By on June 27, 2016

1989 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth

An alternate title I briefly considered: Digestible Collectible: Brexitopia!

I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about the state of international politics beyond what I’ve read here on TTAC, or a few brief articles around the web. While I have my doubts that the world will end because of the “Leave” vote, I’m happy to remain relatively ignorant.

That said, I’m happy to take advantage of the sudden, favorable exchange rate drop, and of course hit the web to see what interesting stuff might be imported.

I’m no forex expert, but the exchange rate (at this writing on Sunday, June 26) is at .731 GBP to $1 US, compared to .666/1 last Thursday and .635/1 in August (all figures from x-rates.com)

A brief glance out the window of my home office reminds me that my driveway is woefully barren, with representatives from only two of the Detroit Big 2.5. Naturally, I need a Ford to fill the gap, and since we seem to love the Blue Oval around this place, I need to fit in with something from Dearborn.

Or Belgium.

Since the Focus RS is finally washing up on our Atlantic beaches, I hit eBay UK trolling for an old-enough RS badge. This gleaming white 1989 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth immediately caught my eye. With a stout Cosworth turbocharged YB four-cylinder under the hood powering the rear wheels, this could be the family sedan of my dreams. It’s basically new with about 77,000 miles on the odometer.

It’s the family sedan of my dreams, except there are no cupholders. I’d rather my kids not spill on the Recaro seats.

That exchange rate is enticing, though. At today’s rate, the 12,695 GBP asking price is about $17,367 US. At last August’s one-year low, this same Sierra would have cost me about $19,992. That $2,600 difference should pay to get it across the ocean and into my driveway.

Chris Tonn is the Large Editor at Large for Car Of The Day, a classic-car focused site highlighting cool and unusual finds.

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32 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 1989 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    I love the front end on those. I want to put that front clip on the ugly Merkur version we got. I’d go with Ford and Sierra badges to complete the look.

    I think that front end was specific to the Sierra Sapphire sedan, but it’d look great on a hatch IMO.

    Nice find, man.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      By the looks of it,when they brought the Sapphire (the sedan) out, they restyled the rest of the range as well, to basically have a grill-less version of this front end. I’m really fond of the Merkur front end, but it would have been looking really dated by that time, and I don’t see it working on the sedan. The refreshed Sierras look alright depending on trim, but I think you’re right that the grill’d front would suit them (I swear I’ve seen it before).

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      If you squint, it kinda looks like a Primera/G20 (doubtlessly intentional).

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Oh, of course its intentional, since this car was produced for 1988-1989, the Nissan Primera was new for 1990. Obviously Ford used their time machine to jump ahead to see what Nissan was gonna do so they could copy it in advance.

        The regular Sierra had those headlamps since 1987 and a similar grille since 89ish (could’ve been earlier on some, maybe like the Sappire in particular, I’m not sure).

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    When they were first introduced i read up on them and saw that were seriously fast cars and priced cheap enough to buy . I never got to drive one until 1992 but it was everything I expected. Incredibly fast and so nice to drive. But… if you are in the market for one Beware!!! clones are a big industry in the UK for the unwary. never even think of buying a sapphire without first getting a specialist report on it ,otherwise you could be buying a clone.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available.”

    All right – who did it?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In ‘Spender’ the great British police drama series of the early 1990’s the lead character played by Jimmy Nail drove a Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth. The car and the fact that he used a cell/mobile phone were two key aspects to the show (talk about technological change!). The production team had to hire a security guard for the vehicle after the first one was stolen.

    Set in Newcastle it had wonderful ratings and reviews but has to my knowledge never been released on DVD, Netflix, etc. And to most North American ears the Geordie accent is totally incromprehensible

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Its contemporary “A Touch of Frost” gave the main detective character a late-’80s Sierra in the early seasons. Absolutely no pretensions to sportiness, those pale blue Sierras were kept deliberately mungy as befit the character’s aggressively scruffy persona.

      Shame, I love those big, solid liftbacks. Wish they’d caught on here.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    All that asking price, and no interior photos! Makes me mad. I’m not a big fan of this in white. The graphite color Clarkson had in Top Gear was much better looking. Speaking of which, he got his for I think <3,000GBP and it looked at least decent, and scored the highest on the ADAC evaluation in Germany. This one seems a bit overpriced.

    Interesting to consider that at the time, this was a sales reps GTI option.

    Also, I'm sure for quite a lot less money you could find a Merkur Scorpio somewhere, which would be pretty similar?

    Next do the Lotus Carlton.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      The Sierra was our Merkur XR4TI (only available as a 3 door hatchback), the Merkur Scorpio (5 door hatch) was the same as Ford Scorpio, a larger “executive” car.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        See, so you’ve two options! Why not go for the executive? The answer to “How much car?” is always “More.”

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Except the Scorpio came with that awful Cologne V-6 engine.

          I wonder how hard it would be to stuff a 200 hp 3.0L Duratec longitudinal in the Scorpio? I knew a guy who made custom bellhousings for mating a T-5 to the Duratec and/or Vulcan. I met him when toying with the idea of a Vulcan-powered Pinto.

          A Scorpio on my favorites list: http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/5627742509.html check out those seats! As if for shuttling the Queen herself!

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            (Since I don’t have permission to edit.)

            I just thought of the Lincoln LS. The V-6 was pretty much a RWD tuned Duratec. Aside from how unreliable the auto was, the Getrag manual is worth saving in an LS since it is quite rare and desirable.

            Maybe finding a V-6 LS with other issues as a parts car would be the way to go in correcting the Scorpio’s engine woes. Their values tank when something big goes on the 4th-5th owner, then its sub-$1500 craigslist fodder.

            I wouldn’t use the V-8. I would sooner go with something more Ford in origin (and probably much easier), like the Intec 4.6L from the Mark VIII or a 5.0L. But, I would rather keep it a V-6, honestly.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      They’ve gone up in value since Clarkson had his, but £12k is still pretty strong money for a Sapphire Cosworth. KGF – the vendors of this car – are known for selling relatively ordinary cars from the 1980s and 90s at inflated prices, with the help of brightly lit photos and some florid prose in their adverts. The Barrett Jackson of the UK, perhaps.

      Insurance costs were the killer for this car. I’m pretty sure that it held the unwanted title of “most stolen car in the UK” for several years. Most insurers wouldn’t touch a Cosworth unless the car had a tracker and other security upgrades.

      Great car, a real blue collar hero car on this side of the Atlantic. Was perhaps the nearest thing we got to a Regal GNX, and like the GNX, there are far more Sierra Cosworth replicas than real cars.

      Where’s Sajeev? He’ll love this.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Sajeev isn’t allowed to comment on white cars. I saw that written somewhere!

        I thought the blue collar hero car was the Capri! Isn’t this a bit too poncy for blue collar assignment, since it’s a reps car?

        • 0 avatar
          spreadsheet monkey

          The Capri went out of production in 1986, so I guess the Sierra/Sapphire filled its shoes to some extent as a halo product for Ford in Europe.

          I was born in the late 70s, so I’m probably not qualified to comment on all these 80s cars.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh, I thought it was around for much longer than that. We got a super awesome Mercury Capri in the US – built in Australia by some people who didn’t give a crap.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Lotus-Carlton-3-6-4dr-NUMBER-880-/321814837441

    :D The first two model years are already eligible for import.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I think Sanjeev is restoring one of these for Sajeev, right? It’s been a long time since he has humble bragged on his project, so I am guessing it has reached the stasis point where some bizarrely-engineered German idea has monkey wrenched the project. Or not. Possibly just regular chaos?

  • avatar
    Sam Hall

    I wish Ford would make something along this line again. About the size of a Focus, maybe an extra inch or two in the back seat, rear drive with a six-speed for about $22-28k. I’d buy one.

    (I know, I know .. ‘sure you would, you’d park it right next to your brown manual diesel wagon, right?’)

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      Ignoring the RWD requirement, Ford already makes the Focus ST…

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hall

        I’m weird. I don’t want the balls-out car for my daily commute and kid-taxi duties. My ideal is basically a rear-drive Focus with the 1.0L Ecoboost and a stick.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Vinyl seats and roll your own windows?

          I jest, but really I thought a car like that could come from Toyota of all places.

          Shorten and cheapen the GT86 platform (cheaper suspension, brakes, etc) with an economy I-4 and a manual, basic interior, DX model with vinyl/plastic/rubber everything. Durable hard plastics in a simple, straight-forward design (dash, consolette). Call it Tercel. Yes, I know the Tercel was FWD, but I like it. Fine, if you wanted to call it Starlet, I guess that’s okay lol. Or Tercel-Starlet?

          Make a Hybrid version, a coupe, sedan, 3 door hatch. Styling similar to 79-81 Tercel, early 80s rwd Corolla (body but not bad). I think it could work. Certainly more interesting than the Yaris, no?

  • avatar
    SavageATL

    Ya know, the definition of “collectible” is not, this is a neat car, but there are people out there who want it an are willing to pay more than they would pay for an average car of that age and mileage. If nobody has heard of the car or really wants to buy it, it’s not really collectible no matter how neat/rare it may be.

    Across the pond this may be famous and collectible but over here no one will have heard of it, no one will know how to fix it, and no one will have parts for it. Per wikipedia 204 hp in a 2,653 lb car, which is a great power to weight ratio, but you have 25+ year old plastics, 25+ year old body, 25+ year old electrics . . . in what looks like the Tempo’s uglier sister. Almost 20K? for performance you can M3/m5/saabaru. You’ll take this thing (when it’s running) to car shows and people will nod and be nonplussed at what it is or why it costs so much and you’ll never get your money back.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “…why it costs so much and you’ll never get your money back.”

      You need to check out other Digestible Collectible entries, then come back and revise your comment. You’ve missed the point here.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The value is all sentimental and no logic applies. Same reason I want to import a Toyota Caldina GT-Four (and keep it stock) in the next few years. Or if I had more money and less brains, import a Ford Puma since I love how those look and put something a bit more powerful under the hood.

      Then again 660 pounds for this… Just became legal to import to Canada http://www.autotrader.co.uk/used-cars/ford/puma/used-ford-puma-1-6-3dr-dumfries-fpa-201606255248543

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      You might be surprised how many non-USDM parts can be found on RockAuto…

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        RockAuto is on my sh!t list presently, as they have Cadillac parts marked incorrectly in their catalog – it apparently has a hard time telling 4.9L parts from 3800 parts.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    Sanjeev….I dare you to find a clean a late 80s Pontiac Sunfire GT turbo!!!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The turbo Cosworth Sierra made the basis for a great race car. Back when we had Group A racing, the Sierra Cosworth ate and gave the V8s a good run for their money.

    They also looked great. Dick Johnson raced a Sierra that was painted Kermit the Frog green, Disgusting!

    Nice car.

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