Into the Vortex – Part One

Defying Mittlemässigkeit.

Image: autophoto

In a three part series, Patrick le Quément speaks exclusively to DTW about the Ford Sierra’s troubled genesis.

All car designers set out to create beautiful objects, not simply for artistic reasons, but for commercial ones too. After all, a beautiful car is more than usually a successful one. But like success, beauty has many parents and midwives, whereas failure (and ugliness for that matter) is almost always an orphan.

Automotive design is a collaborative process, requiring no small measures of vision, craft, intelligence and determination, but in the final analysis, it requires a consensus; after all, no modern car design can be decided upon by a single individual. But with the cost of failure so high, the process can often appear as something more akin to an act of faith.

During the 1970s, risk-aversion was Ford of Europe’s operative modus. Marrying proven, conventionally engineered hardware, with fashionable, durable styling and a wide range of engines, body styles and trim levels, all backed by exhaustive market research, this formula proved successful, even if the cars themselves were not always the sophisticate’s choice.

The 1982 Ford Sierra marked a pivotal shift from this iterative pathway and its uncompromising appearance precipitated an unprecedented aesthetic revolt from traditional Ford buyers, elements of the motor press and fleet managers alike, unwilling to buy into the designers’ vision.

The background to the Sierra (codenamed Toni) lay in the late-’70s drive towards efficiency; advances in areas such as turbocharging, solid state electronics and aerodynamics becoming key areas of research and development. But in purely market-driven terms, no carmaker could be seen to ignore the growing importance of these technologies in helping shift perceptions, in creating the desire for the new.

Change was in the air. The success of the progressive front-driven Fiesta, led to the supervisory board sanctioning Klaus Kapitza’s sharp-suited, bustle-tailed Erika (Escort) design for 1980. But Ford of Europe Vice President of Design, Uwe Bahnsen and his senior designers wanted to move the dial still further – their ambition being for outright design leadership.

Hundreds of people would ultimately become involved in the process of designing and productionising the Sierra, but the key figures behind its creation were as follows:

Uwe Bahnsen: Ford of Europe Vice President – Design.
Ray Everts: Ford of Europe Chief Designer – Exterior Design.
Patrick le Quément: Ford of Europe Executive Designer – Exterior Design.
Klaus Kapitza: Senior Exterior Designer.
Gert Hohenester: Senior Exterior Designer – later design Manager.
Lutz Jansen: Lead Aerodynamicist.
Bob Lutz: Ford of Europe – Director of Operations (Sales/Marketing).

Patrick le Quément recalls the design sensibility at Merkenich at the time: “The Ford Designers were thoroughly European in their design references, not rejecting US designs but feeling that there were two  worlds apart. Hence the fact that we looked with far greater interest at what was happening on the European scene, be it from Italian coachbuilders or forward thinking European manufacturers”.

But before any definitive work on Toni could take place, a design philosophy was first established. This came primarily from Chief Designer, Ray Everts, who was, “the thinker, the person who led the team towards a new design direction, which included the analysis of the greenhouse on the move”[1]. Everts, who in his earlier career had been responsible for a number of highly streamlined designs, would be instrumental in the shift in ethos away from the defined surfacing of Erika towards more fluid shapes.

This influence was brought to bear upon senior designer, Klaus Kapitza. “He [Kapitza] was enamoured with fluid shapes, I would say that he was the great influence in the Merkenich studio at the time, as he took over my role as the man responsible for the Forward Design Studio when I left for an assignment in Ford Dunton. Klaus was an excellent designer but he was a taciturn, sombre fellow who was not strategically oriented. He just drew beautiful cars”.

Another to be taken by Everts’ cerebral approach was Gert Hohenester, who up to that point “had designed very crisp and remarkably proportioned models. Gert came up with the Porsche approach[2], the man who designed the first model that carried all the traits that were maintained until the production car”.

As the Sierra’s design theme began to be teased out, Uwe Bahnsen, who understood just how difficult it would be to shift hidebound perceptions amid senior management took the prudent strategic decision to include Ford’s newly appointed (former BMW) Head of Operations, Bob Lutz in the process. Patrick le Quement: “He had no official role in the product development at that time, but he was invited to the Design Center by Bahnsen as it was known how much of an eye he had for design”[3]. Lutz would become a pivotal part of the story  – “Sierra could not have happened without him” – and his backing for the design was crucial, since he carried a good deal of weight in Dearborn; Henry Ford II trusting Lutz’s judgement, which proved vital to the Sierra’s chances.

But despite getting Lutz on board, Bahnsen himself needed to be convinced, not just of the merits of the proposal, but that his team had composed a compelling enough narrative to sell the design to a highly sceptical and pathologically risk-averse Ford supervisory committee. The preferred Sierra designs may have emerged, but this was just the beginning of the process.

It was now time to enter the vortex.

Continue reading.

Our grateful thanks to Patrick le Quément for sharing his recollections of the Sierra programme exclusively with us on Driven to Write.

[1] Patrick le Quément: “The greenhouse on the move was a chapter in a design analysis which documented the gradual evolution of exterior design, one notable point being that the cowl intersection with the hood was continuously moving forward, shortening the hood, but also hinting at the ultimate move towards ‘one box designs’”.

[2] Patrick le Quément: “Gert was enamoured by the Anatole Lapine Porsche 928, with its voluptuous sculpture and unusual for the time treatment of the rear pillars. Gert came up with the 3 door version which was the base of the XR4 body. This 3 door version was planned to become the regular body for the 3 door market but, it was decided that a last minute change should be made to the tooling and the central (B) pillar should be eliminated to improve visibility. This was never mentioned or published… Indeed, such a design would never have come up naturally, it felt unbalanced to have such a long rear window.”

[3] Patrick le Quément: “Bob Lutz mastered several languages which included the design language”. 

 

©Driven to Write. All rights reserved.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

31 thoughts on “Into the Vortex – Part One”

  1. Oh dear – what a horror story hides in [1]
    “Cowl moving forwards, shortening the hood” – “the ultimate move toward ‘one box design’”
    Only a few days ago we discussed one-box design, the forward control van – now extinct in Europe save for surviving examples of the VW Type 2.
    Moving the cowl forward brings the sort of issues that made the DS3, also recently discussed, some styling problems. Worse than that, it brings the issue of wheel-arch intrusion. This is less of a problem with LHD cars where the wheel arch can act as a footrest. With RHD cars you need space for throttle pedal travel against the wheel arch, unless you are going to squeeze all three pedals inboard of the wheel arch and skew the driving position – as in the otherwise glorious Lancia Stratos.

    1. The cowl area between hood and windscreen on the Sierra is painted black or black plastic, to visually move the greenhouse further forward. But they had more advanced plans than that. On the Scorpio there’s a crescent shaped pressing in the hood covering the cowl area that was supposed to be painted black in contrast to the rest of the body coloured hood. For some reason they abstained from that, but I’ve always wondered what the intended effect would’ve been?

  2. Good morning Eóin. It is fascinating to read about the unique circumstances that facilitated the development of such a brave and, as it would prove, commercially risky design. It’s difficult to think of another example of a mainstream manufacturer taking quite such a leap of faith.

    There are, of course, many examples of designs that challenged buyers’ tastes and expectations, for example, the Fiat Multipla, but the cars I can think of were mainly outliers, not the high-volume sellers that were critical to the manufacturer’s profitability. Perhaps the original Ford Focus was similarly brave, but it was readily accepted by the market.

    We now understand how the standard three-door Sierra ended up looking rather awkward: a late change of mind. The five-door (and XR4 three-door) were really well resolved designs, so the three-door needed some explanation, and now we have it. Great stuff!

  3. This is quite something – a PlQ exclusive on DTW, discussing a seminal design to boot.

    Nice one Eóin; can’t wait to read the whole series.

  4. So was the entry-level 3 door body used for the first Cosworth version because it wasn’t selling and they had surplus shells, or were they trying to sprinkle fairy-dust on the base shell?
    During the earlier series on the Sierra someone commented that at launch the shape screamed “future”. To me it screamed “fake”
    Really looking forward to the next instalment.

    1. It’s worth bearing in mind that at the time the Sierra was being conceived, car design was still progressing and this idea of the migrating canopy was one which was gaining traction, not just at Ford, but elsewhere too – not least at Ital Design in Turin. What is interesting to me is that at this time, there appeared to be no emphasis on the so-called ‘prestige gap’; the front axle to windscreen cowl ratio so beloved of latter day car designers. Their earlier equivalents were less perhaps less precious then, or at least more willing to try something new. It is also interesting (to me) that with the rise of the EV, this cab-forward silhouette is making something of a comeback. But then, one also has the sense that nowadays, much like music, all the new ideas have been mined dry.

      Mervyn: Given that the Cossie was developed primarily as a competition car, I would reasonably assume that there were some pretty sound reasons for employing that particular bodyshell. Mind you, I would have thought that the XR4 body would have been (marginally) more torsionally rigid, but was probably discontinued by then. (The XR4 in three door form was relatively short-lived after all). But since I cannot expect Mr. le Quément to answer all questions, we must therefore bat that one to the readership.

      You say fake. I disagree. The Sierra was to my eyes breathtaking in its audacity in 1982 (and I remember its impact well). The fact that it came from Ford only underlined this.

  5. There’s really nothing wrong with the three door Sierra either. The side windows are proportionally similar but mirrored, harmoniously complementing each other. What’s wrong is the very thin C/D-pillar, making the rear look rather thin and fragile. If they only had dropped using the five-door D-pillar and moved the trailing edge of the windows just five or ten centimeter further forward it would’ve looked more substantial.

    1. I see what you mean, Ingvar (original on top for comparison):

      You can make the C pillar thicker still, but it gets a bit awkward with radii for the rear side window (I just moved the inner edge of the C pillar forward to make these):

      The only thing I will say is that certainly on the last one, it amplifies the family resemblance with Erika a bit more, which might be what they tried to avoid if they wanted the Sierra to be a visibly radical break with the past (even if said past was only a few years old).

      In general I would like to express my admiration to DTW for snagging this story and especially to Patrick le Quément for his huge contribution to the world through his design nous and his philosophical approach. Je suis plein d’admiration pour votre oevre, monsieur. Even if I understand that design is a collaborative approach, it takes the right people to even get a collaboration off the ground and even “right-er” people to have it succesfully fulfill its brief and not get sidetracked or bogged down.

      I can just imagine a certain Mr. Christopher Butt having something to do with this, so a big thank you to him, too.

    2. Tom V: You would be correct in that. My grateful thanks to Mr. Butt for facilitating this.

    3. Hi Tom. You’re right, the issue is the skinny C-pillar. Both your modified images are an improvement over the original, but I marginally prefer the one with the more subtle modification. The one with the wider C-pillar and shorter rear side-window, weirdly, now looks to have too long a nose for it to be perfectly proportioned.

    4. Thanks Tom. This is exactly how I imagined it. The last one is remarkable Erika-like, so much so I thought you had shortened the wheelbase to give it that rwd stance that the Erika has despite being fwd?

      My point being, Ford could’ve resolved this issue with a little bit of time which they didn’t have, being forced to use the body hardpoints of the five door shell.

    5. This is a mockup from 1979 of the original six-light three door Sierra bodyshell in non-XR4i form. Not visible is the other side which is a mockup of the five door, as was common practice then.

      I think you can see why the designers thought it looked undercooked without the XR4i’s spoiler and commissioned the four-light three door body so late in the programme.

      The image is from Steve Saxty’s “The Cars You Always Promised Yourself” book.

    6. No wheelbase change, Ingvar, just a thicker C-pillar. Part of the resemblance is probably because the pillar is the same thickness everywhere, like on Erika. That’s more or less necessary for the thin pillar, but not a thicker one. Tapering it will probably make Toni resemble Erika less, as will any view that’s not a direct side view, since the Sierra is a lot more rounded (physically). It is remarkable what the C-pillar does for the impression of the whole car, though.

      As for Joel’s picture: I find it difficult to gauge whether it looks a bit “thin” because we’re only familiar with the six-light in XR4i form and are (subconsciously) thinking “that’s an XR4i… no wait, something’s missing”, or because it really does look out of sorts like this. It does highlight that the pillars being uniform thickness is probably a conscious design decision.

      Daniel: I like the subtler version as well. I hadn’t so much noticed the nose, but more the resemblance to Erika and how that does the Sierra no favours. The Escort is quite nice, but it is conventional, while a big part of the Sierra’s appeal is its futurism. But, as I mention above, any view not directly from the side would have made the resemblance less obvious.

      Perhaps another option would be to take a leaf out of the 928’s book and make the B pillar thicker instead:

  6. Today’s article contains just about all the reasons why I (always) read DTW first thing in the morning with my first cup of coffee.
    You can’t get more competence in fine words. Nowhere.
    Thanks to the authors and the commentators.

    1. Much the same here, but I am usually up an hour and a half before DTW’s new installment, so I have done a lot of things already. And I don’t drink coffee 😉

      This is a great series, looking forward to the next two installments.

  7. I have been trying my best through this excellent series to undestand how the Sierra set so many hearts racing.

    The design might well have been a departure from some of Fords immediate offerings but that doesn’t seem to be enough to warrant such praise, especially since it would be hard to say that said change was for the better.

    It is hard not to feel that the Sierra was just the sort of car BL could have let loose upon the world as it’s latest saviour.

    As for the presitge gap, I assumed this is only a big thing for designers because of the rise of monobox and near-monobox designs associated with so much dross

    1. I have been trying my best through this excellent series to understand how the Sierra set so many hearts racing.

      You had to be there. In many ways the early 1980s was still a period of optimism, with a belief that science and technology would make all of our lives better. Computers were making their way into British homes. The Compact Disc was new and fibre optics heralded a communications revolution.

      British roads were still a hangover from the 1970s, full of Cortinas, Chevettes, Allegros and Marinas. Against this backdrop, the Sierra looked like a spaceship from the future. In late 1982 and 1983, people used to stop and stare when they saw one on the road. When was the last time we can honestly say that happened for a mainstream new model?

    2. That was it, exactly, Joel. The ’70s was such a miserable decade, in the UK and Ireland at least, with oil crises, frequent strikes, power cuts, three-day weeks, inflation, recession and high unemployment. We were so glad to see the back of it that we optimistically welcomed the new technologies and fashions that arrived in the new decade. The Sierra was perfect for the new zeitgeist, even if conservative drivers didnt ‘get’ it, at least until it was facelifted.

    3. Like other concepts such as the transubstantiation, sovereignty and falsification, you either find the Sierra worth deeper consideration or you don´t. I think CE is looking at the car from a vantage point of about 1988; at the time the Sierra really did surprise people. And years later, it remains a satisfying object to behold, as worthy as cars made by (then) more prestigious brands and worthier than scores of very, expensive vehicles that traded only on the extent of their use of leather and V8s. As others have noted, there was a bit of optimism in terms of technological improvement hanging over from the 60s and 70s which the Sierra helped re-energise too. Unlike a Citroen, say, it was also much more accessible. Ford need not have bothered but they did and that meant something for people in their daily lives.

      (Note to Eoin: see “Chalmers, M., et al. (1984) Reported effects of increased hair papilla stimulation due to exposure to automotive styling innovation”. Jrnl. Med. Sci. Vol X, Issue 345, pp.406-518)

    4. Richard: The Chalmers study was I believe, later disputed, owing to a number of discrepancies in the weighting of the test subjects, the nature and exact location of the reported hair papilla stimulation in the subjects themselves and the auto design to which Chalmers and his team exposed his subjects – a Reliant Scimitar SS1. There were, it appears a number of cases of false reporting, where the subject’s hair (or whatever simulacrum of it they possessed) was reported to have risen vertically. Rival research team (Bobbe/Hoyle/Eaton) have since asserted, that this can be explained by the subjects experiencing a form of ‘follicular trauma’ arising from sudden visual shock. The subject, I understand remains a matter of intense and often rancorous debate among academics and clinicians. Hair has been pulled in anger, I’m informed.

  8. You could well be right, I was too young to be aware of the launch of the Sierra but rather grew up among them during their pomp. From a very young age they never struck me as a car to be desired or admired, their design never stood out even admid the quite turgid fare on offer.

    While I am no great design student, and maybe I am missing the point, but I would strongly argue that with the Sierra it is not so much that people didn’t get the original design and more that it simply wasn’t good enough.

    I say again, the tale of this car could have been lifted from the BL book of how to design and make a car that promises much and delivers little.

    Styling that people just don’t like? Check

    Outdated engines? Check

    Sticking with RWD when the world has moved on? Check

    Slightly underperforms in most areas against the main class rival? Check

    Elements of the design changed at the last moment, compromising the design? Sounding familliar!

    1. I think the excitement around the Sierra came from the fact that it seemed to be part of a wider movement that started with the 1979 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and then developed with the Sierra and Audi 100, which arrived together. Their arrival in the autumn of ‘82 had a sort of a ‘multiplier’ / ‘reflected glory’ effect. Specifically, it showed that Ford were taking things like driver enjoyment and technology more seriously, as opposed to prioritising cost reduction and slick marketing.

      The impact of Ford actually being in the forefront of this movement was enormous and astonishing – it gave one such hope.

      At the same time, there were things like BL’s ECV 3 being presented. All of a sudden, the future was arriving and it wasn’t just limited to products from firms like Citroën. Cars were going to be streamlined, light, technologically advanced and exciting. It was into this environment that the Maestro and Montego were subsequently launched; the rasping sound of deflating balloons was deafening. They were basically very good cars, but their styling and (anticipated and highly-scrutinised) wobbly early reliability did them no favours.

      From memory, the Sierra wasn’t seen as ugly at the time, more that it was too avant-garde for its target audience. Conversely, BL often did technologically advanced cars with FWD, gas suspensions, etc, but which had functional or conservative styling, which was sometimes a result of extended development and confused product planning (Landcrab, 3-Litre, Maxi, Allegro, Maestro, etc, etc).

      Thank you to all involved with this series, by the way – it’s a real treat and I look forward to more.

    2. CE: Design is subjective, and it’s fine that you don’t see the significance of the Sierra. Not everyone does, nor indeed did everyone at the time. The Sierra’s design however was significant; no, it didn’t bring about world peace or cure male pattern baldness*, but it helped change the conversation amongst mainstream car design and emboldened others to push outward from their iterative silos. It was perhaps a flawed revolution, but perhaps we can agree that this is better than no revolution at all.

      We often devote a lot of ‘airtime’ to certain cars here on DTW, which are not necessarily the ones other outlets would be prepared to give credence to. Not simply to be contrary, but because in most cases, their stories are interesting. And I would assert, the story behind the Sierra is an interesting one.

      The Sierra as a product was (and I had a lot of experience of them at the time) entirely up to class standard – in fact its cabin was above average at the time, and to drive was competitive without being class-leading. On balance, it perhaps was not up to the promise of the exterior style, but that’s hardly the fault of the design team.

      *to paraphrase R. Herriott

  9. When Ford repeated the “jelly mould” process in the US with the 1986 Taurus , they learnt from their mistakes, with fwd included and less divisive styling.

    1. Hi Mervyn, the Taurus wasn’t Dearborn’s first go, Fords aero-revolution happened simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, development of the Taurus mirrored the development of the Scorpio.

      1983 – Thunderbird
      1984 – Tempo/Topaz
      1984 – Lincoln Mark VII

      Was there a similar controversy in the US? Let’s ask an expert in these matters, as he recounted during an oral interview in 1985 (which I have linked before, so of course many of you have read it already. Excerpted below are passages that relate directly to the conversation at hand):

      http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Design/Mitchell/mitchellinterview.htm

      __________________

      William L. Mitchell: This new Ford, I said [to] Telnack, I know him, and I said, I don’t what to say, but I tried to think what it reminds me of, and then I saw it the other day—a seal, little eyes and big fat ass!

      Q: Which one? You mean the Sierra?

      WM: Thunderbird.

      Q: Oh, the Thunderbird.

      WM: The little grille, the little thing down the road and the big round back.

      Q: What did he say?

      WM: Oh, he laughed.

      WM: But, this potato, I think the Ford [Thunderbird styling] looks like a cake of soap, you know, there’s nothing like anything good, like music, it’s got to be accent, like an airplane, you’ve got to have that windsplit soft, not rubbery. I come back—I’ll say this, for years you can tell a Thunderbird a mile away. Now, I see it [with] my wife driving back from Florida, “What the hell is—you know that thing, that rounded-off thing?” That’s a Thunderbird.

      Q: Well, I think their argument is that they want to get away from angles.

      WM: Well, it isn’t the case of angles. You can’t—that’s philosophy. That’s bullshit. Make a painting. You don’t describe a painting. Either you walk in and like it— …
      … Hell, it’s got it or it hasn’t.

      Q: But, basically, they said they wanted to get away from the boxy look—they’d had it.

      WM: Another thing they did, they said the door opens into the roof. Well, I had that on the Corvette—one car—but that’s back to the one-piece door. You get in there, the pillars are that thick. We went for years to get—that’s how the hardtop was born—to have little, thin upper. Now that—you get inside and stick your head around, all these portholes, it’s going back—heavy, rounded.

      __________________

      Note that WM was an equal opportunity, both sides do it, all around design troll by the time of this interview, in which he calls the interior of the C4 Corvette “Dracula’s dressing room! My wife said, “I don’t want to sit in here any longer and look at it!”… “it rides like a truck, God damn.”

  10. I would say that the Sierra does deserve a lot of air time and one of the reasons I enjoy this site is because of the time it gives to great in depth analysis. Thank you to everyone involved and sorry if it seems like I’m asking why bother with this particular car!

    I would have been far too youn to drive when the Sierra landed, so it was a fixed feature of childhood (particularly the ages when a lot of deep interest in cars can develop) and was viewed not so much as an individual but as a member of the gang, maybe this is why I don’t get it.

    Please, though, continue to convince me of the error of my ways.

    1. I think your question was a very interesting one, CE, as it made me think back to that period and reassess my reactions at the time.

      I recall that Car magazine had extensively trailed the Sierra as being The Next Big Thing, to the extent that they had almost tied themselves in to the fate of the car – it had to be pretty good for them to retain their credibility. The alternative would have been a really difficult and miserable article about what a let-down it was. In the end, they settled for it being very good, but not perfect, which is fair.

      It also made me think of the Rover SD1 which was launched 6 years before the Sierra. I guess the Rover looks aerodynamic, but it wasn’t sold as being overtly so, compared with its other virtues. Like the Sierra, it was a hatchback and people didn’t consider that to be the end of the world. After the P6, I think people expected something daring from Rover.

      You further prompted me to think of the 1984 Kadett / Astra, a car which, in booted form, competed with the Ford Orion, of course. I was trying to recall how daring I thought the Kadett / Astra was, given its advanced looks. I don’t think I was fantastically surprised by it. Perhaps I saw Vauxhall-Opel as being more adventurous, or I had come to expect ‘aero style’ by then.

      I recall someone who worked at a BMC dealership describing how excited they were when the Farina-styled models arrived in 1959. Once again, the future had arrived.

    2. You further prompted me to think of the 1984 Kadett / Astra, a car which, in booted form, competed with the Ford Orion, of course. I was trying to recall how daring I thought the Kadett / Astra was, given its advanced looks.

      I was at the 1984 Birmingham motor show for the public launch of the T-85 Kadett/Astra (as I had been for the Sierra two years previously). My recollection is that it was a big deal and pretty much Vauxhall’s “Sierra moment” in terms of launching their radical 1980’s aero car. I wasn’t even a teenager then, so take that with a pinch of salt. I specifically remember them making a big deal about the 0.30 drag coefficient of the GTE model. Funny how passé that seems now.

      I also read much later that GM were wrong footed by VW for the T-85 Kadett/Astra programme, because they were expecting the Mk2 Golf to be a much more radical design and it wasn’t.

    3. The difference between the tastes of Britain vs. mainland Europe in this particular segment turned out to be much greater than in other segments. The designers knew this, I give them credit for trying.

      Fast forward forty years and the same prejudices persist. Yet in the even more conservative E-segment, the Tesla Model S, a hatchback saloon outsells the Mercedes S-Class in just about every market. It’s what the Rover SD1 wanted to achieve, it’s the impetus for of the short lived C2 Audi 100 Avant, and it’s the holy grail that Ford were chasing with the Sierra (and Scorpio).

      I think perhaps it did come down to engines, in particular the Lima(nee Pinto) I4, because there was nothing wrong with the Cologne V6 (produced until 2011), except that only XR4 versions of the Sierra were equipped with it*. If they just had a better I4, the Sierra might have conquered the world.

      * Except the “Merkur” version imported to the US, saddled with the same turbocharged Pinto engine that was already deemed inadequate for the Mustang GT, by then replaced by an updated 5.0 V8, the very same engine that Ford of South Africa managed to fit into their Sierra XR8.

    4. I don’t think that engines played such an important role for the Sierra – it still was the era of carburettors with manual chokes.
      Other European manufacturers mostly made engines that weren’t that much better or even worse than the Pinto/Lima. Mercedes had only just pensioned off their old nail and replaced it by the M102/103, VAG’s EA827 wasn’t that much smoother, Opel still had the antediluvian CIH and with the exception of one or two much smaller Peugeot engines there was nothing better from France. The only engines that were significantly better than Ford’s were from BMW or the Lampredi DOHC and the long in the tooth Alfa.

    5. That 1984 Kadett was possibly worse than the Sierra – at least the Sierra looked OK in 4-door guise. The way the black plastic bumper of the Kadett merged into the grill was truly horrible – they had pulled the same trick with the first Corsa/ Nova, but with a lot more style.

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