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RS Cosworth – 1986 to 1987

Feb 03,2006 Julian

The commitment was made to develop a Sierra RS derivative at the same time the Escort S1 Turbo was sanctioned. Ford intended to build on the well received V6 XR4i Sierra; however the power plant for such a machine remained a question mark until a privately prepared Sierra had been viewed at the Cosworth premises in Northamptonshire by Ford ‘Top Brass’. From this point the project really began to take shape and development moved on apace.

There were initial concerns about the effect and worth of turbo charging the Cosworth head, although ultimately it would prove essential in getting the engine to provide the kind of power required for Group A homologation purposes. Prototypes were in operation from 1984 and it’s interesting to note that most of these were still utilising the XR4i type body shell which featured three-side-windows, until it was decided to switch to the relatively unknown two-side-window shell that eventually made it to market. Release had been planned for the beginning of 1986, however a handful of pre-assembled cars made late in 1985 for promotional purposes threw up a few problems that delayed the official cars from reaching market until June the following year.

The final machine boasted ‘supercar’ performance with a top speed of around 145mph, from a 2-litre Garrett T03 turbocharged engine producing 204bhp and available at a price of £15,950! The car proved immensely popular offering performance and comfort of the highest order, and certainly proved the most desirable RS of it’s time, ultimately selling over 5000 units.

The three door bodyshell with aggressive styling and whale-tail rear spoiler gave the RS Cosworth a fearsome reputation, which it well deserved, for here was a car that punched well above its weight, and proved more than ably matched to some of the turbocharged Porsches if its generation. The car quickly gained iconic status similar to that of its Escort forebears and went down as the best ‘pocket-money’ super car of its day in terms of road use, whilst track and rally successes only strengthened the cars appeal worldwide.


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