The Ford Sierra was a firm favourite in South Africa throughout the 1980s and early '90s. The Sierra XR-8 (watch our video here) was the most powerful version that was specially developed in South Africa. However, few enthusiasts remember the lesser-known 3.0i RS (but should).
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
When was the last time you saw a perfectly-maintained Ford Sierra? A lot of enthusiasts focus on collectable Porsches, BMWs and Mercedes-Benz cars, but we often forget about the more affordable, yet special cars from the likes of Mazda, Nissan, Toyota and Ford. Even in the case of the latter brands examples of some models have become rather desirable...
Given its mass-market intentions, there were a host of run-of-the-mill Sierra production models, of course, but there were also a number of exciting editions for enthusiasts. This included the 2000 GL Alpine Turbo (140kW/278Nm), the XR6 (113kW/233Nm) and then the rather obvious one, the XR-8 (161kW/374Nm). Fitted with a 4.9-litre, V8 engine, CAR magazine tested it in the January issue of 1985 and achieved an impressive 0-100kph acceleration time of 6.95 seconds.
One of the models that arrived towards the end of the Sierra’s production run was the 3.0i RS (for RennSport). It also came fitted with the venerable Essex 3.0-litre, V6 engine, as used in other models in the rest of the range, but in the RS it produced 117kW and 260Nm as it now featured Lucas fuel injection while several of the internal parts were also upgraded.
Interestingly, the fitment of electronic fuel injection was no easy task. The Essex engine was no longer used anywhere else in the world, so the entire system and accompanying parts had to be developed from scratch. So SAMCOR (the local Ford/Mazda manufacturer/distributor) went international, and according to period reports testing wasn't only done "one the bench", but included winter testing in Europe and heat testing in America's Death Valley!
The result of all the hard work was a more refined, yet still punch engine. The 3.0i RS could dash to 100kph in only 9.27 seconds and had a top speed of 210kph. The car was also fitted with a number of special exterior parts, such as a rear spoiler, white striping and colour-coded bumpers. These were significant updates for a car that was essentially a "last-hurrah" model before the Sierra was discontinued.
The owner of this car has numerous other South African, Italian and other European cars in his collection, but his appreciation for a clean Sierra such as this one is on par with any of the other, arguably more desirable cars in his collection.
“According to the previous owner, not many of these cars are left in South Africa. The previous owner lived in Cape Town and put this Sierra on the market around two years ago. I bought it and transported it up to Johannesburg to add it to my collection. I have a number of South African-only cars in my collection, be it road or race cars.
“Unfortunately, the wheels are not original, but I’m currently searching for correct (5.5J) alloy rims. If I can’t find them locally, I’ll have to import them from overseas, probably the UK.
“The car was in a good condition when I bought it, but I did take it to a workshop to have minor work done to it. That included taking out small dents on the bodywork. We thankfully didn’t find any rust on the car. Today you don’t easily find any Sierra in this condition, not to even mention a 3.0i RS.
“When I bought the car, the cabin was in the exact same condition as it is currently.” The odometer indicates 114900km and, looking at the state of the cabin, I won’t be surprised if it is a true 114900km.
The only other things that the owner would like to change are the rear lights which feature darkened covers, but that should be easy to source. Other than that, it has been an easy car to service and maintain.
“I haven’t yet taken this car to any motorshows or significant outings, but I did take our Sierra XR-8 to the Consours South Africa event in the past where it got a third place.”
Today there might only be the Focus hatchback carrying the “RS” moniker, but a few decades ago there were several other Ford products using these letters, and this Sierra was proudly one of them.