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Ford Sierra

Ford Sierra
Manufacturer Ford Europe
Production 1982–1994
Body and chassis
Class Large family car
Body style 2-door pickup/ute
3-door notchback/liftback
5-door notchback/liftback
4-door saloon
5-door estate
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Related Ford Scorpio
Ford P100
Engine 1294cc Pinto I4 SOHC
1593cc Pinto I4 SOHC
1796cc Pinto I4 SOHC
1993cc Pinto I4 SOHC
1998cc DOHC I4 DOHC
1598cc CVH I4 CVH
1769cc CVH I4 CVH
2293cc Cologne V6 OHV
2792cc Cologne V6 OHV
2935cc Cologne V6 OHV
5.0 L V8 OHV (South Africa only)
1.8 L 1753cc I4 SOHC Turbodiesel
2.3 L 2304cc I4 OHV Indenor Diesel
Transmission 3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Wheelbase 102.7 in (2,609 mm)
Length 178.4 in (4,531 mm)
Width 68 in (1,727 mm)
Height 53.8 in (1,367 mm)
Predecessor Ford Cortina Mark V
Ford Taunus TC3
Successor Ford Mondeo

The Ford Sierra is a large family car that was built by Ford Europe from 1982 to 1994. It was designed by Uwe Bahnsen, Robert Lutz and Patrick le Quément. The code used during development was "Project Toni"[3] It was named for the Spanish word for mountain range.

The Ford Sierra was first unveiled on 22 September 1982 at the British International Motor Show hosted at the NEC in Birmingham.[4] with sales beginning on 15 October 1982,[5] replacing the Ford Cortina. Its aerodynamic styling was ahead of its time and as such, many conservative buyers (including company car drivers) did not take fondly to the Ford Cortina's replacement.[3]

It was mainly manufactured in Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, although Sierras were also assembled in Ireland, Argentina, Venezuela, South Africa and New Zealand.

Assembly for the Ford Sierra in Ireland was located at the Marina in Cork City which became the first European vehicle plant for Ford Motor Company outside of the United States in 1932.[6] After an investment in the plant of £10 Million in 1982 to upgrade it for KD kit assembly of the Sierra, it briefly had a relatively small production output of the car which was assembled mainly for export until the plants closure two years later in 1984.[7] The former plant at the Marina is now a distribution point for imported Ford Cars to the South of Ireland. The Sierra was the 1983 Semperit Irish Car of the Year in Ireland.


  • Versions 1
  • Initial reception 2
    • Press evaluation 2.1
  • All-wheel drive 3
  • 1987 facelift 4
  • Body styles 5
  • Sierra model range 6
    • Drivetrain options 6.1
  • Sierras outside Europe 7
    • South Africa 7.1
    • New Zealand 7.2
    • Argentina 7.3
    • Venezuela 7.4
    • North America 7.5
  • Mechanicals 8
  • XR4i and other sporting models 9
  • Turbocharged versions 10
  • Changes during production life 11
  • Popularity 12
  • References 13


Photograph Version Sold from Sold until
Ford Sierra (Mk I) 1982 1986
Ford Sierra (Mk II) 1987 1989
Ford Sierra (Mk III) 1989 1994

Initial reception

At first, many found the design blob-like and difficult to accept after being used to the sharp-edged, straight-line styling of the Cortina, and it picked up nicknames such as "Jellymould" and "The Salesman's Spaceship" (the latter thanks to its status as a popular fleet car in the United Kingdom). Sales were slow at first - the situation being exacerbated by heavy discounting by Ford dealers of surplus Cortina stock in 1983. It was later in the Sierra's life that the styling began to pay off; ten years after its introduction, the Sierra's styling was not nearly as outdated as its contemporaries, even though all major competitors were newer designs, although the Sierra had been tweaked on several occasions and many new engines had been added. The most notable changes came at the start of 1987, with a major facelift and the addition of a Sapphire saloon. As other manufacturers adopted similar aerodynamic styling, the Sierra looked more normal.

Early versions suffered from crosswind stability problems, which were addressed in 1985 with the addition of "strakes" (small spoilers), on the rear edge of the rubber seals of the rear-most side windows. These shortcomings saw a lot of press attention, and contributed to early slow sales. Other rumours that the car hid major crash damage (in part true, as the new bumper design sprung back after minor impact and couldn't be "read" to interpret major damage) also harmed the car's reputation. This reached near-hysterical heights at one point with UK press making a report that Ford would reintroduce the previous Cortina model out of desperation. However, these reports were swiftly denied by Ford.

Additionally, earlier models used the 1.6 and 2 litre versions of the Pinto engine (as used in the Ford Cortina) paired with a 4-speed manual gearbox. At a time when the rival Vauxhall Cavalier was offered with a 5-speed option, this led to some critics commenting that the Sierra was somewhat underpowered. In the mid 1980s, many smaller cars (some even two sectors smaller) featured 5-speed gearboxes.

At its launch some of the Sierra's external styling differed depending on the specification. In place of the model's regular two-bar grille, which was unpainted on the lowest specification model, the Ghia featured a narrower blanked-off grille between wider, but still inset, headlights while the front bumper was also restyled and featured combined indicator/foglight units compared to the lower specification model's slimmer but wider indicator units. The XR4i had an identical front end to the Ghia, bar the bumper which was slightly different. The rear lights of the Ghia were the same shape and layout as other models, but featured tiny horizontal strakes on the lenses to give the impression that they were smoked. For the 1985 model year, all the lower spec models, except the base model, adopted the Ghia and XR4i's front grille and headlight treatment.

Press evaluation

In Europe's largest auto-market, the magazine Auto, Motor und Sport published, in December 1982, a three-way road test comparison involving the Sierra and its obvious competitors, the recently upgraded Volkswagen Passat and Opel Ascona (Vauxhall Cavalier Mk II in the UK). Then as now, a part of the magazine's comparison road test report was a comparison chart rating each of approximately 100 attributes of cars tested out of ten or twenty points (according to importance) and then ranking the cars tested according to the total number of points awarded. On this basis the Sierra tested in 1982 outranked both the Passat and the Ascona. The significance of this result was highlighted more than three decades later, in February 2015, when the magazine reported that no Ford model had beaten a Volkswagen under their road test criteria since the Sierra's "victory" in 1982.[8]

All-wheel drive

In 1985, at the Geneva Motor Show, the four-wheel drive Sierra XR4x4 was shown. It had two viscous differentials with two thirds of the power directed towards the rear wheels. This allowed for an extra margin of security on slick or snowy roads, while retaining the car's rear-wheel drive comportment.[9] This model originally only came equipped with the 2.8 litre V6 engine.

1987 facelift

In early 1987 the Sierra was facelifted. The front end was completely revised, with the biggest difference seeing the indicators now positioned above the bumper and to the side of a new headlight design. While the grille again remained blanked-off, UK, Irish and South African versions of the newly introduced saloon bodystyle, badged Sierra Sapphire, featured a unique shallow black grille between the headlights. That apart, all specifications of the Sierra now shared a common front end, compared to the car's original styling. The rear lights were slightly altered.

The XR4x4 was now based on the 5-door hatchback bodystyle and featured different front and rear body-coloured bumper styling, along with wider side rubbing strips. The RS Cosworth, from January 1988, was now based on the newly introduced saloon bodystyle and featured another style of front bumper as well as the black grille which was only found on UK versions of the saloon bodystyle. The RS Cosworth received more power and 4-wheel drive from January 1990. In addition, a roller cam engine was added in 1987 to prevent excessive wear to the cam.

From 1988 a Sierra-based pickup called the P100 was produced in Portugal for the European market, replacing the previous Cortina-based model.

On its launch in 1982, it was narrowly beaten to the European Car of the Year award by the Audi 100.[10]

The Sierra was Ford's answer to the similar-sized Opel Ascona (Vauxhall Cavalier in the UK), which had been launched a year earlier with front-wheel drive and a hatchback bodystyle. Unusually in its sector by that time, the Sierra was still rear-wheel drive. It was also a strong competitor for other rivals of the early 1980s, including the Talbot Alpine, Peugeot 505 and Morris Ital and the Citroën BX, but by 1988, it was competing with a host of new rivals, including the third generation Vauxhall Cavalier (Opel Vectra), Austin Montego, Peugeot 405, Renault 21 and Nissan Bluebird.

Body styles

Ford Sierra estate, with original aero design, and front panel of higher-specification models
1993 Ford Sierra Sapphire, the four-door saloon model that was added to the range in 1987, showing the grille latterly introduced to the front panel (on all body styles)

In another departure from tradition, the Sierra was initially unavailable as a saloon. At its launch it was available as a 5-door hatchback and a 5-door estate, and from 1983 as a 3-door hatchback. Until the launch of the Orion in 1983, the larger and more expensive Granada was the only saloon-bodied car available in the European Ford range.

During the life of the car, two different styles of 3-door body were used; one with two pillars rear of the door, looking very much like a modified 5-door frame, as used on the high-performance XR4i; and a one-pillar design used on standard-performance 3-door hatchbacks and also at the other end of the scale as the basis for the very high-performance RS Cosworth. At the time of the car's launch, both styles were already envisaged, and a demonstration model with one style on either side was displayed at a Sierra design exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The Ford Cortina had been manufactured in saloon and estate bodystyles but after the switch to the Sierra, combined with the redesign of the Escort to Mark III level in 1980 and the introduction of the Granada Mark III in 1985, Ford had changed its saloon-based line-up into a hatchback-based one.

The company launched the Ford Orion in 1983 to fill the gap in the saloon range between the late Cortina and the new Sierra. Ford found that customers were more attached to the idea of a saloon than they had expected, and this was further addressed in 1987 by the production of a saloon version of the Sierra. In the UK, this model was called the Ford Sierra Sapphire. This differed from the other Sierra models in having a traditional black grille, which only appeared in right hand drive markets. The 3-door Sierra was dropped in the UK in 1985, although the Cosworth version continued. Production of the 3-door Sierra continued in Europe, including after the Sierra range was given a facelift in 1987. The remodelled 3-door was never offered in the UK, having been withdrawn in 1984.

Sierra model range

Drivetrain options

The Sierra was available with a wide range of engines:

1300, 1600 and 2000 engines all have a 4-speed manual gearbox; a 5-speed manual gearbox was optional with 1600 and 2000 engines, and standard with the 1600 Economy engine, the 2300 and 2300 Diesel. An optional 3-speed automatic transmission was available with 1600, 2000 and 2300 engines.

There was no 1.3 version of the Sierra after 1986, while the 1.8 petrol engine was new to the range for the 1987 facelift, after which the smaller diesel units were phased in to replace the 2.3 diesel. The turbocharged 2.0 RS Cosworth engine featured on all three Cosworth versions of the Sierra; the three-door rear-wheel drive hatchback, the rear-wheel drive saloon, and the four-wheel drive saloon.

Sporting models utilized the 2.8 / 2.9-litre V6 engines coupled to a four-wheel-drive system (XR4x4) or a rear-wheel drive 2.8 XR4i. Both the 2.8 / 2.9 litre engines gave 150 bhp. And, more notably, the well known Cosworth model, which was powered by a turbocharged 16-valve 4-cylinder engine known as the YB which was based on the Ford 'Pinto' block. The Ford Sierra Cosworth was first introduced in 1985 as a three-door hatchback, with a 2-litre DOHC turbo engine producing 204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp). At the time Ford wanted to compete in group A touring cars and therefore eligible to produce a limited run of 10% of the initial production, therefore this would be 500 cars. this was known as an 'evolution' model. Ford employed Tickford to help with the development. The Sierra RS500 as it was known sported a small additional rear spoiler, and larger front chin spoiler, extra cooling ducts for the engine, brakes and intercooler. Under the bonnet a larger turbo and intercooler was fitted along with an extra set of injectors, so instead of the standard four injectors it was built with eight, although in road trim these extra injectors did not function. These modifications produced 225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp) in road trim and around 550 hp (410 kW) in race trim. They were very successful in motorsport and are highly tunable road cars with a very large following.

In 1987, Ford introduced a four-door saloon (marketed in the UK as the Sierra Sapphire), which was sold alongside the hatchback and estate until the Sierra was replaced by the Mondeo in early 1993. The last Sierra rolled off the production line in December 1992.

Sierras outside Europe

South Africa

In South Africa, the Sierra range featured both the five-door hatchback and station wagon bodies and production began at the Silverton (Pretoria) plant in January 1983.[11] The restyled Sierra range differed from its European equivalent by featuring the traditional black grille of the Sierra Sapphire sedan (known simply in South Africa as the Sapphire) on the hatchback and wagon. (Later, the grille would feature on these models in Europe.)

Versions sold in South Africa were available with the 1.6 (Kent) and 2.0 (Pinto) four-cylinders, 2.3 V6 (Cologne) or 3.0-litre V6 (Essex) petrol engines. While the Cortina MkV in South Africa had retained the old 3.0 V6 Essex engine, the Sierra was initially given the new 2.3 V6 Cologne motor, this being fitted to the top of the line model only. However, owing to the low cost of petrol, and the popularity of the old Cortina XR6, a Sierra XR6 was later launched, featuring the old Essex, initially producing 103 kW (138 hp).

Versions were LX, GL and GLX, the Ghia trim level was not available for the South African market except on the Ford Sapphire, the sedan version.

As the 2.8/2.9 Cologne was never launched in South Africa, the venerable and popular Essex V6 remained the best normal production engine fitted to the Sierra. At the top of the range, the 2.3 GLS quickly gave way to a 3.0 GLX flagship model (producing less power but more torque than the XR6) and that was the end of the Cologne in South Africa, even the station wagon receiving the 3.0 V6 Essex. By 1985, the Sierra had become the largest Ford model, following the demise of the Granada.

Towards the end of its production life, the Essex was modified again - the standard carb version tuned to produce 110 kW (150 PS; 148 hp) from 1991 to 1993, while a fuel-injected version was available from 1992 to 1993. Fitted to the Sierra as the 3.0i RS (replacing the XR6) and to the Sapphire sedan as the Sapphire Ghia (replacing the 3.0 GLX), the fuel-injected Essex put out around 117 kW (157 hp) and was the most powerful Sierra/Sapphire version sold in South Africa, excluding the small number of XR8s built for homologation purposes.

Uniquely, the South African market also saw the introduction of a 5.0 litre XR8 between June 1984 and 1988. A limited number of 250 Sierras were made for the purposes of homologation,[12] as this model was the premier Ford used in Group A racing. The XR8 was fitted with the 302 ci engine from the US Ford Mustang, and the Borg Warner T5 heavy duty transmission. Front brakes were AP Racing four-piston calipers on 280 mm discs. Max power is 209 PS (154 kW) and a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph) was claimed.[13] The XR8 is easily recognized by having four cooling slats between the headlights, whereas lesser versions were sold with the original smooth front.

The 1.6 Kent continued almost unchanged during the 9 year life of the Sierra/Sapphire, while the 2.0 Cologne was revised several times, being fitted to the Sierra 2.0 GL and GLE and later to the stripped down Sierra 2.0 LX and Sapphire 2.0 GL and GLE models. It eventually even received fuel injection in the Sapphire 2.0GLi, boosting the power from 77 kW (103 hp) to 85 kW (114 hp).

The Sierra was eventually replaced in South Africa by the Telstar in 1993. Samcor, which assembled Ford models under license after Ford had divested from the country, was already assembling the smaller Laser and Meteor, alongside the Mazda 323, on which they were based, as well as an earlier version of the Mazda 626. The Telstar was finally replaced by the Mondeo in 1998.

New Zealand

Whereas British buyers rued the absence of a saloon version of the Sierra, in New Zealand, it was the absence of an estate (a "station wagon" there) that customers missed, when Ford New Zealand replaced the Cortina with the Ford Telstar range. This led to Ford importing CKD ("completely knocked down") kits of the Sierra wagon for local assembly in 1984. The wagon was offered in 1.6- (base) and 2.0-litre "L" and "Ghia" models initially, and proved to be a strong seller. In one month in 1987, the facelifted Ford Sierra, by then a single station wagon model, was the country's top-selling car range.[14]

However, Ford cancelled the Sierra once Mazda, which developed the Telstar, could offer a station wagon. The Telstar wagon, while popular, never reached the Sierra's heights, especially its competition successes overseas. Further reasons could be customers' knowledge of the Telstar's Japanese roots, and that the equivalent Mazda 626 wagon offered a considerably longer warranty at a similar price.

Relative rejection of the Telstar forced Ford to import completely built-up (CBU) premium models built in Genk, Belgium from 1990: the Sierra 2.0 GLX Wagon, the Sierra Sapphire 2.0 Ghia and the XR4×4 were part of this range. The advertising copy read, "Introducing the new car that needs no introduction." However, a relatively high price did not help – the Wagon began at over NZ$31,000 – and production errors in the launch brochure showed cars with no steering wheels. Furthermore, any marketing boosts Ford could have gained through Group A touring car racing were over with the Escort Cosworth becoming the company's standard-bearer in competition (and the Escort, meanwhile, was absent from the New Zealand market).

The Sierra was withdrawn from the New Zealand market in 1992, and it would be another five years before its European successor the Mondeo would arrive there. Sierra Cosworth's remain sought-after performance cars.

By contrast, the Sierra was never sold in Australia, as there was less demand for a medium-sized wagon than in New Zealand, although the RS Cosworth/RS500 was used in the Australian Touring Car Championships from the late 80's and early 90's.


Ford Sierra Gl 1.6, basic (left) and top of the line, Ghia 2.3 (right) original design, in 1984.
1987 Ford Sierra 1.6 GL
1993 Ford Sierra SX Ghia, 2.3 120 cv top of the line, last lifting imitating in appearance to Ford Sierra Cosworth

In Argentina it was offered as a five-door hatchback beginning in the summer of 1984. A station wagon body style was added in September 1985.[15] The sporting XR4, with three-door bodywork arrived a couple of months after the original introduction. The face-lifted post-1987 model was built in Venezuela, but did not reach the Argentinian market until 1989, where the range continued with a Merkur XR4Ti-like grille until 1991 for XR4 and 1992 for five-door models, when it was replaced by the Volkswagen Santana-based Galaxy. Argentinian Sierras can be distinguished by a more sculpted front bumper with an extra cooling inlet.

The 1.6L was offered in GL model only, while the LX, Ghia, Ghia S/SX and XR4 were available with a 2.3 litre inline-four with some differences in specs. Both engines, as for the preceding Taunus TC3, were from the "Pinto" family. The power ranged between 75 PS (55 kW) for the 1.6 and 120 PS (88 kW) for the XR4 and later Ghia S versions.[15] Some Ghia models also featured automatic transmission as an optional. The station wagon was called the Sierra Rural — "Rural" being used for station wagons in Argentina in the same way "Turnier" is used in Germany.

The GL model was the base model replaced by the LX with the same equipment. The XR4 was eventually complemented by the five-door Ghia S/SX.


In Venezuela the locally assembled Ford Sierra was launched in 1985, the 2.8L V6 engine was standard is versions sold there, including the 4 door sedan (280ES), 3 door hatchback (280GT) and station wagon (Ranchera). In 1990 A face-lifted version of the Sierra, powered by the 2.9L V6 engine was offered as both a hatchback and a sedan, the latter being known as the Sierra 300 Sapphire. Also launched in Venezuela was the XR6i.

North America

1985 Merkur XR4Ti, showing front panel also used by pre-facelift Ghia models, and the three-door XR4's unusual combination of the long side doors from a three-door model and the five-door's rear quarterlight

In North America, the Ford Sierra and the Ford Scorpio were offered under the now defunct Merkur brand. The Sierra was imported as a three-door only, and called the XR4Ti (similar to sub-model designations in other markets). The Sierra name was not used by Ford in North America; the market had already seen the similar-sounding Oldsmobile Ciera, and the Sierra name was used and trademarked by General Motors Corporation from the 1970s as a trim level on its pickup trucks.

The car was offered from the start of the Merkur brand in 1985 until 1989. It was equipped as a rear wheel drive 2.3 L SOHC inline 4 cylinder (commonly known as the "Lima" engine) equipped with a Garrett T3 turbocharger and fuel injection.

Although offering the top selling XR model worldwide, the Merkur brand is claimed to have been a commercial flop. The reasons vary. Safety and emissions regulations in the U.S. forced Ford to make costly modifications, resulting in relatively high prices, coupled with the required addition of air bags for all 1990 and newer vehicles (not required in foreign markets) doomed the mark to an untimely end. Exchange rates also fluctuated too frequently. Moreover, since Merkurs were sold at LincolnMercury dealers, many customers were more attracted towards Mercury models, such as the Mercury Sable, which were similarly styled and had similar equipment for significantly lower prices.


Unlike many of its rivals, the Sierra retained rear-wheel drive, albeit with a modern, fully independent rear suspension, departing from the Cortina's live axle.

In the beginning the Sierra used engines and transmissions from the Taunus / Cortina. The engines were of two types, the SOHC Ford Pinto engine in 1.3, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0 L displacements, and the OHV Cologne V6 engine (in 2.3, 2.8, and 2.9 L capacities). Towards the end of the 1980s due to tightening emission standards, the Pinto engine began to be phased out-the 1.8 in 1988 replaced by a 1.8 CVH, the 2.0 in 1989, replaced with the Ford I4 DOHC engine and the 1.6 in 1992, replaced by the 1.6 CVH first seen in the Escort in 1980, described as a "CFi", a single point fuel injection system with a catalytic converter.The 2.9 L Cologne engine was available in the Sierra XR4x4 and the Sierra Ghia. Models with the 2.0 L and Cologne V6 engines had an option of a limited slip differential. Models built until 1989 used the type 9 gearbox that had been used in the Cortina, with the exception of 2WD Cosworth models that used the T5. The T5 had several variations, most were internal. This was basically the same transmission used in the Ford Mustang. The .80 overdrive gears were the weak link. It was later superseded by the MT75 unit (for DOHC, 4X4 and V6 models). All Sierras had rear drum brakes, except sporting models (2.0iS (some), 2.0 GLX & GLS, XR4x4, Sierra Cosworth, other special/sporting models inc 2.0i 4x4) and models with anti-lock brakes. American versions meanwhile were sold only with a 2.3 L four-cylinder turbocharged version of the Pinto engine.

The Sierra also had a diesel option on the engine, namely at launch the 2.3 L normally aspirated 67 PS (49 kW; 66 hp) Indenor diesel made by Peugeot. This engine was also used in contemporary Granadas and whilst reliable and economical it made an unrefined, noisy and very slow vehicle, but remained a popular option for Taxi firms. This was later superseded in 1990 by a 1.8 L turbocharged powerplant of Ford's own design which offered better response times and slightly more power. During the Sierra's production run the engine was known both as the Lynx and as the Endura-D, though was further rebranded as the 'Endura-DE' with the release of the second-generation Ford Mondeo.[16]

XR4i and other sporting models

1987 Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth

In 1983, the high-performance XR4i version was introduced. It utilised the same 2.8 L Cologne engine as used in the Ford Capri 2.8 Injection of that era and sported a restyled version of the 3-door Sierra bodyshell. The double rear spoiler and curious multi-pillared rear windows were considered over-styled by some prospective buyers, and the car never achieved the cult status of the smaller Fiesta XR2 and Escort XR3i. A version of the XR4i with a 2.3 L turbocharged engine was sold in the United States as the Merkur XR4Ti. The XR4Ti was raced in Europe, most notably by Andy Rouse who used one to win the 1985 BTCC.

In South Africa, there was a 3.0 L V6 version, called the XR6, also made in South Africa was a limited run of 250 V8 XR8s for saloon car racing homologation in 1984. These were based on the Ford Windsor 302 engine.

In 1985 the XR4i was replaced by the XR4x4, which was based on the five-door hatchback, had four-wheel drive and was powered by the same 2.8 L V6 engine. By the end of its production in 1990, 23,540 had been produced. From 1990 to 1993 the XR4x4 was available with both the revised 2.9EFi and 2.0 DOHC EFi engines. The XR4i also made a reappearance (as a badging exercise) in 5-door form but with the DOHC 2.0 engine instead of the V6.

In 1989, Ford nodded towards its past and created the Sierra 2.0i 2000E, a model name used with limited success on the Mk3 Cortina. The Sierra 2000E had two-tone metallic paint, alloys, light grey leather interior, and a trip computer in addition the standard features on the 'Ghia' models. It was only available in saloon form and a limited number of models were sold between 1989 and 1991. Ford used this to showcase the new DOHC twin cam engine which was also released in 1989.

In Argentina the non-injected XR4 model was equipped with the Taunus 2.3 engine and was produced between 1986 and 1991. In this market the most direct rival was the Renault Fuego 2.2.

In July 1986, a special version called the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth was launched, using the 2.0 OHC bottom end with a 16V DOHC cylinder head specially developed by Cosworth. With the Cosworth Garret T3 turbocharger and intercooler setup the engine produced 204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp). It was designed by Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) group and made in Ford's Genk factory in Belgium for use in group A. It was based on a three-door Sierra with the dashboard from the Merkur XR4Ti. The car was available in only white, black or Ford's 'Moonstone Blue' and only 5545 were made. The Sierra RS Cosworth was available in both right hand drive and left hand drive, the RS 500 was only produced in Right Hand Drive. Racing conversion were done with the European Merkur dashboard.

In 1987, a 225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp) Sierra Cosworth, the RS500, was sold alongside the regular version. Only 500 were produced as the minimum number of road-going cars required to meet with newly introduced homologation racing rules, allowing it to compete in evolution form for group A racing. The car was modified by the Tickford Engineering Company in conjunction with Ford. Revisions included uprated brakes and larger brake cooling ducts and modified front and rear spoilers (a second smaller rear spoiler was added beneath the large "whale-tail"), a modified front bumper to allow extra cooling for a larger intercooler, as well as various engine upgrades including a larger turbocharger and a second fuel rail (which did not operate on road models). Race outputs were as high as 550 bhp (410 kW; 558 PS), in which the Sierra dominated group A series around the world.

Racing versions of the Cosworth were highly successful in European and World Touring Car racing throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s', and the RS500 helped Ford to win the manufacturer's title in the 1987 World Touring Car Championship. Ford was forced to fall back on the Sierra for rallying from 1987, after the banning of the Group B formula. With only rear-drive, the Sierra struggled to compete on looser surfaces but was very quick on asphalt, Didier Auriol winning his first World Championship rally in a Sierra in Corsica, 1988. It was replaced by the 4x4 Sapphire version from 1990, which never managed to win a World Championship event but became a popular and successful car in national championships. The Sierra was replaced by the Escort Cosworth in 1993.

In 1988, a new Cosworth was produced which was based on the Sierra Sapphire saloon. 13,140 were produced until it was replaced in 1990 by a four-wheel-drive version, the Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth 4x4, of which 12,250 were built. Its replacement came in the form of the Escort RS Cosworth which appeared in 1992, which used a shortened and developed version of the Sierra platform and running gear but clothed with an Escort-esque bodyshell and the return of the whale-tail spoiler.

Turbocharged versions

Turbocharged versions of the Sierra were also available as post-production models from companies like Janspeed and, most notably, from Turbo Technics. The XR4x4 2.8 was available with a range of aftermarket kits pushing power from 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp) to over 200 hp (149 kW). The 2.9 got a twin-turbo setup, available with variants up to 280 hp (209 kW). Even the DOHC version got a single turbo kit, of which only a small number were made. Turbo Technics even sold their own pre-prepared Sierra known as the Minker; only a handful were ever produced, as they cost significantly more than Ford's own RS Cosworth.

In Finland, tax laws made the 1.3 L-engined Sierra an attractive business car in the mid 1980s. A number of these underpowered engines were turbocharged by local Ford dealers in order to gain 2.0 L engine power with 1.3 L tax fees to the owner of the vehicle. The 1.6 L and 2.0 L OHC engines were also turbocharged. Some of these "Stockmann Turbo" Sierras, called so after a major dealer that made the conversions, are still running today.

Changes during production life

After the major facelift of 1987, and the introduction of the DOHC engines in 1989, further changes to the Sierra were superficial. Some detail styling changes were made in 1990, when the dashboard styling was freshened up, the front was given clear-lensed indicators, the rear given smoked rear lamp lenses, the steering wheel redesigned and a new front grille was added, together with fuel injection as standard, 15-inch wheels and rear disc brakes. A further revision to the dashboard which saw a new instrument binnacle (similar in style to the 1990 Escort/Orion) along with colour and trim upgrades for the 1992 model year was the final change. UK production of the Sierra ceased, with right hand drive production moving to Belgium.

By the early 1990s, however, it had become clear that the Sierra had fallen out of step technologically against modern Japanese rivals which offered multi-valve engines and multi-link rear suspension. All of these features appeared on the Sierra's replacement, the front-wheel-drive Mondeo, which was unveiled at the end of 1992 and launched the following March.


The Sierra is the tenth most popular car to have been sold in Britain, with 1,299,993 units having been sold.[17] The first Sierras were sold in October 1982, and stocks lasted for around two years after the end of production - with more than 200 models being sold in 1994 and at least one example being sold in 1995 (in February as an M-registered model).


  1. ^ "Facilities | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  2. ^ "HIGHLIGHTS OF FORD NEW ZEALAND; Ford Motor Company Newsroom". Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  3. ^ a b "Ford Sierra". Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Road test". Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  6. ^ History of Ford in Ireland: Ford Family History & 1970 to Today.
  7. ^ RTÉ Archives
  8. ^ Heinrich Linger (5 February 2015). "Auto, Motor und Sport
    Lade der Nation: Deutschland ist ein KombiLand, rund 20 Prozent aller verkauften Autos gehoeren zu dieser Kategorie. Also tritt der neue Ford Mondeo als Kombi gegen den Bestseller in der Kombi-Mittelklasse an, den VW Passat. Wer bietet mehr, Turnier oder Variant?". Mention of the 1982 Sierra/Passat comparison road-test re-surfaced in a February 2015 comparison test involving diesel station wagon ("Turnier"/"Variant") versions of the  
  9. ^ Pagani, Pierre (April 1985). "Ford Sierra XR "4x4"". Echappement (in French) (Paris, France: Michael Hommell) (198): 68. 
  10. ^ "Previous winners". Car of the year. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  11. ^ Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 430.  
  12. ^ "Sierra XR8". Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985, p. 434
  14. ^ "the Persuader Blog: The missing wagon". Jack Yan. 2006-10-15. Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  15. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (9 March 1989). Automobil Revue 1989 (in German and French) 84. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. pp. 298–299.  
  16. ^ "Crustworld - Ford Sierra Online". 
  17. ^ "icLiverpool - Recession-proof wise-buys revealed". 2009-03-17. Archived from the original on 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
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