Back To The 80s: Ford Sierra

Fri 16th Aug 2019

When we think of the classic eras of motoring we might cast our mind back to stylish cars of the 1950s, the muscle cars of the 1960s or the super cars of the 1970s. What might not spring to mind however is the motors which were produced in the 1980s - an era which certainly favoured practicality over power, style and sophistication.

But the cars of today owe much to 80s, it was a decade which brought us turbochargers, multi-valve engines and hot hatchbacks, an era of the people-carrier and the rise of the SUV. Digital displays and electronic gadgetry, were the norm as designers pushed the boundaries of of what was capable in a production vehicle.

So let's celebrate the 80s, a period of huge change across Britain as a whole, and one which had incredible landmarks in the motor industry.

Ford Sierra

As the Cortina gradually became unfashionable in the late 1970s, the executives at Ford began to look at viable alternatives for an old faithful of a vehicle which had served across generations and proven to be a big winner for the company.

The Probe III concept car had promised a brave new world for Ford when unveiled in 1981, and it was from that blueprint that the Ford Sierra was born. The concept had received a great reception from the public and in 1982 they got to see the Cortina’s successor, which paid more attention to style over engine substance. Gone were the sharp-edged, straight line stylings of the Cortina and in its place the all new ‘aero’ look which had been first glimpsed in the MkIII Escort but was now in full force with the Sierra.

The ‘Aeroback’ boot stump lid certainly gave the Sierra great aerodynamics, with an impressive drag coeffecient of 0.34 on launch. But the curves of the Sierra were not well received by the public at the start of the 80s, many describing it as the ‘jellymould’ or the ‘The Salesman’s Spaceship’. 

While the Vauxhall Cavalier, enjoyed a more progressive journey through the 80s, it wasn’t until later in the decade that opinions on the Sierra softened and with souped-up high-powered V6 powered options followed by the XR4x4 and then the amazing Cosworth the Sierra gained a growing fan club.

By 1987, confidence in the Sierra brand was such that the Ford company gave in to public demand and built a Sierra with a seperate boot - the Sapphire.

Despite the negativity around the Sierra in its ten year spell in Britain it sold 1.3million units and even after production ended in 1992 it was still selling strong into the mid-90s.

Succeeded by the Mondeo, the Sierra was never to match the critical acclaim of the Cortina, but it showed the way for Ford during a time of change and managed to evolve the motoring world into one which would later embrace curvier ‘jellymould’ designs.

Manufacturer: Ford
Assembly: Dagenham, England
Designer: Uwe Bahnsen
Did You Know?: Labour leader Neil Kinnock owned one of the first British built models in 1983, but didn’t own it for long when he wrecked it in a crash on the M4  motorway.