There’s huge fun to be had from this motoring legend, but escaping from your ownership without losing money requires careful forethought and a thorough going over first…
Ford Sierra Cosworth (1985-1992):
Torque: 214lb ft@3500rpm
0-60 mph: 6.6s
Fuel consumption: 24-32mpg
Transmission: 4WD, five-speed manual
It’s not hard to see the appeal of the RS Cosworth. Comfy and practical, with great lines, character aplenty and turbo power courtesy of one of the most prestigious names in motorsport – who wouldn’t be titillated? Add to that the prospect of bullish appreciation (they’re archetypal fast Fords after all) and these naughty four-bangers captivate both head and heart.
Is there really any further appreciation left in the fast Ford market? Probably some, although it’s hard to say how much, now that the frenzied years that kept owners hanging onto their Cosworths – dollar signs rolling in their eyes – have cooled down.
Low-mileage, original three-door cars are the stuff of collectors’ dreams (limited edition RS500s can soar well beyond £100k). But the later five-door Sapphire saloons (4x4 from 1990), despite extra refinement, are more down to earth price-wise, and, therefore, a bit smarter if you’re after a Cash-Free Classic – the kind of car you can get some realistic fun out of with minimal risk of big bills, and then sell on without losing money.
There’s a big caveat though, because although some have received obscene levels of expenditure, many haven’t been so lucky. Back- street DIY bodgery and amateur modifications by drivers with concrete feet have been quite commonplace – especially a couple of decades ago. Any Sierra that’s been on the receiving end is unlikely to appreciate and could even go bang.
What Should You Check?
1 - How’s The Ride?
Aftermarket suspension can give a harsh ride and might not be calibrated properly for the car, so it’s worth driving a few different cars to get a feel for what’s normal. If it’s pulling to one side, fear the worst (i.e. crash damage). Steering column bushes go too, but they’re cheap.
2 - Inspect The Structure
Floors, inner and outer sills box sections around the rear springs all rust badly. The engine bay suffers too, and needs assessing for stress fractures, so inspect the inner wings and bulkhead. Check the quality of any welding, which it is frequently below par.
3 - Check The Trim?
Recaro seats are lovely but aren’t cheap to remedy when the cloth wears out. Check for sunroof leaks too. Electrics weren’t the highest quality, and may suffer further reliability issues from poorly fitted aftermarket alarms and stereos. Be as thorough as you can.
4 - Is The Transmission Tired
Gearbox problems are unlikely unless abused or asked to handle a heavily-modified engine – in which case, expiring bearings cause a grumbling sound. Listen for whining indicating a tired diff, and check for clutch slip too; again, more common if modified.
5 - Look For Signs Of TLC
The 2.0-litre YB engine responds well to tuning, but a comprehensive history from specialists is vital for reliability and long-term value. Earlier YBBs can be noisy when cold, but walk away if it clatters when warm. Parts are expensive – be alert to corners having been cut.