Watch This and Understand Why a Creaky Old Ford Hatchback Is a Rally Legend

The Ford Sierra and its Escort successor aren’t exactly the best-remembered cars for road driving, judging by the glowing reception of the Ford Focus that took over their job. But enthusiasts still adore them, and they have the Cosworth versions to thank.


What you’re watching here is just a testing video for the Sierra RS Cosworth, the Group A race car that competed both in touring car racing and in full-on stage rally. It ended up giving its guts to the later Escort RS Cosworth, currently enjoying full-on Gymkhana treatment.

At the wheel is Ari Vatanen, the legendary champion who wrangled the then-ancient MK2 Ford Escort to a driver’s title in 1981 as a privateer. The man could wheel, as you’d know by reputation. And you’d know that from watching him get so much speed out of this 1987 Sierra. He’s off the ground as much as he is on, shooting fire as he goes.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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Something people constantly forget about the Escort is that they were, from day one, built to kick ass at rally.

- Engine displacement defined by “what’s legal for rally?” No, SERIOUSLY.
- Produced by the millions (making your homologation a complete joke)
- Extremely lightweight (a Mk1 weighs just 1700lbs, and NA 3rd gens easily drop below 2000lbs!)
- CHEAP and plentiful body panels, because there’s millions of them
- CHEAP and plentiful engine parts, because there’s millions of them

The Cosworth might have been a purpose-built monster for WRC, but the lower tiers? They weren’t running Cossies - too much money. They ran the RS2000's. Not Cosworth RS2000. The Escort MkV RS2000 with the 2.0L N7A engine producing 150BHP. And they dominated in both FWD and 4WD.