Shed Of The Week: Ford Scorpio 24v

We don't see many Fords in SOTW. That's because there are generally only two sorts of Ford: cheap ones that are actually pretty worthy but that will forever be damned as the automotive equivalent of euthanasia; or stupidly expensive ones like RS1600 Escorts or Cortina Loti that are about as far from Henry's 'motoring for all' ideal as it's possible to get. Between those two extremes, just as with Kim Kardashian's ears, there's not much in between.

It's certainly a big ol' bus
It's certainly a big ol' bus
Today is an exception. Let's hear that joyous trumpet taradiddle, jaunty fol-di-rol and snappy rimshot in celebration of the arrival of a big old Ford in our sub-£1K corral of comeliness: the Scorpio Ultima Cosworth 24v Estate.

Long name, long car. Based on a stretched Sierra floorpan, the first 1985 Scorpio was designed to take on the Germans in the executive market. The 1994-98 Mk2 certainly had the physical heft that execs liked: at just under 1,580kg it was nearly 200kg weightier than its more conventionally styled predecessor, the (by comparison at least) almost handsome Mk1 facelift model.

Unfortunately Ford's executive challenge waned when somebody noticed that Scorpio quality and perhaps more importantly image weren't quite on the same level as that of the Germans. Ironically, if the Scorpio had kept going beyond its 1998 fold up date, it might have made some hay against the rusty Mercs. As it was, the company car market did for the Scorpio as user-choosers were positively encouraged by fleet managers to pick BMWs or Mercs on the grounds that they cost less to run and were worth more at resale. Plus, Ford's acquisition of Volvo in 1998 didn't encourage its continuation in this market.

All Mk2 Scorpios came with traction and cruise controls and no manual gearbox option. The Ultima range topper had air-con, CD, climate and electrics galore, not all of which have survived in our Shed. The vendor freely admits to a non-functional sunroof and radio.

Never mind that though, just check out the barge potential on offer here. The Scorpio wagon is a seriously spacious tool. You could get a full week's shopping and at least one medium-to-large gangland rival in the boot.

Of all the places to see a Cosworth badge...
Of all the places to see a Cosworth badge...
We can't move on without addressing the front end styling. It's not much to look at. Some would say it's on the grisly side of vile. No-one is quite sure who was responsible for it, but Ford maintains they sold Scorpios aplenty in spite of it. Mind you, they would say that.

Fact is, as we've said so often before, you're not the mug who has to look at it. What you will be looking at from the lavish padding of your leather armchair is a bonnet covering a historic engine: the Cologne V6. And one with the even more legendary Cosworth name written on it to boot.

Nowadays it seems odd to think that engines for a mainstream Ford would ever be built anywhere but in a Ford factory, but these BOA/BOB engines were indeed built at Cosworth's Wellingborough plant. And it wasn't just a sneaky bit of badge engineering either. To keep costs down, Ford decided to spin out the trusty old Cologne block a bit longer, but on top of that there's a lot of Cossie work going on: new aluminium heads, higher-comp Mahle pistons on modded conrods, and a stiffer, fillet-rolled crank. Balance weights were added to ensmoothen the whole plot.

In the first Cosworth BOA 24-valver, these mods topped the old 12-valver's 150hp power output by 45hp, bringing it to a new high of 195hp at 4,500rpm. Ford reckoned no normally aspirated 3.0-litre could beat that figure. The company then went on to beat it itself with its BOB Cosworth 24v. Featuring a variable resonance inlet system - you can tell that our Shed has this engine from the big plastic cover partially hiding the inlet manifolds - this chain-driven unit used a new EEC V engine management system to hoist horsepower over the 200 mark and the top of the power curve to a somewhat thrashy 6,000rpm. Max torque was delivered at a similarly lofty-sounding 4,250rpm.

Mmm, 90s mass market luxury
Mmm, 90s mass market luxury
So, what are the risks, other than being accused of Fordism? Well, this engine technology dates back to a time when petrol was for burning, not conserving. You'll be fortunate to see better than 25mpg. Rust is an obvious one, but the unstinting maintenance program has included new rear arches. Because this is not the final year '98 model, there are no exterior Cosworth badges. This was a deliberate ploy by Ford to bamboozle thieves who would normally be lured to anything with Cosworth written on it. That would mainly be the Escort and Sierra of course but there's no accounting for the daftness of the average car thief.

The ad strikes just the right balance between the slightly sad circumstances that are bringing this sale about and the vendor's curmudgeonly reluctance to sell. You can understand it too: with just one owner before him and a well under average mileage on the clock, this red beastie has a lot more to give. Unlike Kim Kardashian.

And surely Scorpio has to be one of the coolest names to grace any car. Better than Grace, anyway. Or Kim, for that matter.

Here's the ad.

Now retired and dependant on pension income we have decide to "downsize" and reduce to one small economical car which means I am very reluctantly parting with my Red Ultima Cosworth 24v Estate (p-Reg)
I bought this from its first owner in August 2004 at around 60k miles now 118,700. The car has the usual "Ultima" high spec. with a tow bar (the previous owner only towed a light trailer for his scrambler m/cycle, I have not used it)
The car has been lightly used as a second car with no heavy load carrying and mostly just me driving.. There are all MOT`s and Maint. records - 14 service stamps. Recent MOT OK with no advisories (next MOT 18 Jan 2016) Tyres 5mm all round.
There has been no stinting on maintenance and in the past year has had Disks/Pads replace all round, new heater matrix and reconditioned gearbox. Also hoses replaced. . Climate Control is very good. The rear wheel arches have been replace. Engine has needed no attention other than oil, filters and plugs, except that when water hose running down front of engine block needed replacing opportunity was taken to replace timing chain tensioners. Exhaust is Stainless Steel. The car runs extremely smoothly. I am meticulous about oil changes and it has always been run on Shell V-Power petrol.
Sunshine roof does not work. It didn't when I bought it, with excellent climate control I never felt need to fix it. I think gear stripped, fairly normal fault.
Radio display intermittent. Another common fault, this is my third radio, still have two previous, one cannibalised.
Remote Fob not working. This was OK when I bought car but I expect I have not re-programmed correctly - have spare fob.
Heated w/screen not working. Power is OK so elements u/s - as car garaged not bothered me.
The body is very good for year, interior unmarked.
I think these are fantastic cars and never got the recognition they deserved - no thanks to Clarkson. The best of driving cars.
Photo`s available. Any inspection, drive, welcome.
Located in New Malden, Surrey


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Comments (114) Join the discussion on the forum

  • VolvoT5 01 May 2015

    The non bug-eye versions are much nicer to look at, although not available in an estate?

    My mum had a couple of the non bug-eye cosworths when I was young... fast a quite tail happy. I suspect most have been broken for the engines now or simply rusted to pieces. Autoboxes can be a bit clunky and weak.

    I've always fancied one but I suspect the reality wouldn't live up to the memories. 210 bhp and not that fast by modern standards. Still a cheaper alternative to an old 5 series I guess. I can't see them appreciating in value like the other Cosworth models though.

    Edited by VolvoT5 on Friday 1st May 09:22

  • pSyCoSiS 01 May 2015

    They may be rather ugly, but credit to Ford for trying and it still represents good value for money, for what is a rare car nowadays.

  • Limpet 01 May 2015

    Tragic styling aside, these are really nice old barges. Quick-ish, smooth, loaded with toys, and well put together. Good shed.

  • Fattyfat 01 May 2015

    Going out on a limb, I actually like the look of that.

    Good effort Shed!

  • Turbobanana 01 May 2015

    Lovely, in its own way.
    I had a 2.3 Ultima Estate which answered to the name of Marty (after Marty Feldman, whose unfortunate looks it aped rather well).
    Never got over 25mpg, boot was long but shallow and the ABS light would come on if you parked it on a slope overnight. Eventually died of rust but what a comfy old thing to drive.

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