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1987 Ford Sierra Sapphire 1.8L - Number plates - massive FAIL - see page 33

Peter C

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  • Peter C changed the title to 1987 Ford Sierra Sapphire 1.8L - Good from far, far from good

Chin up, nothing to worry about. Could have been worse, @cort16 could have been driving down south in his C6 by now.

A good wash and polish will help, I will touch up the numerous areas where the paint is fucked, I will sort out the blowing exhaust, replace the cam belt and leaking cam cover gasket….. blah blah blah.

I wasn’t looking for a long term project but I’ve got one now. Lucky me.

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5 minutes ago, Peter C said:

Chin up, nothing to worry about. Could have been worse, @cort16 could have been driving down south in his C6 by now.

A good wash and polish will help, I will touch up the numerous areas where the paint is fucked, I will sort out the blowing exhaust, replace the cam belt and leaking cam cover gasket….. blah blah blah.

I wasn’t looking for a long term project but I’ve got one now. Lucky me.

Well it looks great in the photos.  If really it just needs a touch up, slight exhaust blow, cambelt and a small oil leak, I reckon you've done really well.

Really hope this works out for you!  I might have a cam cover gasket - I will have a look and let you know. 

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Surely it's a project by definition of being 35 years old and not sold as 'fully restored'? 

I can't think of a car that you'd buy of that age that isn't a project. Unless it's advertised as 'complete rebuild' and costs five figures. 

I mean think about @4wheeledstool's Mk2 Cavalier. Total nut and bolt rebuild, welded, sprayed, fettled - the works. That's now a bona-fide turn-key classic where (I guess) there's no work to do except routine servicing, just drive and enjoy it.

Everything else of this age is, well, showing its age. There's always something to fix. It can feel overwhelming to begin with but you need to categorise the jobs:

- Jobs I can do quickly. You could polish the paint, change the oil, hoover the interior. 

- Jobs I can do slowly. Maybe these need more time and research, some part hunting or workshop manual info. Eg suspension bushes, replacement diff, fix an electrical issue. 

- Jobs I need to farm out. Like me, I expect you don't have access to a spray booth. If there's welding, filling and spraying that needs doing, you might want to start finding local specialists who can repair for £££. Plan to get this done in the winter months when you're likely to be not using the car. 

All of the above depends on the time and money you have available for the project.

In the case of my Maestro, I bought it around 18 months ago. It's usable and driveable now but I've still got various jobs planned to stave off long-term decline, like removing rear beam and front subframe for de-rusting and paint.

Those jobs aren't urgent so I can enjoy it, but they'll take some planning. And with the purchase price of the car plus bodywork and parts spend I'm probably £5-6k poorer. 

Tl;dr: Hang in there. Do some planning, it's fun and a useful way of filling dark, cold evenings until better weather arrives. 

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Bear in mind these were usually rotten at 7-8 years old, so long as the basics are ok and it’s not terminally fucked then it should be fine, I would expect if I’m honest a degree of corrosion on the ends of the sills and underneath the doors on a vehicle of this age. It’s coming through to spring summer before you know it so you’ve plenty of opportunity to get it how you want it. 

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Hopefully there's a good car under there. Not many vehicles look at their very best after three days' travelling along filthy January roads, so I can appreciate your disappointment when it rocked up looking like an old nail - but hopefully the jobs needed can be done pretty quickly, and you can be enjoying it before too long.

Best of luck!

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1 hour ago, Peter C said:

Chin up, nothing to worry about. Could have been worse, @cort16 could have been driving down south in his C6 by now.

A good wash and polish will help, I will touch up the numerous areas where the paint is fucked, I will sort out the blowing exhaust, replace the cam belt and leaking cam cover gasket….. blah blah blah.

I wasn’t looking for a long term project but I’ve got one now. Lucky me.

As long as it's solid in the right places that's all really counts the rest is something I would expect (other than the exhaust) from a nearly 40 year old Ford. The pinto isn't interference if thebelt snaps plus it's got to be the easiest cambelt job on the planet. 

Unless you bought it from one of these white room places for twice the money any car of this is age is going to need some tinkering.

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This is, half the battle with a car like this is undoing all the bodges. Quite a common one you used to see was on the rear quarter of the bumper they used to sag when the clip fell out and you’d see a woodscrew hidden under the red trim. 

You are half a step ahead with this in that it looks not to have been fucked about with, daft things like those trims and seats that look in decent nick are nigh on impossible to get hold of. I’d take a bit of welding or a door bottom needing replacement over having loads of bits missing any day. 

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Harrowing thought.

This car is now older than the bASe was when I picked it up. Funny how the brain plays horrible tricks, but that’s a fact. My old heap was four years younger when it first came to stay. 


You’ve definitely bought a better one. By a million miles. 

There’s always a crash of emotions after a purchase, but it’s definitely got the right owner (more than the base can say) and will be splendid in no time. Hope to see it. 



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Right, I've calmed down a bit now.

Let's get one thing straight, I was not expecting a minter. I saw the off colour front nearside door in the photos and the seller advised that the paint is not perfect. He wasn't lying. 

This is the situation:

I reckon that the car has been standing for a long time, badly protected by a tarp or cover. Consequently, paint has worn through to bare metal in all four corners and along the roof edges.






I also reckon that at some point in the not too distant past, the car had a cheap blow over. There is overspray on various plastics.




Then there's rust, which affects just about every panel, apart from the roof.








No doubt the blow over is concealing lashings of wob. 

The underside looks ok but I haven't had the car up in the air yet.

The rear bumper is fucked - scratched, badly painted, with a lovely peeling patina.




The front bumper is better but far from perfect.


I removed the shitty stickers and faded AA badge. For a car with such low mileage (more on that later), it's been all over the British Isles and had stickers to prove it.





Under the bonnet, things are looking a bit better. The inner wings and turrets look solid. Engine bay is filthy.


The 1.8 Pinto starts and runs ok. It's silent, no cam issues. Engine oil is clean. No idea when the cam belt was last replaced, so that's on the list. Piss easy job.


Cam cover oil leak will be easy to fix.


Bad blow in the manifold to downpipe needs fixing asap. The centre and back exhaust boxes look silver and shiny but something is blowing, badly. I'm so looking forward to lying under the Sierra and fixing a leaking exhaust. 


The boot is clean, no sign of any rust.



The interior is in good condition, however there are a few issues. The front window winders were broken, so I swapped them for the rear ones. One of the rear door ashtrays is missing. The plastic handbrake lever surround has a small chunk missing. The dash has no cracks, which is nice.  The headlining is mint. The original ICE works and sounds pretty good.






I gave the Sierra a wash. There was some localised water beading but all the paint needs a good cut and polish.


It looks better after a wash but nothing as good as it did in the seller's photos.





I gave the interior plastics a wipe over and hoovered the seats and carpets. I love the interior. So 1980s Ford. The driver's door cannot be locked / unlocked, either from the inside or by key. I suspect a seized mechanism. Car is currently parked behind tall gates, out of sight and I live in a quiet cul-de-sac, so the Sierra is safe for now. 


The car was supposed to come with enough history to back up the low mileage of 33k. The odometer is showing 31k - hmm. There was nothing in the car on delivery, I called the seller, he apologised, the documents pack is still on his side table. He will post the docs tomorrow, including the green slip, which I need to tax the car. Actually, I won't bother for now, I will SORN it until I sort out the exhaust blows and replace the cam belt. 

Is the mileage genuine? The interior is mint and the engine is silent, so maybe yes. 1980s Fords rust, so the condition of the bodywork and paint should not be a factor. Let's see what the documents reveal, although I am not holding my breath.

I paid £4k for the Sierra, which includes transport costs from Northern Ireland to my house. Not a fortune, I know. I also know that Sierra prices have gone up and this example is not a complete shed. Let's say it has potential. Would I have paid £4k for it if I had seen it in the flesh before shaking hands with the seller? No.

The plan is to get the mechanicals into decent shape, tidy up the bits that need cleaning, like the engine bay, polish the paintwork, treat the corrosion and paint over with colour matched Hammerite type paint. I am not paying £10k for a weldathon and bare metal respray. Considering how poor the paint is, I am now less concerned about keeping the Sierra outside. It won't fit in the third garage and I am not kicking out my mint W123 or E46 to make space for the Sierra, at least not a permanent basis.

More soon.


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