TTAC Project: The Zombie Sierra

Mike Solowiow
by Mike Solowiow

I’m going drifting. I’m going drifting dressed in the finest English brown velour ever to roll out of Dagenham, England. I’m going drifting in what this week’s Curbside Classic should have been, a 1983 Ford Sierra. And with that, I rejoin TTAC after a long hiatus due to our wonderful country sending me to various deserts to hunt for Osama bin Laden.

I have survived, although my Hilux did not after one ill-placed Taliban rocket sent shrapnel through the radiator. I also relish returning to write for one of the finest audiences I know, the Best and Brightest.

Sajeev “Piston Slap” Mehta and I concocted a plan worthy of poetic balads (or at least a YouTube auto-tune) late this Friday night. We were commenting on how the Ford Tempo really should have been the Ford Sierra. Ford did eventually import the Sierra in the Merkur XR4ti guise in 1987, yet, how successful would the Sierra have been should they have built it from the start in the United States back in 1984? It was RWD, had independent suspension on all four corners, came with a wide variety of engines, looked great, and sported the finest shades of brown that year, specifically “Rio Brown”. Horsepower ranged from 59bhp in the 1.3L Pinto to 201bhp in the Cosworth. Ford could have used the 2.0L four-cylinder, and the 2.8L fuel-injected Cologne V6, and had a real winner on its hands.

Instead, Ford graced us with the Tempo, and lost money on the expensively imported, and mismarketed Merkurs.

Sajeev and I continued to talk while perusing the classifieds in the United Kingdom, the source of my recently purchased, and absolutely mint condition 1986 Peugeot 205 GTI (more on that later). Sodding a lark, I discovered the holiest of holies. An unmolested, low-mileage, one-owner, completely rust free, Rio Brown Ford Sierra 2.0L. Ghia optioned, with the rear curtains intact. The brown velour interior might surround an automatic gearbox lever, but no matter, we decided we have plans for this most humdrum, but ultimately awesome (and aerodynamic!) vehicle.

Sajeev possesses several 5.0L Ford V8’s. And an intact Thunderbird Turbo parts car. I have the ability to purchase and register a European car in Germany, and have it exported. The planets aligned. The first TTAC project vehicle has come together. And at this point, we need your suggestions, yes, the Best and Brightest shall have some input on how awesome, or terrible, this vehicle shall become. Which V8, turbo 4, or even V6 (SHOtime?) shall we use?

I say a 5.0L Mustang engine with a manual gearbox conversion. Sajeev suggests the GT-40 infused 5.0L and electronic-automatic duo from an Explorer. I say full custom aftermarket coil-over suspension to handle the power. Sajeev wants OEM-spec Ford Cosworth bits from England. The “Sierra of Brownshire” should arrive in Texas in late-winter, after I return from Operation Enduring Freedom, allowing you, the B&B plenty of time to convince of our course of attack, and us enough time to come to our senses.

EDITORS NOTE: We posted one shot of the (so Brown!) Sierra Ghia in question on our Facebook page for comments and queries. Facebook Fans, here are your answers:

Kevin M: Goofy-fun daily driver is the intention, as it is a 5-door hatch. Though the Sierra’s 2700lbs curb weight will make it super fun to drive, if we spring for aluminum heads to keep the 5.0 as light (?) as the stock iron motor. Rob A: the exchange rate won’t let that happen, its not gonna be a $500 LeMons car anyway. James M: No, this is not Cammy Corrigan’s car, she wouldn’t be caught dead in a Sierra Ghia! Scott M: we don’t have a ‘busa motor lying around, plus there are several 5.0 Merkurs rattling around the Internet for proof.

Mike Solowiow
Mike Solowiow

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  • MaintenanceCosts Why do you have to accept two fewer cylinders in your gas engine to get an electric motor? (This question also applies to the CX-90.)
  • Zipper69 Do they have unique technology that might interest another manufacturer?
  • Ger65690267 The reason for not keeping the Hemi is two fold, one is the emissions is too high, it would need a complete redesign to make it comply. The other is a need for a strong modern 6 cylinder within Stellantis portfolio of vehicles moving forward.They decided they rather invest in a I6 turbo which is designed to incorporate future electrification systems and not also updating their V8 engine. Unlike both GM & Ford, a brand constantly pushing smaller displacement turbo engines has decided to still keep V8s in their truck line up, because they know it's important to their core customers.GM has invested billions for their next gen small block V8s and Ford has already updated their 5.0L V8. However, Dodge and RAM which is a brand built on the Hemi name and having a V8 has decided to drop it. I think it's clearly a strategic misstep for RAM not to do the same for their trucks, Chargers/Challengers going forward.Stellantis relies heavily on the profits from their NA operations, I think they may not fully understood how important the Hemi was in their 1500 class trucks. On a side note, no one in the media seems to be noting that while the Hurricane S.O. puts out more hp/torque to the outgoing Hemi, that for some reason has lost both towing and payload capability.  
  • Ajla I'm going to whine about it. It should have a V8 available. Preferably a new one but at least offering the old one as a mid-level option. That this brand new engine outperforms something introduced 2003 and last updated in 2009 doesn't impress me. Also, journalists seem to be unaware that it is possible to add forced induction to a V8.
  • Calrson Fan I'll say it again, terrible business model doomed to fail. If your gonna build an EV PU the only market that makes sense to go after is fleets. How many other BEV companies are making money pushing only truck type vehicles?