The Sierra’s troubles mount, forcing a radical rethink.
In the run up to the Sierra’s launch in September 1982, the external design had been previewed with the Probe concept, aimed at lessening the shock of the new. However, few observers believed Ford would put anything so radical into series production, a perception the automotive and general press did little to discourage. When Sierra arrived in the showrooms however, the stunned disbelief was palpable.
Additionally, there remained large stockpiles of unsold Cortinas, which required significant discounting to clear. This gave wavering customers an opt-out, which many gratefully accepted, delighted by the opportunity to acquire a Cortina Ghia for the same price as a Sierra L. The lack of a three-volume saloon bodystyle was another difficulty in a UK market that remained deeply conservative. Ford’s strategists believed that the Sierra’s ‘bustle-back’ appearance would provide the visual illusion of a saloon silhouette, satisfying such buyers, but this would prove to be mistaken.
In service, the Sierra would prove less durable than the market expected. Fleet managers reported finding them surprisingly prone to serious structural damage even after comparatively minor impacts, and early models were also said to be rust-prone. The relative fragility of the car may have been related to the lightness of its construction, something that Ford had heralded at launch.
There were also some build-related issues with early Sierras, and Ford’s aggressive cost controls ensured that components like shock-absorbers seemed to deteriorate more quickly than normal, making the cars feel decidedly ‘used’ and ‘baggy’. This was noticed by fleet managers who found Sierras needed more service attention than its rival GM product, which proved to be a tougher and more durable car over high mileages. Moreover, most of the engines fitted to the Sierra were regarded as no match for GM power units, being somewhat rough and lacking in refinement.
Quite apart from these issues, the elephant in the room remained the perception surrounding the Sierra’s controversial styling. The higher-specification models with their flush wheel covers, fully faired-in front end and large dual rectangular light units looked rather futuristic, but the low-line models with smaller headlamps and a three-slat grille looked very plain, especially the base model where the grille was left in unpainted grey textured plastic. The UK market in particular seemed to struggle with the Sierra’s design, although it was better received in continental Europe.
The Sierra quickly acquired an unflattering jellymould nickname in the UK press and faced significant resistance from potential buyers there and in other conservative markets, many of whom were attracted instead to the smart new Opel Ascona C and its Vauxhall Cavalier equivalent. Moreover, the Ascona/ Cavalier were available in both four-door saloon and five-door hatchback variants, making them attractive to a wider range of buyers than the hatchback (and estate) only Sierra.
Even the sporting XR4i three-door version, with its unique rear side window arrangement(1) and outlandish looking double rear wing, could not improve the Sierra’s image amongst prospective customers. Moreover, at 2.8 litres, while fine for a halo model, the initial lack of a smaller engined performance model handed more sales to its GM rival. In the UK, the Cavalier outsold the Sierra in 1984 and 1985, an unprecedented situation that proved intolerable for Ford.
In September 1983, Ford launched the Orion. This was simply a re-engineered version of the Escort Mk3 five-door with a new rear end incorporating wider C-pillars instead of the Escort’s rear quarter windows, a fixed rear screen and separate boot. The Orion was a quite pleasant looking car, although the heavily curved rear screen seemed to be rather at odds with the linear styling elsewhere. It was marketed to appeal to existing Cortina(2) owners, and although perceived to be smaller and rather staid in comparison with the Ascona C / Cavalier Mk2, it sold steadily, mainly to older, more conservative buyers.
The Sierra’s aerodynamics(3) concealed a potentially serious flaw that would become apparent when the car took to public roads. There were reports that the shape lacked yaw (directional) stability at speed in crosswinds, making it difficult to maintain in a straight line(4). In July 1983, Neil Kinnock, then leader of the opposition UK Labour Party, was involved in a serious accident in his new Sierra, when the car left the road and somersaulted over a crash barrier. Kinnock was not seriously hurt but the car was a write-off and the incident attracted widespread press coverage. While it cannot be said with certainty that aerodynamic instability was a contributory factor in this accident, the ensuing press speculation was most unhelpful for the Sierra’s prospects.
Without explicitly acknowledging the seriousness of the issue, in 1985 Ford fitted small aerodynamic strakes behind the rear three-quarter windows to manage airflow and limit the formation of unstable vortices which were alleged to be the cause of the instability(5). At the same time, the Sierra received a minor facelift whereby the three-slat grille was deleted and all models received the flush front end. The base model was also discontinued. This was merely a holding exercise, however.
A major redesign for the Sierra had been ordered, together with the development of a three-box booted version. This came to fruition in September 1987 with the launch of the Sierra Mk2. The revised car was now also available as a saloon, called the Sierra Sapphire in the UK. The front end of all models was revised to have wider headlamps with outboard indicators that wrapped around into the front wings. This eliminated the slightly awkward visible panel gap that had surrounded the fairing panel/grille on the outgoing model and made the car look wider and lower. At the rear, wider but slimmer rear light clusters were used.
The biggest and most expensive change was quite subtle, but highly effective. The radii of all the corners in the door windows was reduced to make them look sharper. This had the effect of making the glass area look larger and the frames slimmer. A slightly larger quarter light in the C/D-pillar of the five-door completed the overhaul and transformed the appearance of the car. The aerodynamic strakes behind the rear quarter windows remained, but were more neatly incorporated into the surrounds. While Sierra was certainly due a refresh by 1987, this facelift was unusually comprehensive, suggesting a level of dissatisfaction within Ford about the early sales performance of the model.
More radically, hundreds of millions were spent on developing a three-volume saloon version. Notably, the new model had small aero strakes incorporated into the trailing edges of the C-pillars either side of the rear screen to avoid any repeat of the instability issues suffered by the early hatchback model. By mid-decade, the Sierra’s weak early UK sales were already recovering, but the new saloon, combined with the revised visual features on the hatchback, really turned the Sierra’s fortunes around, with the saloon version going on to outsell its hatchback sibling by a considerable margin.
It is a moot point as to whether the Sierra’s facelift was transformational, or whether the public had simply become more accustomed to ‘aero’ design. It was probably a combination of both factors but, in any event, the facelifted car went on to be a great success and remained on the market for a further six years before being replaced by the Mondeo in 1993.
A total of more than 2.7 million Sierras were built worldwide between 1982 and 1993. Most were built in the UK, Germany and Belgium, but they were also produced in Argentina, Venezuela, New Zealand and South Africa, where a 5.0 litre V8 version called the XR8 was offered.
It might be tempting to dismiss the Sierra as something of a chimera, with its traditional RWD layout hidden beneath its radical exterior styling. That would, however, be unjust. Its depth of engineering (engines apart), build quality and interior appointments represented a significant advance over the Cortina and, in its more mature Mk2 from, the Sierra deservedly sold very strongly.
When Ford came to replace the Sierra, the company finally embraced front-wheel-drive and offered a full range of bodystyles; saloon, hatchback and estate from the outset. The company’s flirtation with radical ‘aero’ styling was over and the new Mondeo was a remarkably bland looking car, to the extent that it could have come from any number of European or even Japanese manufacturers. It was of course, a fine car and was deservedly a great success.
That said, while the first Mondeo was excellently engineered and dynamically brilliant, it wasn’t a particularly memorable car. The Sierra, on the other hand, was not only a trailblazer in stylistic terms, but was by far the more significant. Hence, we might argue, it was the more important car.
(1) The XR4i had split rear side windows separated by an additional roof pillar rather than the single (overly?) long glass that featured on the regular three-door version and which, to some eyes at least, looked rather awkward.
(2) Although not identical, the Orion’s tail lights looked very similar in size, shape and layout to those of the final Cortina, the so-called Cortina ’80. This was hardly coincidental
(3) The Cd was claimed to be 0.34, which was competitive but not outstanding and was bettered by other less overtly aerodynamic cars such as the new Citroen BX, for which the claimed Cd was 0.33.
(4) Assuming Ford’s testing had not already uncovered the issue, which stretches credibility somewhat, given the extensive testing the car would have undergone.
(5) Might one conclude therefore that the Sierra’s was signed off for production with a known stability issue?
Editor’s note: A more in-depth analysis of the Sierra’s design genesis will follow shortly.
46 thoughts on “Sierra Shock (Part Three)”
Lovely series, Daniel, thank you.
I can’t speak at all concerning the first round of the Sierra other than this teenager though they looked fantastic enough to want a Corgi scale model of one, in silver. Still have it, somewhere…
However, by the time round two arrived I was behind the wheel of my rusty red Escort Mk2 which could manage about 80mph, flat out but ultra keen on getting into the Sierra. Luck came my way and very locally, too. The police used to run free (yes, really) advanced driving courses to help the public better understand your own vehicle whilst respecting the law. At the end of one session, a few of us were asked to report to the station the following Sunday morning for a special trip – in the police Sierra (sadly I have no clue of engine size, guessing at two litre petrol). We were treated to a masterclass of car control on A and B roads, motorway, too (doing well over 100mph – a joy to a new driver) where the car felt very sure footed (well, in comparison to my old banger, most things would) and I left feeling most impressed by the car. And driver.
Later the same year (89-90)the factory I worked in received a sky blue estate GL (I think) model and I was tasked for my first trip in taking the manager to some hotel for a meeting. I remember the new car smell and pressing buttons and trying the volume control of the radio/cassette player as I waited in the car park. The boss seemed to be only a few minutes before returning but I do remember how easy the car was to drive, an excellent gearbox and everything smooth and to this new driver, bloody lovely.
I’ve seen nothing but Sapphires on the road or at car shows for ages, now.
Good morning Andrew. My first experience of the Sierra was driving a rented estate car version in 1986. It was a 1.6-litre model with a four-speed manual gearbox and I recall it sounding rather noisy and strained at 70mph on a motorway, considerably less refined than my company 1.6 Montego at the same speed. The Montego had the benefit of a five-speed gearbox, which undoubtedly helped.
I also had that Corgi model of the silver Sierra, got it for Christmas 1983. I remember it was labeled as a 2.3 Ghia model, and we never got the 2.3 V6 in Sweden, either for the Sierra, Granada, or Capri. There was always a jump from the 2.0 Pinto unit to the 2.8 Cologne in the Swedish line-up.
These were the days of closed market and Sweden had some of the most stringent rules in the world together with California and Switzerland. And many manufacturers simply didn’t bother to get all engine alternatives type classed in our market if they didn’t believe they would recuperate the cost. Tragically though as the 2.3 Sierra seems to have hit a sweet spot?
I never saw a three-door with the long glass window, other than Cosworths, so I wonder if they were offered in these islands.
I remember the O’Ryan being very popular in Ireland however.
Hi Mervyn. I believe you are correct: the non-Cosworth three-door was never offered in the UK or Ireland. The potential market for it would have been vanishingly small, I would imagine.
It´s strange, as the three- door-long glass window sporty 2.0i S sold relatively well in Spain. There weren´t base three door Sierras here.
3 door versions were available in the UK for a short while around 1984: they’re listed in Autocar’s All-Car guide for 1984 (but not in the 1983 issue) and no longer in Ford’s Cars brochure by May ’85. They were just base and L models with 1.3 & 1.6 petrol or 2.3 diesel engines. I do remember seeing a few when new so it was surprising when they used that ‘cheap’ shell for the Cosworth, albeit briefly.
The Sierra three door was definitely sold in the UK. In October 1983 it’s listed as available in 1.3, 1.6, 1.6E, 1.6L , and 1.6LE specifications. The cheapest 1.3 cost £5000. Another £183 got you two more side doors, and most buyers took that option. I think the low-spec 3 doors were dropped from the UK lists not long afterwards. They were seen as “orphan cars” on the used market, but for a late flowering in demand to produce unofficial Cosworth replicas.
As to the “O’Ryan”, I well remember an Australian-domiciled friend visiting the UK in the mid ’80s and telling me “there’s this new Ford called an Onion”.
I definitely remember seeing the four-light three-door Sierra out and about on the roads of the UK. Steve Saxty’s wonderful “The Cars You Always Promised Yourself” book has the low-down on the peculiarity of the Sierra having two distinct three-door bodies.
Late in the programme in 1981 it was felt that the base and L three-door cars looks a bit odd with the six-light DLO, but without all the XR4’s* aero addenda. Accordingly a second three-door bodyshell with the four-light treatment was added. Ironically it also looked rather odd and elongated.
* The XR4 became the XR4i in Autumn 1982, after the etched three-quarter glass without the “i” had already been tooled up.
To my shame, I’d overlooked the 2.3 diesel 3 door Sierras. In October 1983 they were £5749 for a base model and £6238 for an L. Remember we’re starting from a baseline of £5000 for a 1.3 3-door.
Try as I might, I can’t think what sort of British customer would want a 3 door diesel. Most diesel Sierras in the UK were bought for use as minicabs, or as high mileage fleet cars for employees not important enough to make a fuss about the company car they were allocated. Farmers also liked them – I can’t think why…
Did the 3 doors actually exist other than on price lists?
b234r – that Spanish market 3 door 2.0iS is a smart looking thing. I’m thinking of it as a Capri substitute, for a country whose market opened up too late for its car buyers to promise themselves the original.
Robertas, I thought the three door Sierra 2.0i S was more popular across Europe. Here it was one of the best selling Sierras. Certainly it seems a good succesor of the Capri 2.o S
We arrived late at the Capri party, in 1980, but then Ford brought them at very competitive prices (for an import) and it sold well, considering our economic status.
The one we didn´t get, fortunately, was the three door diesel. A base 2.3 D looks like a masochistic´s special.
Thank you Daniel for a fair and well-balanced read. It’s also highly refreshing that you didn’t even mention the RS Cosworth, which often tends to dominate any Sierra-related piece or discussion.
Hi Joel. The Sierra Cosworth probably deserves a separate piece, although it doesn’t especially interest me as I’m always sceptical about the impact of ‘halo’ models on sales of the bread-and-butter cars. I suspect that they are mainly produced to massage the egos of the corporate big-wigs, rather than to induce customers into the showroom.
Nice series of articles, Daniel, thanks. It maybe because of my age at the time, but the arrival of the Sierra definitely made a bigger impression on me than that of the Mondeo. It was certainly a more distinctive and controversial design, but the Mondeo was much nicer to drive. It could be argued that the Sierra and Granada/ Scorpio experience drove Ford back into its conservative comfort zone, as evidenced by the Escort V and Fiesta III, only to swing back into more interesting times with the arrival of New Edge.
Good morning S.V. Likewise, the Sierra was a big event for me. I remember a work colleague of mine getting a metallic pale blue 2.0-litre Ghia as a company car. It looked very impressive after the Cortina. A decade later, the Mondeo just looked a bit generic by comparison, as though it could have been made by many Japanese or European automakers.
I’m really enjoying this set of articles, too – thank you. Like others, I can still remember the astonishment I felt when I saw the Sierra. The future really had arrived and I still like to see them. It made things like the Montego look a bit passé when it arrived, which is a shame – I recall they drove and rode very well – with real fluidity.
Coming back to the Sierra, it would have been tested endlessly by Ford and by independent agencies before release, so the aerodynamic and low-speed damage problems really are strange.
Another thought – the Orion was ready to go remarkably quickly after the launch of the Sierra – I guess it was a back-up plan? I always felt a bit disappointed that they offered it – I thought that they should have stuck to their convictions with the Sierra.
Sadly, due to its incredibly long gestation, the Montego actually came out two years after the Sierra.
From my teenage perspective the Montego didn’t look too bad, certainly helped by its lower bonnet line compared to the Maestro. And the different grille treatments for the lower ranked Sierra models really did it no favours at all.
Hi Charles and Andy. My company Montego was a nice car to drive and felt reasonably solid and well built, excepting the orange-peel black paintwork and extremely brittle plastic bumpers. It’s a shame that it looked a bit frumpy. The concave sides and awkward looking three-part rear window did it no favours. Still, in the right colour and with some brightwork, it looked pleasant enough:
The estate was always the better looking variant, of course:
Gimpy looks aside the Montego was a far better car than a Sierra, even more so when they had a few miles on the clock and the Sierra just fell to crap. Up until as recently as ten years ago a dog eared Montego estate serving as a builders van was a reasonably common sight, while despite their vastly higher sales numbers Sierras were practically extinct a decade before that, 9 years after they ended production.
The late Montego really did come good, and filled a niche in the market that today would be occupied by Dacia and other purveyors of motorised biscuit tins, an inauspicious end to the last semi serious attempt to make a volume selling British car.
Annoyingly, it wouldn’t have taken much to have made the Montego look really good, as the facelift proposals which were never put in to production, show.
Daniel very nicely written series, thank you.
About the montego photos I am a bit confused, which front wing is the correct one, the golden or the blue?
Good afternoon Constantinos. I take it you are referring to the profile of the wheel arch? I think they are the same and it’s just a trick of the light that makes the gold one look sharper and smaller.
There is a wheel arch related story to tell about the Maestro and Montego, however. The former did have a different wheel arch profile, which was sharper and shallower than those on the latter. Here’s the Maestro:
(The Maestro has aged rather well, don’t you think? It almost looks attractive in that photo!)
When Austin Rover sold the Maestro design and manufacturing equipment to Chinese manufacturer FAW, the resulting car, called the Lubao CA6410, was fitted with the Montego front end. Hence, the wheel arches were mismatched front to rear and the rubbing strip on the (Montego) front bumper was too high and did not align properly with the (Maestro) side and rear bumper rubbing strips:
There I go, hijacking my own post again to talk about an entirely different car!
Daniel: your knowledge and powers of observation lead me to wonder if you are on performance enhancing drugs. I used to consider myself fairly knowledgeable. The Montego/Maestro bumpers details proves I´ve overestimated myself somewhat! Back to the Montego: it´s a car that´s forgotten and when you are reminded of it, you wonder how it got forgotten – only to forget it again. It seems like it has the character of an alternate reality Britain.
Good evening Richard. Thank you for your kind words, although I should clarify that the closest I ever get to performance enhancing drugs is a strong cup of coffee!
The Maestro and Montego were rather more different at the front end than one might think from a casual glance. One of the Maestro’s most unusual details were its chamfered corners (in plan view) front and rear. At the front, this caused the top surface of the wings to get progressively wider towards the front of the car, which looked a little odd:
The Montego was completely different. It lacked the sharp crease at the top of the front wing and its wing to bonnet shut-lines were parallel to the sides of the car:
Austin Rover put a lot of effort into trying to differentiate the two models, in order to make the Montego look larger and more imposing. Even the doors, the only shared outer panels, had to be fitted with rather clunky plastic sill cappings on the Montego to disguise the Maestro’s falling sill line. These warped in the summer heat and often looked misaligned, as can be seen in the image above. Given that the only shared external panels were those doors, Austin Rover really would have been better off starting from scratch with a completely different outer skin.
Problematic doors seem to have been a recurring theme for the company. Previously, there were the 1800’s doors, which were forced upon the the Maxi, making its wheelbase overly long and giving it awkward proportions. Subsequently, there were the XX Rover 800’s, which were carried over to the R17 facelifted model, forcing its multiple bodyside creases also to be retained. This saved Rover no money in that the dies for the body presses that produced them were allegedly worn out and needed to be replaced anyway:
Hence, the R17 looked rather too long and narrow, an effect exacerbated by all those bodyside creases.
Being a bit of a sucker for long lost causes, I had another go at making the Montego saloon a bit more appetising. Original first for comparison:
Aside from the altered DLO, I raised and tidied up the side rubbing strip and made the rear door longer to balance up the side profile. (The door, shared with the Maestro, always looked to short to my eyes.) I also made the rear lights slimmer, to match the front.
Yes, the red maestro looks like a very masterfully clean cut design! A bit like the first opel astra.
The ‘wrap around’ rear screen is obviously the first thing anyone would change. Even the factory knew that, both the early prototypes before production, and the last prototypes for the facelift, got rid of it and went with a more conventional (and attractive?) alternative.
Good morning David. That awkward rear screen was another consequence of Austin Rover’s misguided decision to reuse the Maestro’s doors on the Montego, a poor choice that severely compromised the saloon’s appearance.
Good Evening Daniel. Yes the matter is well covered on the wonderful AROnline website. Complicated by the fact that Bache designed the Maestro and others designed the Montego. I do think that Roy Axe did protest too much at what he had been left to work with and he ‘solved’ a non existent ‘problem’ with his awful, clunky waistline/sill detail to ‘straighten’ the sill line. All this did was to demonstrate his lack of skill and further date the car’s appearance on it’s release. The early and late prototypes demonstrate how unnecessary the rubber moulding was.
Good evening David. Seeing that perfectly pleasant if somewhat generic looking prototype makes one wonder how they ended up getting the production car so wrong.
Yes but surely attractive generic is better than ugly weird. It certainly seems to be helping Škoda and Kia.
Few designers have been as successful at establishing a favourable narrative as Roy Axe. To this day, it is widely believed and regularly reported that he saved Austin-Rover design after David Bache had completely lost the plot.
Yet, according to a designer who was there, the falling-out over the Montego was only ever (mis)reported from Musgrove’s perspective. Never mentioned in this context is Roy Axe’s compensation, however, which was required to match his previous salary (US companies paid designers considerably more generously than even the most prosperous of European car makers at the time), which adds another chink to the ‘knight in shiny armour’ narrative.
Those early prototypes are not where the Montego was at when Axe was first shown the car – by the point he saw it the ‘wrap-around’ rear window had an angled lower edge to the side section which took it down to the level of the DLO of the rear door windows. The car was in the production engineering phase when Axe first saw it and so there was very little he could do to change it – even change it back to something like the clay model in the photo David sourced off AROnline.
The later proposal for a facelift would have looked quite smart in a very conventional kind of way (almost like a Talbot Solara …) and was designed under Axe’s aegis. Alas, no funding due to the cashflow crisis caused by the failure of LM10 and LM11 to perform as hoped. In any case, by that point, Rover’s future product development was effectively already tied to its collaboration with Honda.
The 1987 Ford Sierra Sapphire ad wrenched me back to that period, a year before my Leaving Cert exam and the end of secondary school. That seemed to be an especially intense phase of my existence. I really noticed these cars among all the others; the BX and Saab 9000 also stood out. But those cars don´t capture the feeling of the time like the Ford. If I had any ability to write fiction I´d try to gather the impressions of that time, specifically for central Dublin which was my habitat.
Can I add my thanks, Daniel, for this series on a car which in its day had no appeal for me whatsoever; I can now appreciate it properly and I just wish I’d taken more notice before they all disappeared. It was always said that Fords were designed to last seven years and no longer – and that was long before a car could actually be pre-programmed to do just that – so I suppose Sierras have simply dissolved into ferrous oxide. Strange, though, that there are still a few Cortinas around….
I do enjoy the DTW Tendency – going off at a tangent, in this case being distracted by Montegos & Maestros. Of the former the estate was certainly the better looking and one of the best of its type . Ours had the excellent (sharp intake of breath from the editorial chair) direct-injection Perkins Prima engine and averaged (that’s right, averaged) 60mpg. We also had one of the last Maestros, similarly powered, in which over 100,000 miles were covered in just four years. Its only real fault was the steel bumpers which had obviously been painted without being primed and rapidly rusted through. But excellent value for money and of no interest whatsoever to other drivers, making for stressless journeys. Other than those bumpers, neither vehicle ever failed to proceed or cost us more than routine servicing. Not everything from British Leyland was rubbish!
Daniel: correct. I like the dark grey one two. It has the upright formality of a US car, which is agreeable. Are such conversions hard to do? What about the interior trim?
It’s not just about BL, it was the dealers too. A relative bought a new Maestro from a dealer in Kerry. It had three forward gears, because the linkage was damaged by the ramp on the ferry that imported it. PDI never spotted that. By the time the gears were fixed, the white paint was flaking off the plastic bumpers. He got them to take it back and give him an Acclaim instead – tiny inside but well screwed together, with a sweet motor.
A fun thing a few latter-day enthusiasts have done is create ‘coupé’ sapphires using parts from the shell of XR4 body shells. It’s quite a effective transformation…
Apart from the wheels (wrong!) it looks very convincing. I like the C-pillar´s parallel lines very much.
Hi Richard. I guess you’re referring to the white example when you mention the C-pillar’s parallel lines. The silver car seems to use a differently shaped rear side window, so its C-pillar widens noticeably towards the base.
The three door model has stayed in a warm corner of our memory as the Sierra Cosworth, the all-conquering racing machine of the time, because the Cosworth engined cars were sold here for competition use to professional drivers, holders of special license, not as a private sale to ordinary drivers. I have recently spotted in Athens a Sierra 1.3 or 1.6 three door white car, with no stickers, with the factory wheels, no spoiler, and I found it to be very original, simple and elegant, and in very good condition, no rust to be seen. This car would be 30 to 35 years old.
Most of the Sierra I remember, were from the 1987 facelifted edition and after, until the end of Sierra sales. That happened because after 1990 the taxes were lowered. There were some estates, a welcome sight at the time, when the buyers here sported old fashioned taste and avoided the estates at all, choosing four doors and boot most of the time. The estate gave a feeling of stability and assurance, is seemed planted to the road in my eyes, with its wide and low bonnet, curved side glass and long body, like a train. The four door Sapphire sold well here, it was a common sight in every street during the 90s, there were even a few used as taxis, but not many. At the time, the buying public liked the 1988 VW Passat that was roomier, and the Sierra lost sales because of that.
The equivalent Passat really was a roomy car. I got to drive one a few times and it was as tough as old wellingtons and had super sightlines out. It happened to look a bit rough but not worse than the ugliness of Subarus that I wilfully indulge!
It was big inside, certainly Richard. I remember it, as a taxi passenger. The german cars were back then appreciated by the public as quality offerings. The Passat that was sold here was mainly the basic edition, the 1.6 without electric windows and the like, because of its relatively high price in the segment. And the people kept buying them with no hesitation. It was hard to spot a 1.8 car, it was pricey. You could easily spot an estate, the Passat estate was one of the rare estate cars that were bought here.
Spotted last week a Sierra Sapphire 4 door, dark grey, with a small rear spoiler.