The Sierra Cosworth was more than just a race car. For a period of time, it was THE car – for better or for worse.
Big mobile phones, big shoulder pads, big hair, big city bonuses, big coke addictions; recall the ’80s (with a twitch and a sniff) and you think BIG.
Porsche captured the zeitgeist with the 911 Turbo. It became the car of choice for the young up and coming; big cost, big speed, big wheels, big wing. But following (well, tail-gating) was the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. It matched the 911’s performance and delivered Porsche-like dominance on the racetrack. Oh, and its wing wasn’t just big – it was pornographic.
Crucially, the Cossie was half the price of the Porsche. It democratised the performance car as so many fast Fords did before it. You could blow off exotica with your kids in the back seats and, when you got bored with the performance, you could tune it and tune it and tune it again. A road Cossie, fettled by BBR, Graham Goode or any number of fast Ford specialists that rode the Cossie wave, could deliver 500-plus bhp for a pretty modest sum. Which, lest we forget, was more power (and less weight) than even the mighty Ferrari F40.
Naturally, Cossies got crashed. A lot. The demand for spare parts grew – both for road and competition cars – and therefore insurance premiums soared. Nefarious types recognised the demand for spare parts, and soon Cossies were stolen to order. As our own features editor Simon Arron, who drove a Sapphire Cosworth explains, “It became such valuable currency for low-lifes.”
Sure enough, news pages started to fill with stories of Cosworths being involved in robberies and car chases and, when the 4×4 Sapphire and Escort arrived on the scene, its inherent traction appealed to ram-raiders. Legend has it that a gang of thieves used a 4×4 Sapphire to drive up the steps of a shopping centre in Manchester, through the doors and into the centre before reversing through the plate glass window of a jewellers and filling the boot with gems. However, whisper it, many joyriders stole Cossies simply to experience them. They were targeted because their performance had taken on a mythical quality; if you were a petrolhead (clean or dirty) to drive one was to kiss the hand of God. Max Power magazine declared the Cossie ‘King’ on one of its covers.
But by now the shine was wearing off, despite a starring role for the ‘Saff’ version in the UK detective series Spender, while strong results for the Escort on the rally stages started to overshadow the bigger machine. Owners were shocked when annual insurance renewals began to match the value of the car and turned to Subaru Imprezas and Mitsubishi Evos, cars superior to the Cosworth in almost every way, for their kicks. The King was dead. Nick Trott