It’s 25 years since Ford’s iconic Sierra Cosworth RS500 burst onto the world’s roads and racetracks and next month’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July) will pay homage to the winged wondercar. The RS500’s silver anniversary will be marked with two special touring car races plus a large display dedicated to both competition and showroom derivatives.
It was back in 1985 that Ford shocked the world by launching the original Sierra Cosworth – a turbocharged version of its basic family hatchback that came complete with a ‘whale-tail’ rear spoiler and ample performance to embarrass many a supercar.
Once 5000 of these ‘standard’ 150mph ‘Cossies’ had been produced, international Group A competition rules allowed Ford to develop an even hotter evolution version of which only 500 were needed to meet the homologation regulations – hence the introduction of the flame-spitting RS500 in August 1987.
Now armed with a bigger turbocharger plus a host of other aerodynamic and performance related upgrades, racing versions could develop more than 500bhp and were quick to make their mark in motor sport. In 1988 the RS500 dominated the European Touring Car Championship and won national titles in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Holland. It was in the coveted British Touring Car Championship, though, that the RS500 really earned its reputation with drivers such as Andy Rouse, Steve Soper and Robb Gravett enjoying a record unbeaten run of 40 consecutive victories between September 1987 and the end 1990 after which saloon car racing adopted a new non-turbo Super Touring formula.
Twenty five years on, those remarkable achievements will be showcased in two momentous Fuji Film Touring Car Trophy races to be staged at the Silverstone Classic. Marking the occasion, no fewer than five RS500s will head an impressive entry list that includes close to 50 of the world’s finest touring cars from 1975-1999 – and more are expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Among the RS500s already confirmed is Dave Brodie in his familiar ‘Run Baby Run’ Sierra, a regular BTCC front-runner back in the late Eighties.
Adding to the celebrations the RS Owners Club is putting together a large collection of more than 40 road and racing RS500s for display over the weekend.
“The RS500 is already part of motor sport folklore and we are thrilled to have so many participating at this year’s classic,” enthused event director Nick Wigley. “Watching the mighty Cossies racing against the more modern generation of Super Tourers is going to be every bit as intriguing as spectacular. The newer cars may be more advanced in terms of technology but with rear-wheel-drive and massive turbos the dramatic RS500s are sure to be huge crowds pleasers.”
Adult tickets for 2012’s Silverstone Classic powered by the AA (20-22 July) cost from as little as £35 and special two- and three-day weekend tickets are also available with savings of up to 20 per cent if purchased in advance. Full details are available via the event’s official www.silverstoneclassic.com website.