The Cosworth sat astride the world of Ford's performance cars like a vast, tattooed gorilla; for many enthusiasts, nothing else mattered. You could feature wonderful little track day Fiestas whose owners had poured love and time into them, or beautifully set-up homebuild rallycross Pumas until the cows came home; for many of our readers, if it didn't have a YB engine in it, it wasn't worth the time of day.
As you might expect, then, we spent plenty of time writing about Cossies. Not to mention, marvelling at how much they cost. Back then, a good, clean two-wheel-drive Sapphire Cosworth could be had for £5,000 - not too unreasonable. But a three-door, as we termed the original hatchback version with largely the same mechanicals under the skin, would set you back as much as £20,000. Our mouths flew open when the first RS500 broached the £40,000 mark.
I still am, but it seems things have calmed down a little since then, probably because it's reached a point at which even the ballsiest investor starts to question the rationale behind throwing three-figure sums at a Sierra with a hepped-up Pinto under the bonnet. Even so, though, at the bottom end of the market, joining the Cosworth club will now set you back around £10,000, at the very least - and even that only gets you a Sapphire that's in need of recommissioning and tidying to get it back on the road.
Mind you, that might not be such a bad shout, given that you'll have to double that budget to get into a tidy-looking example with history like this one. Granted, it's a 4x4, which means it's worth a little more (don't believe the hype; the two-wheel-drive car is more exciting and more involving to drive), but even so, the mileage is barely any lower, which makes me wonder whether the smart thing to do is to buy a slightly tatty modified example like the one above and spend a few grand putting it right.
RS500s, of course, have always been the ones to have - the most prized among Cosworth collectors. Their direct link to the Cosworth's BTCC heritage and their dominance in that series is what makes them so, but despite this, I still struggle to reconcile myself with the prices they now fetch. Prices start - no, I still can't quite believe it either - at around the £70,000 mark, although if that's all you've got to spend you'll have to content yourself with either a modified or a high-mileage example; given the RS500's potential, examples of the former aren't as rare as you might think, although beware of straying above 350hp or so - a Cossie with that much power becomes rather a handful.
If money really is no object, however, and you want one of the best, original RS500s in the country, I'm afraid £100,000 is still the amount you'll have to spend. This one will give you change of a fiver from that budget; it's been fully restored and has covered just 57,000 miles. Sadly, this is probably one of those cars that will end up wrapped up, tucked away and protected as an investment. As much as I love a Cossie, I think I'd rather spend my money elsewhere and get something more usable.
At £54,995, I wouldn't exactly call it cheap - especially given the fact that a few years back you could pick one up for less than £10,000 - but given you get just as much touring car heritage as an RS500, and 30hp or so more, it sort-of - sort-of - qualifies as a bargain. Maybe? Either way, it looks terrific, to my eyes. If I was going to take the plunge and spend big money on a Cossie - something I'd still love to do even after all this time - I think this is where I'd sink it.