On the 22nd September 1982 Ford of Britain launched it’s replacement for the much loved conservative Ford Cortina to an unsuspecting public. Project Toni, designed by Uwe Bahnsen, Robert Lutz and Patrick le Quément, was unveiled as the Ford Sierra to a fair amount of public myrth and ridicule in the absence of much acclaim except in Ireland where the Sierra won the 1983 Semperit Irish Car of the Year award.
While there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the mechanical operation of the car much of which was inherited from the final incarnation of the Ford Cortina Mk 5, the styling, which was similar to the well received US Ford Probe, had been pushed a bit too far in the quest for aerodynamic efficiency leading to nick names for the Sierra like ‘the blob’ and ‘Salesmans Spaceship’.
Fortunately it was the salesmans fleet market which saved the model from sinking faster than the Edsel. The #3 above was an early leader in the 1987 Willhire 24 Hour race at Snetterton driven by Graham Scarbrough and David ‘Jess’ Yates who is standing with his back to the camera on the right.
In the spring of 1983 Stuart Turner head of Ford Motorsport Europe devised a plan to put Ford at the top of the new Group A saloon car championships which were run nationally and internationally in Europe. Above the #6 is driven by Graham Davis at Brands Hatch.
In the spring of 1983 Stuart Turner head of Ford Motorsport Europe devised a plan to put Ford at the top of the new Group A saloon car championships which were run nationally and internationally in Europe. Above the #24 is driven by Peter Sugden at Donington and shared with Roger ‘Willhire’ Williams in the 1989 Willhire 25 hours at Snetterton.
Lessons learned from Roush Racing in the USA and Andy Rouse in Britain with XR4Ti racing programmes were incorporated into the suspension while a reworked Sierra 3 door body designed by Lother Pinske was developed which featured a distinctive ‘tea tray’ rear wing deemed necessary to keep the rear wheels on the ground at speeds in excess of 186 mph.
5045 Ford Sierra Cosworths were manufactured in 1986, enough to qualify for International Group A and national Group N racing, in only three colours, all with a grey interior and with the only options being central locking and or electric windows. The racers seen here were all prepared to the lower state of tune Group N spec for the national Uniroyal and Firestone production car championships.
Keith Maxted is thought to be the driver of the #32 Goodyear Sierra RS Cosworth seen at Brands Hatch on April 23rd 1989, if you know different please chime in below.
My thanks to Alan Cox & Gregor Marshall at The Nostalgia Forum for their help identifying the drivers of the four racers.
Thanks for joining me on this ‘Turbo Toni’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !