Automotive history

Ad Break: When Sierras were rally cars, not investments

by Antony Ingram
3 March 2023 2 min read
Ad Break: When Sierras were rally cars, not investments
Photos: Antony Ingram

In these days of fast Fords selling for supercar money – we’re referring, in case you missed it, to the Sierra RS500 road car that recently sold for nearly £600,000 – you wonder whether those who modified them back in the 1980s and 1990s, or stripped, caged and raced them in period, ever wondered whether one day, bidders might elevate the price of an RS500 to double that of a Ford GT.

Gwyndaf Evans doesn’t seem like the kind of chap who’d care. While not renowned for it he probably wrapped a Sierra or two around a tree at some point, shrugged it off, and came back at the next event with a fresh car, ready to take victory.

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This 1991 newspaper and magazine advert describes just such a win, with Evans and co-driver Howard Davies taking the Sierra Cosworth 4×4’s first Group N victory on the 1990 Lombard RAC Rally, held in late November. Just saying that rally’s name invokes a flush of nostalgia, but the picture of the Cossie in Q8 Oils livery does too, even if the black and white ad doesn’t show it off to best effect.

Ford advert for 1990 RAC Rally

The ad repeats the old refrain about Evans being a bus driver in his native Wales, though in 1991 it was probably less repetition and more fresh information. Evans rallied with Ford from 1987, contesting a trio of RAC Rally events in a Sierra Cosworth, then another trio in the Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 that followed it.

He’s perhaps best known for his exploits in the British Rally Championship, a series he won in 1996 at the wheel of another Ford, the front-wheel drive Escort RS2000, before moving to SEAT and giving the by-then dominant Renault team a run for its money. His son, Elfyn Evans, has been competing in the WRC for a decade now – several of those years, quite appropriately, in Fords. We’re not sure if he’s ever driven a bus.

The appeal of Group N was its similarity to road cars. Indeed, that was the whole point of it, with Group N models effectively road cars modified primarily in terms of safety and endurance. The better a road car was – like the Sierra Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 – the better the rally car. 220bhp and all-wheel drive also made them a bit of a favourite of the criminal underworld, just as the Subaru Impreza became later in the 1990s, but thankfully those days have long passed. [They’ve gone up in the world and are pinching Range Rovers now – Ed.]

While it was an RS500 that really made headlines at the recent Race Retro sale by Silverstone Auctions, it didn’t escape our attention that a 1990 Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 also broke the £100k mark (though another went for a seemingly more sensible £31,542).

Nobody’s going to be rallying that one, but we dare say these cars wouldn’t be worth quite as much were it not for the exploits of Evans and co back in the ’80s and ’90s.

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