Cosworth-off: Real v. Replicas

Is there a better known name across multiple marques than Cosworth? From the DFV formula one engine to Can-Am, Touring Cars to Rally, I can’t think of a more versatile or storied engine supplier. Just the other day, Paul took a look at an expensive and questions asked 1986 190E 2.3-16V Cosworth, and that got me thinking about some listings I’ve run across. Today, then, I have an interesting question and two very different cars that share one word – Cosworth. Both are legends in their own right and both are rare to see in the U.S.; and each for each model I have a valuable original and a replica. Which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16V Evolution II on eBay

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1988 Merkur XR4Ti with 5,000 Miles

As enthusiasts, oddly we often lament new cars. Undoubtedly, newer models turn better, stop better and accelerate faster than most of the cars that they replace. They return better fuel economy, have more gears, and are generally more reliable. In a crash, they’ll save your life and some will even call the police for you. Impressive? Sure, without a doubt. But if I had a nickle for every time I heard how some enthusiast would rather have a brand new example of a car from their youth, I’d be a rich man. I’ve heard it from all sources; desire for a bullet-proof reliable new W126 S-Class, longing for a return of the real Quattro with locking differentials, dreams of finding a new E30 M3 or 3.2 Carrera. But if you’re a bit different, perhaps you’re one of the devoted Merkur fans – and your dream could be realized:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Merkur XR4TI on eBay

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1985 Merkur XR4Ti

It’s always interesting to see automakers test the US waters and offer intriguing models outside of the bread and butter lineup. Such was the case with Merkur, Ford’s attempt at capturing a bit of the Euro car buying public in the 1980s. Sold through Lincoln/Mercury dealers, two vehicles were on offer under this badge: the five-door Scorpio and the three-door XR4Ti we see here. Based on the Ford Sierra, this car had a 2.3 liter turbocharged four cylinder under the hood similar to the Mustang SVO’s powerplant. Combining decent power with hatchback practicality wasn’t enough to garner significant sales and after a few short years in the US, the brand was pulled from dealers. There are still a few of these captive imports running around today, like this XR4Ti for sale in Ohio that had an overhaul in 1999.

Year: 1985
Model: XR4Ti
Engine: 2.3 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 161,000 mi
Price: Reserve auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Merkur XR4Ti on eBay

1985 XR4Ti 2.3 Turbocharged 5 speed. ***Near new car!!***

Mineral Blue with grey leather.

I have service records from Liberty Ford in Vermillion Ohio extensively mechanically restoring this car. One receipt alone is for 12960 dollars!! This receipts shows a full engine rebuild, new struts, rear end, turbo, and about 4 pages worth of other replacement parts. There are other receipts as well. The work done to this car makes it one of a kind. The work was done in 1999 with 148k on the odometer. The car now shows 162k and counting. Its like having a 27 year old car that is really only 14 years old and has 14k miles on it mechanically.

The paint is still very shiny and presents well, some minor wear and tear from age and user like dings, scraches. The paint on the spoiler does have some clear delaminating around the edges and the spoiler is also cracked by the windshield wiper arm. The wheels are refinished and look like new with new tires with only a few hundred miles on them.

In July 2013, the tires, calipers, rotors, pads, the AC receiver dryer, and expansion valve, blower motor rebuilt, and clutch quadrant were all replaced by the previous owner. The interior is in very good shape with reupholstered leather seats and a hard cover on the dash. There is wear and tear from age and use, some sun damage to plastics, headliner worn some, monor staining here and there, overall cleans up very well.

Its starts up and runs/shifts great, no noise from the rear end or transmission. This is a turn key ready to drive home car! AC blows very cold and heat is very hot! Heated seat option still works great also!

Rare, rear wheel drive European Ford, very much like a European Mustang. Quick, great handling, fun car that can be driven every day or kept as an investment. Great car!! Just drove on a trip to Michigan for work over 400 miles. Runs and drives excellent, would not hesitate to drive anywhere, any distance!! Excellent gas mileage also.

Bought for my daughter, but as a new driver she is having trouble with a manual and we want to get her an automatic. Consider partial trades of work truck, beaters, ATV, Motorcycles, non running, plus cash. Drive your beater to me and drive this classic turbo home!

Some things I am also interested in:

71-73 Vega Hatchback, Citation X-11, 1988 Fiero GT, Chevy LUV, Monza Mirage or Spyder, Corvair, 82 or 86 Mustang GT, 87-92 Mustang 5.0, other interesting trades considered.

Buyer responsible for shipping or pickup. I will deliver for 1.00 a mile round trip to you or to a shipping terminal for you, but please ask about price and availablity first. Any delivery costs must be paid up front along with the deposit. Good luck bidding!


An eBayer asked about a drivetrain vibration this car had, below is my answer.

“The special drive shaft set up was rebuilt and crossmember and trans bushings/mounts were replaced by the previous owner along with new tires, I believe thats everything he said he replaced/fixed. It runs pretty smooth, but there still a slight vibration over about 72 mph. I drove 400 miles on all highway speeds on a trip to Michigan and it was great up to that speed and not horrible after that. The previous owner said the only thing he did not swap was the rear u-joint, so mabye that would help clean it up. Thanks.”

One thing that always strikes me in the US is the excuses I hear for not learning how to drive a manual transmission. When I was learning how to drive, there was no automatic in the house and the refrain from my father was simple “you can learn to drive a manual or not drive at all.” If it were my kid and I bought a neat ride like this as basic transportation, well, this would be it. I wouldn’t be trading vehicles. Unless you were missing a leg or had other physical ailments, there’s really not much of an excuse to not master three pedals.

OK, off of my soapbox. It’s quite an impressive amount of money that’s been invested in this Merkur over the years, but at the end of the day, what do you have? A Ford that is not so rare on the other side of the pond. There’s been a fair amount of bidding activity on this one, but I would be surprised to see this car crest $4,500 or so, as that puts it into territory occupied by Audi Quattros and E30s of the day. Still a neat piece to reflect back on and wonder what might have been had more people taken an interest.


1989 Ford Sierra Cosworth

Jeremy Clarkson said it best: “I love a fast Ford.” While I’m not the biggest Ford fanatic, there have been models from the Blue Oval that have caught my eye, specifically those from Europe. While the US market was given a taste of the bread and butter Ford Sierra in the form of the Merkur XR4Ti, we never got to sample some of the tastier examples, such as the RS Cosworth.

Beginning with a 2.0 liter four cylinder, the RS added a DOHC Cosworth head, Garrett turbocharger and intercooler for an output of around 200 hp. These models were built in Genk, Belgium by Ford’s Special Vehicle Engineering Group. So, while this isn’t a true German vehicle, many ordinary Sierras emerged from the Cologne, Germany factory. One could consider this a relative of one of the most successful European Ford models of the 1980s.

1990 Ford Sierra Cosworth on eBay

You are bidding on a wonderfully preserved 22,432 miles 1989 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth. Originally manufactured for the British market, it was imported to Japan when new and lived in a private collection until we imported it to Canada in 2004. Since it’s arrival in Canada it was added to my personal collection and it has been driven only 1,132 miles. It is now properly registered in British Columbia, Canada. This is a true 2 Liter Cosworth powered machine – 204HP mated to the Ford’s reliable T5 transmission propelling 2600lb chassis. The Exterior color is Moonstone Blue Metallic, the interior is Dark Gray Leather. As you can see from the pictures – the condition is “As New”. It is true “Museum” quality. The body is straight and there are no dents, the paint is original and in excellent condition. No corrosion anywhere, no curb marks on the wheels. The tires are as new. The interior is spotless, the leather is soft and supple, no tears or scruffs. The dash is in excellent condition, no cracks or warping. The carpets and headliner are as new. The stereo is Japanese market Sony with 10 disk CD changer mounted in the trunk. Everything works. The AC is ice cold. There are no oil leaks. The car is fully serviced and there are no mechanical issues. All fluids have been changed in 2011. Service records are available. This exiting automobile drives exceptionally well – power delivery is smooth and seamless. The transmission shifts smoothly and positively. The handling is neutral and controlled. The 4 piston brakes are race proven. The exhaust sound is intoxicating.

Complete safety and mechanical inspections were performed on this vehicle upon its importation from Japan: there are no oil leaks, all fluids and filters were replaced. All suspension bushings are good. Independent party pre-purchase inspection at your expense prior to bidding is welcomed and strongly encouraged.

As you can see from the pictures, this is one exceptional vehicle. Please, do not e-mail me with ridiculous offers, I will not respond to them. I will, however, answer all serious inquiries promptly and will provide all additional information serious buyers might require.

This vehicle is listed for sale locally. It can be viewed in our showroom in New Westminster, BC, Canada. Attention US bidders! As noted earlier, this vehicle was sold new in UK, which makes it non-compliant with US DOT. EPA does not get involved with vehicles that are 20 years old or older. Some modification may be required to make this car DOT compliant.

For me, this car is simply awesome. Cosworth engine, great color, amazing condition and smart stance. I like the fact that it is a sedan, as well. True, the styling is a bit more formal, but it sets it apart from the multitude of hatchback models on the used market. If only it weren’t for the shackles imposed on car enthusiasts by the United States government, this would be a car that I would seriously consider snapping up.

Recently, the British show Wheeler Dealers had a segment highlighting the Sierra Cosworth:


1988 Merkur XR4Ti With 73k Miles

Sharing the same turbocharged, four cylinder engine with the rare Ford Mustang SVO, the Merkur XR4Ti was one of those captive imports that never quite caught on in the US market. Known as the Ford Sierra in other markets, this replacement for the Cortina and Taunus went on to campaign successfully in touring car and rally series racing. Here’s a clean, low mileage example that has been repainted in Virginia.

You’re bidding on a pristine Merkur XR4Ti with 73,887 original miles. Equipped with a 4 cylinder turbocharged engine and a smooth shifting 5 speed manual transmission. The vehicle has no major mechanical issues, it runs and drives great! The exterior of the vehicle has been repainted to its original color, pearl white and has no major flaws at all. The interior has all new carpet throughout and two newly re-upholstered front seats. This little Merkur has all the bells an whistles including: Power windows, factory A/C, CD player (aftermarket), cruise control, sunroof, leather seats, heated seats, and much more. Brand new tires and a fresh Virginia State Inspection this jewel is ready for it’s new owner!

With about a week left of bidding and a no reserve auction, this will be a good indication of where the market is these days for these cars. Personally, these aren’t the most desirable vehicles, but it could prove to be a cheap daily driver or an interesting subject at the next local European car meet.


1985 Merkur XR4Ti WRC Replica

Rallying has always fascinated me. In my opinion, it could very well be the most demanding of motorsports. It has also brought us some of the most legendary sporting cars to hit the streets, including the Audi Quattro, Lancia Delta Integrale and Renault R5 Turbo. A lesser known example to hit the circuit was the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth driven by Didier Auriol in 1988. An enthusiast in Canada has a replica of this very race car for sale, albeit based on the North American Merkur version of the Sierra.

The seller states:

1985 Merkur XR4Ti, 2.3lt Turbo 300+ HP, 5 Speed, Quaif LSD and much more. Replica of Didier Auriol’s WRC winning Panach Sierra Cosworth in ’88 Tour De Corse. Street legal & passes Ontario E-testing and safety inspections. Car was built to 2006 CARS rally regulations. Minimal upgrades to bring up to current rules.
This car ran in the ’07 & ’08 Targa Newfoundland tarmac Rally in Open Class. Car is amzingly fast and an absolute blast to drive and could be even faster and finish higher with an experienced crew. Never crashed or wrecked.

Car is highly modified. Car was featured in the January 2010 Performance Ford Magazine and been shown at the All Ford Nationals in Carlisle many times. This car can easily be configured to run gravel with only a few minor changes and it fits in the Group 5 class, Max Attack as well as the Classic division. This would be an excellent car to campain for the 2WD championship. Car comes with many many extra parts, 8 tires (Michelin Asphalt), 20 wheels, spare body pannels&glass, mechanical components, trans, diffs etc. Never been wrecked or crashed. Car has less than 3,000 miles on it since it was built!


-Ford 2.3 lt Lima turbo block .020” overbore, balanced and knife edge crank, shotpeened con-rods, Sealed Power coated pistons, compression lowered to 7.5:1, modified oiling system with external cooler, ARP hardware throughout, Esslinger aluminum flywheel.

-Cast iron head, extensively ported with larger valves, Ford Motorsport A237 roller camshaft, Race Engineering adjustable cam gear, custom made engine mounts.

-SC50 T3/T04e Turbo, ATR downpipe with Tial external wastegate, full 3” front to rear exhaust with catalytic converter in place, Turbosmart dual stage boost controller, Turbosmart Supersonic blow-off valve, RS500 style Intercooler, Custom C&R aluminum dual pass racing radiator w/dual fans, Custom made Phil Marshal intake manifold, Walboro 255 fuel pump, 42 lb/hr injectors, SDS programmable stand-a-lone engine management system from Western Motorsports with A/F ratio manual adjust & A/F readout with data logging, engine HP is estimated at around 300 @ 15 psi boost (low setting) and turbo is rated to 30 psi but never run at that level. Sorry no dyno sheet available as it was road tuned.

-Ford Ranger serpentine belt conversion for simplification and ease of obtaining replacement parts. Also allows for much better & larger alternator options.

-Mustang WorldClass T5 5-speed trans, Goldstar 4 puck racing clutch, MGW racing shifter, 1 piece HD Mustang driveshaft, David Godfrey billet aluminum clutch quadrant and manual clutch adjuster.

-7.5” XR4Ti/Sierra diff with 3.64:1 gear on a Quaif LSD, MC2 HD poly diff mount, Powerflex Polly bushed throughout.

-Rear disk brake conversion using Thunderbird Turbocoupe cross drilled rotors & Calipers, front Mustang PBR 2 pot brake conversion with Contour SVT cross drilled & grooved rotors, EBC Red-Stuff pads all around, David Godfrey master cylinder adapter with a Thunderbird master cylinder, Willwood manual bias valve mounted to the hydraulic handbrake, hydraulic handbrake from Demon Tweeks.

-Front Leda coilovers with 500 lb springs, rear Gaz shocks with 750 lb inboard springs.

-Larger Ford Sierra Cosworth swaybars f&r

-Custom David Godfrey front strut bar with Caster/Camber adjuster plates

-Fiberglass body kit from MC Rally (mostly RS but RS500 wings)

-8xFactory Ford 16×7.5 RS wheels with 8xMichelin PilotSport Cup tires (4 used, 4 new), also 12×15” Mustang 10 hole rims for mounting of Gravel tires.

-Custom made skid plate with copies of original Ford 909 WRC cross member & front tow hooks

-1x Sparco Rev Racing FIA Cert seat, 2xSchroth 6 point harnesses good to end of 2010, Sparco quick release steering wheel, Custom instrument cluster with all Autometer gauges (tach, speedo, fuel, coolant temp, oil temp, exhaust temp, oil pressure, boost, voltage), Terratrip 303+ Rally computer with remote display & reset

-Terraphone Intercom system + 2 TerraPhone practice headsets, wired for 2-way radio with Motorola antenna mount on roof, video camera mount, Custom roll cage by CSC Racing in Newmarket- Ontario (will need 1 additional roof cross brace added to comply with latest rules), Sparco co-driver foot rest, 2 Fire Extinguishers, Triangle kit and more.

-Euro Ford Sierra headlights, fog lights all relayed. Panel switches for auxiliary lights . Air horns with additional co-driver foot switch. Moroso battery box mounted in rear seat area with new sealed Optima Yellow Top batter, battery kill switch in dash & labeled. 3 or 4 sets of vehicle keys.

-Many boxes of spare parts, engine parts, f&r subframes, body parts (doors, hood), diffs, , Factory shop manuals, and much much more included with car.

The seller states the vehicle was appraised at $35,000, so I’d guess the reserve is north of $20,000. Race cars are never an easy sell, but given this vehicle is street legal, it may just fit the bill for a certain buyer. It certainly is a nice tribute to an important part of WRC history, and would make a great conversation piece for vintage race events.