Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Profile

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Ford Sapphire (Mk1) General Information

First let’s clear up some name confusion. The Sierra was traditionally a unique, funktional liftback. Only after its facelift in 1987 a saloon version was offered. Confusing for some maybe as this saloon is badged Sierra on most markets, but referred to here as the Sapphire. Simply for Ford UK made that distinction at their home market, which such generally makes it easier to identify the saloon from other, original versions Sierra. It’s very much like an Escort saloon would be badged Orion, an upmarket Consul would be badget Granada, a Taunus would be badget Cortina in UK....
The Mk1 tag for this version Ford Sierra might be confusing too, since this is the facelifted version. For many it felt like more than a facelift, for with this facelift the saloon version was added. Plus it was a well notable change as the Sierra range lost its characterful, futuristic, aerodynamic closed front for a proper but non-unique, conservative front grill. Yet Ford insisted it was only a minor facelift (and on closer looks that’s correct, although this is the first time the Sapphire name appears. I.e. from A-pillar to the rear and the interior was 99% identical to the previous version. Compare as well to the Cortina Mk4 vs Mk5 scenario, the facelift was no bigger than on the Sierra in 1987 and Mk5 was never an official tag for the Taunus/Cortina! Read also the first chapter of the Escort Mk5 RS2000 story!) and therefore this was still the Mk1. In fact we don’t even need these tags, as there never was a Mk2 Sierra, the name being replaced by Mondeo (mon dieu, what a girly, eau-de-toiletty name) after only one generation.

Indeed that there only was one real generation of the Sierra, but that with a distinct facelift, it does make it easier to call the facelift the Mk2. So this is the Mk2 if you want. Anyway, for some reason the post-facelift Sierra was never rallied as a liftback and a Cosworth version of the liftback not even available, while a saloon (Sapphire) version did never exist pre-facelift, making the car look very different for many fans.

It was a questionable attempt by Ford to bring out this rally car. Of course, their dilemma was that they had a turbo Sierra (Cosworth) and a 4x4 Sierra (XR4x4), but not the combination of both. But why did it take so long to create the combination? And when they did, why did it have to be the saloon version of the facelifted Sierra? The Sapphire Cosworth 4x4 has one novelty, as it was the first rally car with a 7-speed gearbox.

The Sapphire was a big and heavy saloon, like a taxi. It was even too big to turn it into a touring car. The Mitsubishi Galant and the Subaru Legacy started a trend to rally huge taxi saloons. The European car manufacturers found that weird (ignoring the Audi 200 here, as this was only rallied because it was Audi's only turbo car at that time). So why on Earth does Ford perfectly follow that trend? As it turned out, every Ford driver bar maybe Francois Delecour criticised the size of the car. Partly because of this, the Sapphire had a tendency to stubbornly understeer, which didn't make the car feel more nimble.

While the car came much later than could have been, it is interesting how severely Ford prepared for the Sapphire program. At the start of 1990, 8 months before the Sapphire Cosworth 4x4's intended debut, the operation gained full momentum. When Pentti Airikkala became the surprise winner of the RAC 1989, Ford signed him on the spot before somebody else would. Then 4 cars had been prepared for a BRC program: G93 CHK, G95 CHK, G96 CHK & G97 CHK. "96" & "97" were RWD versions of the Sapphire as the 4x4 was not yet produced in sufficient numbers for homologation. These RWD cars were given to Malcolm Wilson and Colin McRae for a BRC program. On the same events "95" was given into the hands of Pentti Airikkala for test and development. "95" was a 4x4 version in groupN+ spec and clocked the miles as a course opening car. "93" was a full 4x4 groupA test car and Pentti started the national section of the Scottish Rally in June 1990 with it. The funny bit about this story is, that once the Sapphire Cosworth 4x4 was homologated, it was Russell Brookes to turn up at the Manx Rally 1990 with a Sapphire that was privately converted to a 4x4, "E28 JWK" (a 1988 Coventry reg!). It was Russell and his private assembly that not only gave the Sapphire Cosworth 4x4 it's World debut – it was a debut win as well!

In WRC events the Sapphire never won anything. But it might have been a weird case of driver choice. Nothing wrong with the choice of Pentti Airikkala, a reknown expert for testing and set up. Pentti suddenly left the team after only 3 WRC starts, when he decided to retire from the sport following a huge crash on the RAC. Though Pentti was leading the 1990 RAC at that point! But Massimo Biasion never looked anywhere near as happy in the Ford as he did in the Lancia. But first for 1991 Ford mysteriously dumped their own home bread super talents Colin McRae and Mark Lovell in favour of Lancia boss son Alessandro Fiorio, who helped avoiding Ford to beat Lancia. Fiorio had many accidents and never finished higher than 9th. What a contrast to take the then totally unknown and unexperienced Francois Delecour into the team, who would have clearly won his debut event in the car, had it not been for a mechanical problem in the very last stage! For 1993 Ford replaced the Sapphire Cosworth with the Escort Cosworth - the car they should have used in the first place!

Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Related Content

Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Evolutions

Model & Evo. (Activity)
Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Cosworth (90-95) 300/6500 408/4500 4494.1698.1369 1190 (4) RWD (2608)
Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Cosworth 4x4 (90-95) 300/6500 408/4500 4494.1698.1369 1220 (4.1) 4x4 (2608)

Random Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Photos

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Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Results

This is an unofficial Car Results list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego hh:mm:ss
28th. 1994 WRC Rally of Finland J. Viita . UNKNOWN #37 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
7th. 1993 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo O. Burri C. Hoffmann #15 [UNKNOWN] 6:51:03
15th. 1993 WRC Rally of Finland E. Jurvanen K. Jokinen #30 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
13th. 1992 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo P. Bos . UNKNOWN #27 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
4th. 1992 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo F. Delecour D. Grataloup #7 [UNKNOWN] 6:59:02
8th. 1992 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo M. Biasion T. Siviero #3 [UNKNOWN] 7:11:18
17th. 1992 WRC Swedish Rally E. Jurvanen M. Berglund #41 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
2nd. 1992 WRC Rallye de Portugal M. Biasion T. Siviero #7 [UNKNOWN] 6:26:10
7th. 1992 WRC Rallye de Portugal M. Bardolet J. Autet #17 [UNKNOWN] 6:53:55
2nd. 1992 WRC Tour de Corse F. Delecour D. Grataloup #6 [UNKNOWN] 5:36:15
7th. 1992 WRC Tour de Corse M. Biasion T. Siviero #2 [UNKNOWN] 5:42:21
3rd. 1992 WRC Acropolis Rally M. Biasion T. Siviero #8 [UNKNOWN] 7:14:33
5th. 1992 WRC Acropolis Rally F. Delecour D. Grataloup #3 [UNKNOWN] 7:27:22
5th. 1992 WRC Rally of Finland M. Biasion T. Siviero #4 [UNKNOWN] 4:41:46
7th. 1992 WRC Rally of Finland S. Lindholm T. Hantunen #22 [UNKNOWN] 4:43:58
16th. 1992 WRC Rally of Finland E. Jurvanen M. Berglund #38 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
11th. 1992 WRC Rally of Finland E. Saarenpää L. Hirvijärvi #23 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
3rd. 1992 WRC Rallye San Remo F. Delecour D. Grataloup #4 [UNKNOWN] 5:53:53
4th. 1992 WRC Rallye San Remo M. Biasion T. Siviero #2 [UNKNOWN] 5:54:06
15th. 1992 WRC Rallye Catalunya E. Jurvanen M. Berglund #23 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
5th. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Biasion T. Siviero #3 [UNKNOWN] 5:26:47
9th. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Wilson B. Thomas #8 [UNKNOWN] 5:35:26
13th. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Brookes N. Wilson #67 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
3rd. 1991 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo F. Delecour A. Pauwels #12 [UNKNOWN] 7:02:33
7th. 1991 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo M. Wilson N. Grist #15 [UNKNOWN] 7:08:36
10th. 1991 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo A. Fiorio L. Pirollo #5 [UNKNOWN] 7:21:03
16th. 1991 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo P. Bos . UNKNOWN #23 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
3rd. 1991 WRC Tour de Corse F. Cunico S. Evangelisti #16 [UNKNOWN] 7:11:39
5th. 1991 WRC Tour de Corse M. Wilson N. Grist #14 [UNKNOWN] 7:17:19
7th. 1991 WRC Rally New Zealand B. Stokes J. Judd #15 [UNKNOWN] 7:31:40
7th. 1991 WRC Rally of Finland A. Vatanen B. Berglund #8 [UNKNOWN] 4:21:52
29th. 1991 WRC Rally of Finland E. Jurvanen . UNKNOWN #51 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
4th. 1991 WRC Rallye San Remo F. Delecour A. Pauwels #6 [UNKNOWN] 6:44:41
9th. 1991 WRC Rallye San Remo A. Fiorio L. Pirollo #3 [UNKNOWN] 6:50:12
10th. 1991 WRC Rallye San Remo M. Wilson N. Grist #11 [UNKNOWN] 6:55:18
3rd. 1991 WRC Rallye Catalunya F. Delecour D. Grataloup #4 [UNKNOWN] 6:46:20
4th. 1991 WRC Rallye Catalunya M. Bardolet A. Rodriguez #11 [UNKNOWN] 6:50:22
6th. 1991 WRC Rally of Great Britain F. Delecour D. Grataloup #8 [UNKNOWN] 6:02:04
10th. 1991 WRC Rally of Great Britain L. Aitken-Walker T. Thörner #25 [UNKNOWN] 6:23:09
18th. 1991 WRC Rally of Great Britain G. Jones R. James #48 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
14th. 1990 WRC Rallye San Remo M. Duez A. Lopes #18 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
11th. 1990 WRC Rallye San Remo P. Airikkala R. McNamee #5 [UNKNOWN] 7:58:43
6th. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain C. McRae D. Ringer #27 [UNKNOWN] 5:53:17
9th. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain A. Fiorio L. Pirollo #12 [UNKNOWN] 5:59:22
35th. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain R. Brookes N. Wilson #22 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00

Ford Sapphire (Mk1) Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 1993 WRC Rally of Finland J. Viita . UNKNOWN #29 [UNKNOWN] SS6 steering
Ret. 1993 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo P. Bos M. Rousseau #20 [UNKNOWN] SS2 electrics
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain G. Evans H. Davies #25 [UNKNOWN] SS99 crash
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain E. Jurvanen M. Berglund #41 [UNKNOWN] SS9 withdrawn
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally of Great Britain P. Doughty L. Jenkins #36 [UNKNOWN] SS33 engine
Ret. 1992 WRC Rallye Catalunya F. Delecour D. Grataloup #2 [UNKNOWN] SS11 crash
Ret. 1992 WRC Rallye Catalunya M. Bardolet J. Autet #10 [UNKNOWN] SS25 propshaft
Ret. 1992 WRC Rallye San Remo F. Cunico S. Evangelisti #6 [UNKNOWN] SS22 withdrawn
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally of Finland F. Delecour D. Grataloup #8 [UNKNOWN] SS11 crash
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally of Finland J. Viita . UNKNOWN #40 [UNKNOWN] SS29 engine
Ret. 1992 WRC Rally New Zealand B. Stokes J. Judd #16 [UNKNOWN] SS13 crash
Ret. 1992 WRC Rallye de Portugal F. Delecour D. Grataloup #3 [UNKNOWN] SS15 engine
Ret. 1992 WRC Swedish Rally S. Lindholm T. Hantunen #17 [UNKNOWN] SS9 gearbox
Ret. 1992 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo D. Depping K. Wendel #28 [UNKNOWN] SS11 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Wilson N. Grist #18 [UNKNOWN] SS13 transmission
Ret. 1991 WRC Rally of Great Britain G. Evans H. Davies #23 [UNKNOWN] SS16 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Rallye San Remo F. Cunico S. Evangelisti #8 [UNKNOWN] SS12 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Rally of Finland S. Lindholm C. Wrede #16 [UNKNOWN] SS21 steering
Ret. 1991 WRC Acropolis Rally F. Delecour A. Pauwels #5 [UNKNOWN] SS21 differential
Ret. 1991 WRC Acropolis Rally M. Wilson N. Grist #16 [UNKNOWN] SS26 driveshaft
Ret. 1991 WRC Acropolis Rally A. Fiorio L. Pirollo #10 [UNKNOWN] SS30 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Tour de Corse B. Beguin J. Andrié #9 [UNKNOWN] SS18 suspension
Ret. 1991 WRC Tour de Corse F. Delecour A. Pauwels #5 [UNKNOWN] SS22 differential
Ret. 1991 WRC Rallye de Portugal A. Fiorio L. Pirollo #8 [UNKNOWN] SS7 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Rallye de Portugal M. Wilson N. Grist #14 [UNKNOWN] SS7 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Rallye de Portugal F. Delecour A. Pauwels #4 [UNKNOWN] SS11 crash
Ret. 1991 WRC Swedish Rally G. Evans H. Davies #16 [UNKNOWN] SS11 crash
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain P. Airikkala R. McNamee #1 [UNKNOWN] SS16 crash
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Wilson N. Grist #8 [UNKNOWN] SS24 engine
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Great Britain M. Duez A. Lopes #28 [UNKNOWN] SS20 engine
Ret. 1990 WRC Rallye San Remo F. Cunico S. Evangelisti #20 [UNKNOWN] SS5 throttle cable
Ret. 1990 WRC Rallye San Remo M. Wilson N. Grist #10 [UNKNOWN] SS25 crash
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Finland P. Airikkala R. McNamee #8 [UNKNOWN] SS4 gearbox
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Finland M. Wilson N. Grist #12 [UNKNOWN] SS18 gearbox
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally of Finland F. Cunico S. Evangelisti #20 [UNKNOWN] SS20 crash
Ret. 1990 WRC Rally New Zealand B. Stokes I. Latham #24 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?