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The original Ford Sierra RS Cosworth was the first Ford to wear the Cosworth badge and was presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985. It was introduced as a means of homologating the Sierra for 'Group A' Touring Car racing, with a requirement that 5,000 cars were built and sold. Launched for sale in July 1986 and based on the three-door Sierra body-shell, it was designed by Ford's Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) and was powered by a Cosworth-designed 2.0-litre turbo engine of now-legendary repute. At this time, the Sierra Cosworth was a new kind of performance car - a ‘blue-collar hero’ able to humble true sports cars!
In total 5,545 cars were produced - of which 500 were sent to Aston Martin Tickford for conversion to the Sierra RS500 Cosworth. If the RS Cosworth was a homologation car, the RS500 was an evolution special. Once Ford had built the requisite 5,000 RS Cosworths, Group A rules allowed an upgraded evolution model to be launched. This could carry changes focused on improving its racing potential, provided Ford sold 10% of the original number as road cars, hence the 500. The RS500 was announced in July 1987 and had a mechanically uprated Cosworth engine (more similar to the one to be used in competition), with power boosted to 224bhp, upgraded brakes, modified bodywork and the cachet of being hand-assembled - the RS500 really is the ultimate 1980's Fast Ford! Indeed, during the model’s 30th anniversary year in 2017, the RS500 was named the ‘Ultimate Cosworth’ by one of the UK’s biggest one-make car shows.
The car presented here is where the legend started. This is a very important Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth, 1 of only 4 prototype cars used for developing the model, build #003. All 4 examples were white and followed sequential registration numbers, all being registered at The Ford Motor Company, Brentwood on the same day before going to Bedworth, the home of Tickford. #003 was used to homologate the Turbo/intercooler/engine enhancements and is the example shown in the FISA documentation.
These test cars were supposedly never destined to survive past the development phase, but they did, with varying degrees of integrity and mystery. They were tested thoroughly by Tickford and often had various components swapped and upgraded etc. Interestingly, after ‘using’ various test engines, our understanding is, that #003 ultimately came to be fitted with the engine from build #010, an early example road-car that Steve Soper was given by Ford and which he subsequently returned in 1987. This particular engine had been specially tuned by Eggenberger Motorsport and was deemed bullet-proof by RS500 experts. #003 has had numerous visits to Ford specialists Graham Goode and a recent service/overhaul/inspection confirmed the engine’s link to Eggenberger Motorsport, with GG38610 (the number associated with #010 according to Tickford records) being stamped on the cylinder block.
Originally owned by the Ford Motor Company (as per the original V5 document), it was retained by them in storage until 1989 before being sold. In June 1989, #003 was offered for sale through Hensley Ford in Walsall and bought by a Mr Baurbour. It was later sold again in 1993 to a Mr Hanson of Scunthorpe (at 47,000 miles), who used it up to 56,000 miles. Subsequently, it was purchased in early 1995 by Darren Barber, one of the most knowledgeable RS500 experts in the UK and a long-standing RS Owners’ Club member. He kept and maintained it fastidiously for 17 years and during his research into the car's history with help from former Tickford employees, it is understood, that during the development testing, #003 suffered offside front damage, but was subsequently repaired, in period, to the highest of standards.
Our vendor, a former owner of another very special RS500, bought #003 from Darren in 2012, again keeping it as part of a small collection of special cars and using Graham Goode for servicing and maintenance. It's supplied with an extensive history file, servicing schedule, invoices and the book pack.
This really is an RS500 for the enthusiastic collector, and a chance to own a piece of Ford's history.