RE: Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth | The Brave Pill

RE: Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth | The Brave Pill

Saturday 23rd November 2019

Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth | The Brave Pill

Remember when these were three grand? Not any more...



Is there a more evocative word in the petrolhead's lexicon than Cosworth? To those of a certain age the name of Northampton's most famous engine builder will always be linked primarily to the DFV V8 that powered several generations of Formula 1 contenders. But to those of us who did most of our growing up in the eighties and nineties Cosworth - and its Cossie diminutive - is all about the fast Fords.

I'm a total, unashamed fanboy. As a teenager I could see the appeal of supercars in the same way I could see the attraction of supermodels - as bedroom poster fantasies rather than the sorts of dates you were likely to take to McDonalds. But the Cosworth was a much more accessible dream, a blue collar hero with genuine motorsport pedigree and performance that made it one of the fastest things on the road. Unlike true exotica, it was also a common sight in the wild.

While most adolescent dreamers of the period preferred the whale-tailed two-door version, I was more drawn to the subtle appeal of the later four-door Sapphire. One lived outside a pub near to where I lived - wearing the private plate JAT28N - and although passing it added at least half a mile to the walk home from school, I'd opt to do so most days just to have a quiet gawp. Hell, most of the reason I ended up owning a rival Cosworth-engined three-box is that I couldn't afford (or insure) a Sapphire in similar condition.


Values of RS Cosworths have been rising strongly for years, with some of the most desirable specimens long since leaving the gravitational field of planet sensible. In 2017 a mint RS500 sold for Β£120,000, but earlier this month a much more common two-door Sierra RS made Β£80,000 at Anglia Car Auctions, that valuation underwritten by it having covered just 7000 miles and having been parked in a garage since 1991. The Sapphire is much more common than the two-door, Ford building more than three times as many, and being less desirable to collectors means that prices have climbed a much shallower slope. The Β£14,000 being asked for our Pill being is close to the bottom of the market for a genuine Cossie these days, especially a 4x4.

It's impossible to write about the Ford Cosworths without making at least a brief detour into the life of crime that so many of them were inadvertently drawn into. Ford's decision to sell early RSes with no more security gear than was fitted to the standard Sierra quickly proved disastrous, the car becoming a favourite of scroats and joyriders everywhere. Suffice to say that pretty much no RS was immune to it - several of Ford's press demonstrators were nicked and the RWD Sapphire that was used for filming Jimmy Nail's early nineties detective show 'Spender' was stolen off the set by some Geordie scallies and later found burned out. Nail was upgraded to a 4x4 version in the next series, but from then on the car always had its own bodyguard.


The thievery made all RS models hard to own - our Pill is still wearing the Stop Lok that most had in addition to various alarms and trackers - with insurance premiums soon rising to the level normally reserved for supertankers heading into warzones. Depreciation became brutal and values for Sapphires were soon in the basement. In parallel the tuning potential of the engine was becoming obvious; it used a heavily modified Pinto block with an all-new 16-valve Cosworth-cast cylinder head and a Garrett T3 turbo and was delivered to customers in a conservative state of tune; this 4x4 would have left the factory with 217hp. With a ready supply of both cheap cars and cheap parts - many of which had been harvested from stolen vehicles - the RS soon at the centre of a major tuning culture.

Our Pill is being sold with a fair number of the mods that were commonly applied to a generation of RS models. Highlights include a polished head and meatier head gasket, a puffier turbo, a variable boost controller, plus bigger AP Racing brakes, coilovers and some supplementary dials. The under-bonnet view also reveals the familiar presence of the blue aftermarket hoses it seemed every RS that reached the pages of Fast Ford or Max Power magazines used to wear, as well as a substantial strut brace. The vendor reports the car is making 353hp, which is actually a fairly modest tally for a tweaked Cossie. While originality is more prized these days, this isn't a car that's trying to hide its history, and as the seller points out it would be a relatively simple - if time consuming task - to put it back to standard.


More importantly, it looks pretty much stock, which is more than you can say for many of its siblings and the various visual horrors that were frequently wrought upon them when they were cheap. Beyond aftermarket wheels and a lowered stance our Pill looks pretty much exactly as it would have left the showroom, still having all of the proper badges that were often prised off by tea leafs wanted to upgrade their 1.8 LX Sapphires. Flint grey has always been a colour that suits the Sapphire particularly well, too.

There are more issues in the cabin, as the current owner admits. The door cards need refacing, there are nineties style aftermarket speaker pods and dials plus a non-original stereo and a temperamental alarm remote. All of which are solvable for anyone with the time and patience. The MOT history also backs up the vendor's claims that the car is pretty much free of rot, having recorded a clean pass last month. The last advisories were as long ago as 2013, with the tester warning that "outer sill sings of corrosion." A tune that many of us know well. It hasn't recurred since and, on the visual evidence of these pictures, the exterior looks good. Beyond the grot that affected all Fords of this era, the Cosworths are widely reckoned to be pretty tough, although gearboxes struggle to digest big power increases and rarer parts are hard to find and expensive.

While a relatively leggy Sapphire will never be among the most desirable members of the clan, it's not hard to see the cultish appeal of the RS brand continuing to grow. This is a car that could be used as-is while being sympathetically restored, not one that would need to be kept wrapped in cotton wool to maintain its value. Having blokes of a certain age says "phwoar, Cossie!" every time you park up is just a bonus.


See the full ad here

Search for a Ford Sierra Cosworth here


Author
Discussion

Mike 83

Original Poster:

40 posts

9 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
I really like this it's not to try hard it is what it is an old fast Ford but personally I would prefer the wheels black or dark grey.

alorotom

7,370 posts

136 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
My dad got rid of an exCatB imperial blue Sapphy Cossie when he chopped it it for a Vectra ST with massive scrappage deal bonuses ... Total sacrilege (even with the CatB tag)

There's a couple of these I see locally when the weather's decent, they've not aged like escorts ... They look out of proportion to me now ... Still wouldn't say no!

iceicebaby1980

97 posts

47 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Don’t know anything about theses . If they handle well . What the reliability’s like at different levels of tune . I can see why there desirable . I’d rather have one of theses or a escort Cosworth over the newer focus Rs .

Noodle1982

1,476 posts

55 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Those Kahn 5 spokes were the richer man's TSW Venoms back in the day.

Ahhhh the memories.....

PSB1967

63 posts

105 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
1991, A guy I knew had a Moonstone blue one of which he was paranoid about. He drove to Bournemouth for a weekend away with his missus' but was convinced he'd been followed so drove home again. He asked me to fit security to it, which I did, nearly £800 worth!
A month or so later the car was stolen from his garage while he was at work. Understandably he kicked off at me. Later that day he called to apologise because it turned out his house had been burgled and while rifling through his kitchen draws etc, the scrotes found a set of car keys with a Cosworth badge attached. On account that his TV and associated goods had gone the police thought the scrotes hadn't come for the car but had got lucky, possibly using it to haul more goods from the house. It has found burnt out a few days later. Ah! memories........

markcoznottz

5,380 posts

173 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Prehistoric build quality on the sapphires, the door cards falling to bits was normal. Small car now in the flesh. They updated the binnacle surround in the very last ones, cost ooh about five quid, but was a big thing back then. Very fast in a straight line when breathed on. Before all the grey imports came over these cars had a HUGE following amongst the car enthusiast scene.

s m

18,394 posts

152 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
iceicebaby1980 said:
Don’t know anything about theses . If they handle well . What the reliability’s like at different levels of tune . I can see why there desirable . I’d rather have one of theses or a escort Cosworth over the newer focus Rs .
They all handle a bit differently depending on whether you’re on about the 3-door, 4-door or 4-dr 4wd

They had a 4wd version at the Autocar Handling Day back in 1990
Did a pretty good time for a 4wd in the dry hot on the heels of the E34 M5. 2wd version was a bit quicker on that circuit but the 4wd version was new that year so got the invite. Panther Solo had the same engine but was a lot slower

They have narrow tyres ( 205s ) by today’s standards so they’re not ultra-grippy but pretty adjustable


cerb4.5lee

13,379 posts

129 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
These still make me go weak at the knees. One of my closest mates had a couple of them(both RWD) so I've enjoyed lots of times driving them, but the closest I got was by owning a couple of xr4x4s.

If money wasn't an object then I would love one tucked up in my garage for sure.

DoubleTime

1,420 posts

91 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Why is it that almost every single saff cossie you clapped eyes on had/has rippled sills that look like they are about to crumble at any given moment?

Don Roque

16,852 posts

108 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Fantastic cars, a real performance hero. The Sapphire shape was always what I dreamed of. Still my favourite sports saloon of all time.

As an aside, a friend of mine was a cameraman on 'Spender' so did a lot of the shots of Jimmy Nail's car. Another friend remembers a Ford dealership (in Sandyford or around Melbourne Street IIRC) where Nail hid his Cosworth whilst being chased by some thugs on the show. That dealership is now long gone.

The association between Ford Cosworth models and crime is so strong as to still persist today. I recall reading that Tyneside criminal Viv Graham had his stolen twice but it was returned on both occasions once the scrotes found out who it belonged to and what was likely to happen to them if they were grassed up. He was also shot and killed whilst getting into that car, and a picture of it with the window broken at the scene of the shooting appeared in the local paper.


Explorer1959

70 posts

7 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Had one in the late eighties. Got it chipped by the local Turbo Technics garage and it was pretty quick. Back then you could open it up on the A roads. I remember opening the bonnet and the turbo was white hot. You could literally see through it.

Downside - it was a magnet for the vermin. Any fast Ford was - ten seconds and a screwdriver and the car was gone.

After the first failed attempt I took the badge off, had the door locks shaved, and an ignition micro-switch hidden under the seat. It looked like a chavved GLX and had no more problems with the tea leaves.

Always had to keep it in sight when out on the town just in case....

Notsofastfrank

130 posts

144 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
I had one of these in this colour. I bought an 18-month old one for £12k. They had just become almost impossible to insure, luckily I was with the Co-op who would only insure existing customers, £700 a year I recall. Kept it for 5 years and 60k, never missed a beat. Brilliant car for its time. Apart from the insurance it was pretty cheap to run, the only problem was getting the muppets at the local Ford dealers (Perrys) to service it properly. I wouldn't want to drive another one now, I'll keep the memories rather than be disappointed - don't meet your heroes.

martin12345

78 posts

38 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Was very lucky because I had the chance to have a Black 4x4 Sapphire Cossi as my company car for 9 months (I worked for Jaguar and we normally changed cars (always Fords due to ownership) every 6 months but I managed to hang on to the Sapphire a bit longer)

My memory is that it was one of the best cars i had ever driven (and working for Jaguar I had the chance to drive everything premium; BMW, Audi, Merc, Porsche, Ferrari and a few interesting "odd balls" like Celica GT4, RX7 etc etc) so I had plenty to compare it with

Reasonably fast by any standard,handled extremely well, wet and dry combined with a "normal" Sapphire with big boot, seats for 5 etc
Refinement was OK except if you used low RPM with a high throttle opening where the driveline vibrated horrendously (so you just used a lower gear) and fuel economy was woeful for a normal saloon car (~20 mpg) but fine for the performance

Mine was broken into but not stolen but it had an extra immobiliser which might have saved it

My happiest memory is of haking the car through the yorkshire dales and compressing the rear suspension so much that the diff grounded on the road (fortunately didn't crack !) - great, great car to drive whenever and whatever the conditions

The one thing that alarmed me about the car was the reliability. In 9 months and 17,000 miles it accumulated the following

a) Rough idle - traced to inlet manifold only having 2 of the 7 bolts left holding it onto the cylinder head
b) exhaust blow - similar to the inlet, but in this case only 3 of the 10 nuts holding the exhaust manifold on left
- also the turbo damper had failed (cause or effect of the nuts, not sure)
c) 3rd gear synchro heavily worn resulting in baulky shifts in the last 1000 miles of my ownership (didn't get this fixed as the car was being returned)

All of the above were fixed under warranty so didn't cost me anything but it's a scary level of reliability even by the standards of the early 1990's.

So, as a weekend toy for do hundreds/small thousands of miles a year - very attracted
As a daily driver - no chance !!


PS - I later was also fortunate enough to have an Escort Cossi for 6 months. Whilst unquestionably a faster car round corners it was a less balanced car in what it could do (big turbo - had to thrash to get performance, boot full of spare wheel, 2 doors only.....). I loved it in it's own way but given the choice of the two I'd take the Sapphire

Notsofastfrank

130 posts

144 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
alorotom said:
My dad got rid of an exCatB imperial blue Sapphy Cossie when he chopped it it for a Vectra ST with massive scrappage deal bonuses ... Total sacrilege (even with the CatB tag)

There's a couple of these I see locally when the weather's decent, they've not aged like escorts ... They look out of proportion to me now ... Still wouldn't say no!
My memory is that there were only a couple of Imperial Blue ones, the last off the production line and Ford kept one of them. Was it one of those or had it been resprayed? The only time I saw one in Imperial blue was on display at Dunton.

Explorer1959

70 posts

7 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
....Tyneside criminal Viv Graham had his stolen twice but it was returned on both occasions once the scrotes found out who it belonged to....

Story I heard at the time was his Cossie was stolen so he called Metro Radio and announced it was his car and he wanted it back. Now.

An hour later three Cossies were duly parked up outside his house....

Edited by Explorer1959 on Saturday 23 November 10:27

cossy400

2,333 posts

133 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Used to own a 2 wheel drive G plate Sapphire. 360bhp,

Very much loved the smile that car gave me everytime i drove it, sold it way back in 2008 to pay towards a st box Fiesta and some more towards the deposit for a new house.

£4250...............

Now as the RE: is saying £14000 is the lower limit, or though im starting a new job in January and if all goes well on the money side then id like to get back in one.

Its just sold but there was a lovely Moonstone Sapphire on Ebay for £14000.


Raw aswell no driver aids to bail you out, you had to be on the ball, turbo kicked in and off it went.




wab172uk

1,514 posts

176 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
I was Cosworth obsessed back in the day. I loved these cars, especially the Saphire 4x4.

I was only 16 back in 1990, and my Dad must had tired of me begging him to get one. He had an XR4x4 at the time. I pretty much begged him constantly. Every conversation about cars would always get back to the Cosworth.

His biggest argument was it would get stolen. He nearly caved in, as a conversation turned to colours. His mate ordering one may have made him waver. Yet his mind was quickly changed back to `No` again after his mates 2 day old Saphire 4x4 was stolen off his driveway.

To me the Saphire 4x4 will always be my hero. The car I lusted / obsessed after. .

Explorer1959

70 posts

7 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
High insurance premiums pretty much killed off the Cosworth. The independent garage down the road from my Dad had three almost new whale-tails each for less than five grand.

I told him to buy one and put it in the garage under a dust sheet and forget about it for ten years...

No way, he said, they will never go up in value....

cerb4.5lee

13,379 posts

129 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
wab172uk said:
I was Cosworth obsessed back in the day. I loved these cars, especially the Saphire 4x4.

I was only 16 back in 1990, and my Dad must had tired of me begging him to get one. He had an XR4x4 at the time. I pretty much begged him constantly. Every conversation about cars would always get back to the Cosworth.

His biggest argument was it would get stolen. He nearly caved in, as a conversation turned to colours. His mate ordering one may have made him waver. Yet his mind was quickly changed back to `No` again after his mates 2 day old Saphire 4x4 was stolen off his driveway.

To me the Saphire 4x4 will always be my hero. The car I lusted / obsessed after. .
That was very similar to me and I was 17 in 1990 and my Dad also had a XR4x4. My Dad did test drive a 3dr Cosworth(I went on the test drive with him), and I really wanted him to get it but he never did.

Funnily enough his XR4x4 was also stolen and you had a right job on holding onto a Fast Ford back then for sure.

In many ways I wished I'd gone for a Sapphire Cosworth when I was buying my S14a 200SX, because they were both around the same price at the time(£12k back in 2002). But I wanted something a bit newer and lower mileage so I went with the 200 instead.

eliot

8,649 posts

203 months

Saturday 23rd November 2019
quotequote all
Explorer1959 said:
I remember opening the bonnet and the turbo was white hot. You could literally see through it
scratchchin