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1985 Ford Sierra XR8 – Classified of the Week

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By Chris Pollitt

When you think of a fast Ford it’s only natural for your mind to wander into the halls of Cosworth. Yes, we had the XR models, but it was the mighty RS Cosworth Sierras with their sixteen valves and their turbochargers that took the crown. They were the stuff of legend, and have since earned a devoted and passionate following. A good Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth can easily run to £25k these days. Three-door models can break double that without so much as a fine misting of sweat. Oh yeah, the Sierra RS Cosworth is hot property. But what if you want a raucous Sierra but without the RS badge? What do you buy then? Well, you could search for a rare Turbo Technics version, or perhaps an even rarer Minker. Or, you could go through the back catalogue of Ford South Africa and buy this, the fabled XR8

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This isn’t a normal XR, nor is it some sort of home brew special. The XR8 was a very real offering for Ford of South Africa, where apparently lunacy ran riot in the design office. On top it’s a normal Sierra, though there are some clues that all is not as it seems. The bonnet vents, the flared front arches, the front grille. The two-tier rear spoiler also hints at this car being powerful. And it is. Under the bonnet you won’t find an inline-four, you won’t find a V6 either, but you will find a thumping great V8 – a 302 cubic-inch small block – from a Mustang. This is mated up to a five-speed Borg Warner T5 manual ‘box. And being a great big V8, it kicked out a thoroughly underwhelming 200 or so bhp. But that’s fine. What it lacks in grunt it makes up for in noise, and that’s why you buy a V8. Don’t pretend it isn’t.

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Only 250 XR8s were built, so as to satisfy homologation rules in Group A racing. That makes this an exceptionally rare beast. Especially over on UK soil, where it was never sold. Though handily, being South African, it’s right hand drive, so you won’t be left forever unable to overtake.

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The car was imported in 1990 and with just 35k on the clock, seems to have led a pretty pampered life. It’s also largely original, too. The vents on the bonnet are additional, the cam has been modified and the Holley 780cfm carb is new, but other than that, it’s all stock, right down to the AP four-pot brakes, the Diamond White paint, the grey velour trim and the Ronal 15×6 alloys. This is how Ford South Africa intended the car to be. It’s not been chopped about, it’s not got a load of miles on it, nor has been left to rot like so many Sierras of this vintage. As such, it stands as a weird, but ultimately wonderful slice of the lesser known side of performance Fords. And for an exclusive Sierra, a hair under twenty grand really isn’t a lot of money. Take an RS to a show and you’ll see loads of others. Take this, and you’ll be the only XR8 there, we promise you.

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