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Even Ford Motorsport liked to take on the role of Homebuilt Hero — in 1989 they arranged for a three-door 4wd Sierra Cosworth development car to be built.

In 1989, Boreham was playing catch-up in the rallying stakes. Group A had been imposed by the FIA from 1987, and Ford’s works car, the Sierra RS Cosworth, lacked the four-wheel-drive to make it competitive. A new model – the Sierra Cosworth 4×4 – would be launched in 1990, but Boreham had to start testing.

To save time, and well before prototype Cosworth 4x4s were made available, Motorsport developed its own one-off. To make this possible, Gordon Spooner’s Witham-based company was contracted to build a car with all the right stuff in the right place. 

Starting with an old works rally car – D373 TAR, which had been used in 1987 and 1988 (Ari Vatanen took second in the 1987 1000 Lakes, while in 1988 Carlos Sainz took fifth in San Remo and seventh in the RAC in it) – Spooner chopped off the entire front end, grafted a Sapphire Cosworth nose to it instead, then added a much-modified XR4x4/prototype Sierra Cosworth 4×4 driveline underneath. The Sapphire front end was needed so that all the cooling and installation problems could be sorted out.

4wd sierra cosworth

The result was a smart, and totally functional, four-wheel-drive development machine, with which Ford – especially with Stig Blomqvist driving it – could build up a lot of experience. Because it was strictly a one-off project, there were no rallies in which it could be entered to measure it against the dominant Lancias and Toyotas, but for Motorsport it saved almost a year. 

It was such an effective machine, with such good aerodynamics, that Motorsport asked if it could be put into production in 1990 in that form. Product Planning sadly turned this down, the result being that from 1990 every Cosworth 4×4 was a four-door saloon instead. Once its job was done in 1989-1990, D373 TAR was summarily broken up. Great memories, though.  

Words Graham Robson

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