggressive, pug-nosed car produced over 500 bhp.
It looked rather unprepossessing: a three-door saloon with bonnet vents, air intakes beneath a bumper stretched wide across the front, and an enormous `whale tail’ spoiler stuck on the back. The ‘big wing’ was declared the ‘automotive equivalent of [1980s] shoulder-pads’ (presumably making the RS500 the Joan Collins of the motoring world).
First impressions were confounded when it roared into action. The RS500 behaved like a brilliantined thug. The road version, powered up to 224 bhp (from 203 bhp in the original Cosworth RS), appeared in your rear-view mirror as though from nowhere, all wide arches and pumping energy —unmistakably quick — and sailed disdainfully past. On the race-track, the RS500 swept all before it.
It was the most successful Touring Car in the world. The RS500 won the World Touring Car Championship in 1987, and was so authoritatively dominant that the WTC/FIA changed the rules to outlaw it. Even so, it won countless races world-wide, and still holds the unbeaten record of 40 straight wins in the British Touring Car Championships.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
March, 1987 (until August, 1987)
1,993 cc DOHC Straight Four Turbo
Top speed of 154 mph (248 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Roughly half the Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500 models made still exist. They are highly sought-after. Most of the original 500 were black, but a few were white or a special ‘Moondust Blue’. Find one of those and you’re in the money.