14 February 2012

30 Years of the Ford Sierra

Everyone was in for a shock on Ford's radical replacement for the Cortina.

THIS year it will be 30 years ago when Ford shocked the public. When it unveiled the Sierra back in October 1982, as the replacement for the venerable Cortina.

The Sierra stunned the public with its startling looks. There was no car on the road that looked like it with its striking design. The streamlined, jellymould shapes penned by Patrick le Quement, was a radical departure from the ultra conservative Cortina.

In its early days, the Sierra didn't get the wow response that Ford anticipated. Quite the opposite in fact, as some couldn't stomach the controversial new looks. Avid Ford fans didn't warm to the Sierra's bold styling and dismissed it because it didn't look like a Ford.

The Sierra didn't take off right away because it was too far ahead of its time. It was a radical new car that was pitched in a very conservative market. This resulted in early Sierras being slow sellers for the Blue Oval. Arch-rival Vauxhall, took the lead in the sales charts with the more conventional looking Cavalier.

Under the skin, the Sierra was a conventional car - just like any Ford. It also shared most of the oily bits with the Granada and the outgoing Cortina. Avaiable as a practical five and three door hatchback, a four door Sapphire saloon and a cavernous estate.

Ford also offered a wider range of models in the Sierra range than they did with its predecessor. Ranging from the sensible LX models, top of the range Ghias, the surefooted XR4x4 and the legendary Cosworths.

Soon after, the public widely accepted the Sierra as its distinctive shape matured. This was soon reflected in the sales Ford picked up of its family car, thus becoming a familiar sight. Proving that it was a gamble the Blue Oval took had paid off.

Patrick le Quement's work on the Sierra, also shaped up a new design language across Ford's line up of cars in the 1980s. Not only that, it  was a revolution in automotive design. The aerodynamic, jellymould shapes was influential. It was also adapted on cars made by other manufacturers, such as the MK2 Vauxhall Astra for example.

After the controversy and criticism Ford got and suffered with the Sierra in its early days. In their future cars, they decided to play it safe with more conservative designs. As seen with the MK3 Fiesta from 1989 and the MK5 Escort from the following year. It is noted, that Ford made boldly styled cars with Claude Lobo's New Edge designs in the late 1990s. The Ka, Focus, Puma and Cougar owes its existence to the Sierra.

Even though the Cosworths are the most sought after Sierras. The standard car itself should be appreciated. 30 years on, Ford haven't made a car like the Sierra that has created such an impact.

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