The History of No. 57

“The Ford Sierra, it’s the leader of it’s class”…or so the advert campaign boasted in the late 1980’s. However, nineteen years on it soon became apparent it was going to take a lot more than just atmospheric music and a corny voice over to turn this well loved ‘rep mobile’ into a competitive race car.

Ford Sierra Publicity Shot

Ford Sierra Publicity Shot

The story of No.57 begins in the summer of 2004 as a chance finding in a classified section of a local paper.  Advertised as a 1991 Ford Sierra Sapphire 2.0 litre GLX, having two previous owners, with 98 000 miles on the clock and priced to clear at £600. It beckoned a closer look, although the big question was  would it be riddle with the dreaded rust which had taken hold of all the previous potential cars looked at……Surprisingly, on inspection the car proved to be a very solid and well looked after example, and with a little haggling over a slight tracking problem a deal was done at £530.

Okay so a ‘run of the mill’ family saloon may seem like an odd choice to base a track car on, but the Ford Sierra has one big advantage for building a budget racer.  The flagship of the Sierra range was the renowned Cosworth turbo version which is steeped in motorsport accolades, and with the lower models sharing an identical shell that meant there is a plentiful supply of reasonable priced second hand performance parts.

For the moment though performance would have to wait though as the first job was to strip out all none essential fittings such as the interior and all the creature comforts. Whilst lowering the weight this also gave a clean canvass to fit all the safety gear required for national level racing. This included a roll cage, plumbed-in fire extinguisher, race seat and harnesses, and electrical isolation fixtures. At

Debut race, Mallory Park '05

Debut race, Mallory Park '05

 this point the only performance enhancements made were the addition of adjustable damping and ride height suspension, and an upgrade of brake pad material. In this almost standard guise it was giving a baptism of fire in 2005 by entering it into the Ford Saloon Car Championship. As you would expect it was totally outclassed but even still it proved itself by holding its own against some of the much lighter, more powerful , smaller hatchbacks. But more importantly valuable driving experience was gained.

For the following season it was obvious more power was required, but a custom built race engine was out of the question and beyond the budget! So the extra BHP was found in the form of an old 3 litre V6 Essex engine that was out of an import Sierra that had come into the team’s ownership.  After the V6 Essex (an engine not released in the UK Sierra range) and gearbox was transplanted, No.57 had a few extra horses to play with and a very healthy increase in torque, which on average reduced lap times by around 1 to 2 seconds that season.  It was a quick fix, but realistically the improvement wasn’t enough.

2007 and 2008 saw a lot of development, many breakdowns, and disappointments until the right balance between enhancing  performance within a small budget and building a car that could be maintained was found. The work started to pay off with a promising and competitive test session at the end of 2008. This meant the formula for the 2009 season was set,  if still to be fully honed in.  It was decided the best bang for buck was the 2.9 litre Cosworth 24V V6 engine normally found in the Ford Scorpio. Once top of the range, these executive dinosaurs are now going for banger prices, making it a cheap and maintainable source of power. Even in standard form

Beyond Racer, Anglesey 09

Beyond Racer, Anglesey '09

these engines produce a handy 207 BHP and 207 LB/FT of torque. Once this was mated to a budget programmable ECU these figures were then raised to 219 BHP, with no internal mod’s required. It wasn’t just the engine that received attention during these couple of development seasons, the brakes, the suspension and the drive train all underwent heavy modification via a combination of using mostly second hand parts, and one-off team fabricated components. The result of all this work is a relatively quick, solid, budget racer which still has lots more development potential and untapped performance…Maybe after nineteen years the Ford PR words are finally coming to fruition, “The Ford Sierra’s time has come”!!

“The Ford Sierra, it’s the leader of it’s class”…or so the advert campaign boasted in the late 1980’s. However , nineteen  years on it soon became apparent it was going to take a lot more than just atmospheric music and a corny voice over to turn this well loved ‘rep mobile’ into a competitive race car.
The story of No.57 begins in the summer of 2004 as a chance finding in a classified section of a local paper.  Advertised as a 1991 Ford Sierra Sapphire 2.0 litre GLX, having two previous owners, with 98,000 miles on the clock and priced to clear at £600. It beckoned a closer look, although the big question was  would it be riddle with the dreaded rust which had taken hold of all the previous potential cars looked at. Surprisingly, on inspection the car proved to be a very solid and well looked after example, and with a little haggling over a slight tracking problem a deal was done at £530.
Okay so a ‘run of the mill’ family saloon may seem like an odd choice to base a track car on, but the Ford Sierra has one big advantage for building a budget racer.  The flagship of the Sierra range was the renowned Cosworth turbo version which is steeped in motorsport accolades, and with the lower models sharing an identical shell that meant there is a plentiful supply of reasonable priced second hand performance parts.
Performance would have to wait though as the first job was to strip out all none essential fittings such as the interior and all the creature comforts. Whilst lowering the weight this also gave a clean canvass to fit all the safety gear required for national level racing. This included a roll cage, plumbed-in fire extinguisher, race seat and harnesses, and electrical isolation fixtures. At this point the only performance enhancements made were the addition of adjustable damping and ride height suspension, and an upgrade of brake pad material. In this almost standard guise it was giving a baptism of fire in 2005 by entering it into the Ford Saloon Car Championship. As you would expect it was totally outclassed but even still it proved itself by holding its own against some of the much lighter, more powerful , smaller hatchbacks. But more importantly valuable driving experience was gained.
For the following season it was obvious more power was required, but a custom built race engine was out of the question and beyond the budget! So the extra BHP was found in the form of an old 3 litre V6 Essex engine that was out of an import Sierra that had come into the team’s ownership.  After the V6 Essex (an engine not released in the UK Sierra range) and gearbox was transplanted, No.57 had a few extra horses to play with and a very healthy increase in torque, which on average reduced lap times by around 1 to 2 seconds that season.  It was a quick fix, but realistically the improvement wasn’t enough.
2007 and 2008 saw a lot of development, many breakdowns, and disappointments until the right balance between enhancing  performance within a small budget and building a car that could be maintained was found. The work started to pay off with a promising and competitive test session at the end of 2008. This meant the formula for the 2009 season was set,  if still to be fully honed in.  It was decided the best bang for buck was the 2.9 litre Cosworth 24V V6 engine normally found in the Ford Scorpio. Once top of the range, these executive dinosaurs are now going for banger prices, making it a cheap and maintainable source of power. Even in standard form these engines produce a handy 207 BHP and 207 LB/FT of torque. Once this was mated to a budget programmable ECU these figures were then raised to 219 BHP and 210LB/FT, with no internal mod’s required. It wasn’t just the engine that received attention during these couple of development seasons, the brakes, the suspension and the drive train all underwent heavy modification via a combination of using mostly second hand parts, and one-off team fabricated components. The result of all this work is a relatively quick, solid, budget racer which still has lots more development potential and untapped performance…Maybe after nineteen years the Ford PR words are finally coming to fruition, “The Ford Sierra’s time has come”!!

No.57 Techinal Specification >

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Mallory Park, National Raceday 18/04/10


Trackside with Beyond Racing