1980s / 1990s / Ford / Future classic / German

Is the Ford Sierra a future classic?

ford-sierra-5The medium-sized Ford Sierra was revolutionary in a number of ways when it landed in showrooms across Europe in late 1982.  Previewed by the futuristic Probe III concept that was presented at the 1981 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Sierra’s aerodynamic silhouette placed it lightyears away from the aging Cortina and Taunus that it was tasked with replacing

Although it acquired design house Ghia in 1970, Ford had a reputation for building solid cars that were well-engineered but that always packed a sizable amount of classicism. The Sierra was arguably Ford of Europe’s most daring design in over a decade, especially because at its launch it was only offered as a hatchback with either five or three doors.  This proved problematic for Cortina drivers who had grown accustomed to the more traditional four-door setup.

In the end, the gap between the Cortina / Taunus and the Sierra was too large and buyers in England pouted the new model, sometimes giving it the unflattering nickname “jelly mold.”   The car was a little more successful in continental Europe and it even won several awards in Germany.

A facelift and the addition of a four-door model called Sierra Sapphire successfully turned the car’s career around and it wasn’t the complete flop that Ford execs feared it would be in the months following its launch.

Medium-sized Fords of any vintage are a rare sight at car shows in Europe.  Will the forward-thinking Sierra earn the distinction of being the first large Ford to be sought after by car collectors?

9 thoughts on “Is the Ford Sierra a future classic?

  1. Yes, yes, yes!! My parents owned an 85 2.0L wagon from 88-91 and i learnt to drive in it. I liked it so much i went on to own three successively between 1994 and 2000. All wagons: 84 2.0L, then an 87 2.0L, and lastly my favourite, an 86 2.0 Ghia. All NZ-assembled. Swore at them, swore by them, miss them all. Still one of my favourite cars ever – love the styling inside&out. For the styling alone the Sierra was a classic the day it was released! 🙂

      • Great! But I guess we all think the car we learnt to drive in was great lol. Although my first car in 1991 was actually a 1971 Ford Escort, as Sierras were still way too expensive second-hand. Sierras were a mixed bag to drive really – there was not-so-great stuff, but it was more than made up for by great stuff.

        Not-so-great stuff included vibration; the semi-electric carb on the Mk I; the auto transmission (smooth but all mine blew their rear seals multiple times); and a too-narrow gait on the 5-speed manual (too easy to change from 2nd to 5th instead of 3rd). Oh, and it doesn’t affect the driving, but the dashboards warped and cracked horrendously.

        Everything else was great though! The were quick (not the autos!) and very economical – the LPG 5-speed regularly returned 42MPG on trips.
        The steering was excellent (provided it wasn’t vibrating!), and the real achievement was an excellent ride-handling balance. They were a comfortable and cohesive vehicle to drive.

        That is of course a subjective opinion, and is intended to be taken in the context that they were excellent for the time and for what they were. But the ultimate test for me of any older car is would I drive one daily today? Yes I would happily drive a Sierra today – and I can’t say that for the Honda Accord I replaced my last Sierra with!.

  2. Yes, future classic.

    If I recall correctly, there once was an episode of Top Gear a long time ago where the designer of the Sierra explained that he had the Porsche 928 in mind when he designed the Sierra. And you can see it if you look at the side of the three-door XR4i with it blacked out B pillar.

  3. These are already appreciating in value somewhat in the UK, especially the XR4i and other high-performance versions. It is incredible how quickly they all seem to have disappeared – although the first and second generation Mondeos that replaced them have also all but disappeared now!

    • Good to hear that they are starting to go up in value, they have all but disappeared here, too. The blue one is the first first-gen model I’ve seen in over a year, I think.

      I think first-gen Mondeos are even less common here, they were not particularly popular when new.

  4. Scott is quite right about the steering, ride and performance, particularly with 2.0L + engined ones. One of a fast-declining number of RWD launches in the mid-80s. A really stand-out car when it was launched. One regret is that the purity of the early models’ looks was compromised, as Ford so often does, by later trim changes. Yes, the Sapphire booted variant pretty much took over – the company car market demanded a boot – but it never looked as good.

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