Used Ford Sierra
Launched in 1982 under the slogan 'Man and machine in perfect harmony', the Ford Sierra met with a mixed reception to begin with. It had replaced the much loved Cortina and its 'jelly mould' styling wasn't to everyone's taste.
There were three and five door hatchbacks at launch, estates came a little later. Saloons (officially called Sapphire) were added to the range in 1987. Specialist versions included the sporty XR4i, the powerful RS Cosworth and a four-wheel drive XR4x4 version. Aside from the four-wheel drive versions Sierras were rear-wheel drive, based on the Cortina and therefore relatively simple mechanically.
A facelift in 1987 saw a redesigned front end with the indicators relocated from the bumpers to the wings. This also saw a common front end introduced across all trim levels whereas on early cars Ghia models had a blanked off grille and larger headlights. Production ended in 1993 when the car was replaced by the Mondeo. There's a thriving owners club for people who see the cars as future classics.
Bang for your buck
As usual with Fords there's a plethora of trim levels and you can get everything from a humble family hatch to a hairy-chested sports car. Engines ranged from 1.3-litre petrol fours up to 2.9-litre V6s and there are a few 1.8 turbo diesels around too. Early cars will now mostly have been scrapped and had their drive trains borrowed for kit cars. The majority still around will be 1.8 or 2.0-litre hatches and they make sensible budget transport, cheap to run and easy to fix.
The Sierra was a popular fleet car and may then have gone on to life as a minicab so high mileages are commonplace. Estates will have had a hard early life selling photocopiers before becoming transport for handymen and window cleaners.
What you'll pay
The majority of Ford Sierra cars for sale will be at the banger end of the market and you should pay according to condition. Most will be under £1,000 but a cherished low mileage example might stretch towards £2,000. The sportier models are slipping into classic status and you'll pay a corresponding premium if they're in good condition. A well cared for RS Cosworth can command a five figure sum.
What to check
Sierras are rugged mechanically but check for oil leaks and smoky exhausts. Check too that all of the electrics like windows and central locking are working correctly. Turbo cars can be temperamental and 4x4s suffer from worn transmissions. Sierra odometers only read up to 99,999 so mileages over this won't show.
As you'd expect parts are plentiful and not too expensive. A clutch assembly will be around £80 and an alternator £65. A full exhaust is about £75 and a starter motor about £100. Body parts are reasonable too with around £60 for a front wing, £75 for a windscreen and £45 for a tail light.
How it drives
The used Ford Sierra was the last of the mass-produced rear-drive family cars. Compared to its front-drive contemporaries like the Vauxhall Cavalier it always handled quite well though, but was looking outdated by the end of the '80s. It will cope well with motorways and A-roads and provide a comfortable, relaxed drive. The crosswind instability of early cars isn't a problem on later versions.
Late models are quite well equipped with decent stereos – cassette of course – and electric windows. Many cars had sunroofs fitted from new. The cockpit is well laid out with everything close to hand and the front seats are comfortable and supportive.
The Ford Sierra for sale does most things quite well and nothing really badly so although it may not set your heart racing its effective everyday transport.
It's hard to believe now but the Sierra was a gamble for Ford. Early sales were disappointing and the company lost ground to the Cavalier. Only with the 1987 facelift did the Sierra become a car that people really wanted to buy. In many ways though it was a milestone as it marked the end of boxy 1970s styling in favour of a more streamlined look. Now it makes a simple, reliable and honest second hand choice. Buy well and it could be a future classic.