Here in Australia it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking the only mass-produced four-cylinder turbo fliers wear a badge from Japan. Sure, there are a couple of expensive Audis, Saabs and Volvos in the mix but, really, the Japanese built machines are the dominant force. So when Steve Flint’s ’88 Ford Sapphire Cosworth bags ‘em up off the line it’s a refreshing sight – just the thing to challenge our grasp of normality.
Steve has recently moved to Australia from the UK and, while there were plenty of possessions and memories left behind, his modified Sapphire most definitely was not. Steve’s Sapphire has been comprehensively modified by UK based Ford tuning gurus, Brodie Brittain Racing. Steve picked the car up pretty much as you see it – the only change since immigrating to Australia is a re-map to suit local fuel.
So what’s she got under the bonnet?
Well, you’re looking at the Ford 2-litre in-line four with a DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder head and a turbocharger. It’s the same type of engine that powered Sierra Cosworths to victory in the Australian Group A Touring Car Championship – that is, before the arrival of the Skyline GT-R...
The Ford 2-litre turbo has received plenty of aftermarket development in the UK and there is obviously no problem extracting big power without compromising reliability. Built by Brodie Brittain Racing, the Sapphire’s engine boasts a Motorsport 200 block which is designed for Group A racing. Custom forged pistons achieve an 8.5:1 static compression ratio and the stock rods and cranks are strong enough for all but the most extreme power-up. On top of this bulletproof bottom-end is a RS500 head equipped with a pair of BD16 camshafts giving relatively aggressive valve lift and duration. Upgrade valve springs prevent high rpm valve bounce.
A lot of extra power comes from the use of a hybrid T3 Garrett turbocharger which bolts onto the factory exhaust manifold. No external wastegate is required. Charge air is cooled by a RS500 front-mount intercooler and you’ll find an atmo venting blow-off valve incorporated in the plumbing. The intake to the turbo comprises a large conical filter while exhaust gasses are funneled through a 3 inch mandrel bent exhaust.
The 1988 engine management system was hauled out while in the UK and was replaced by an Autronic programmable set-up. The Autronic computer controls a set of Bosch 650cc injectors and extra fuel flow comes from an additional Bosch 044 pump. The direct-fire ignition system is also controlled by the Autronic programmable ECU.
Interestingly, Ford released the Sapphire Cosworth in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive guise. Steve went for the rear-drive model for some extra driving amusement. Not only does the RWD model give some more driving action, it is much easier to upgrade the driveline – Steve’s example runs the standard T5 gearbox housing containing an aftermarket straight cut gearset. The gearbox and diff are virtually unbreakable even when pushed around by a no-slip heavy-duty clutch.
Okay, so that’s the engine and driveline rundown – what numbers is this Euro turbo machine capable of?
Well, more than enough to make Rex drivers take note. With boost pressure set to 30 psi, the 2-litre Ford turbo motor can put out around 400hp (298kW) at the wheels on a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. More power would be a certainty if Steve stepped up to a bigger turbocharger that sacrifices some of the existing bottom-end performance. A big turbo is on the cards and Steve reckons another 100hp (75kW) would be nice...
But this isn’t Steve’s main automotive project. Take a look in his garage and you’ll find a Mark II Escort that is being fully rebuilt to accept the mechanicals from yet another Ford Sapphire Cosworth. The car you see here is merely Steve’s run-around machine... Its plush Recaro equipped is the perfect, comfortable environment for taking care of Monday to Friday business.
Of course, being such a rare sight in Australia, the Sapphire sedan doesn’t need a crate-load of fiberglass add-ons to attract attention. The body remains standard aside from the fitment of a warrior front bumper and 17 inch TSW Venoms wearing 235mm rubbers. The ride height has also been brought down about an inch thanks to a UK-fitted Koni damper/lowered spring combo. Brakes are standard Ford with the benefit of carbon metallic pads.
At this point, Steve hasn’t run the car down the quarter mile because his real interest lies in circuit racing. And it’s more than just an interest – Steve has engineering and development experience within Formula One and Indy so it’s fair to say he’s pretty knowledgeable and confident with a spanner... So believe us when we tell you his in-the-build Escort will be something to behold – if you reckon a 400hp ATW Sapphire is impressive, you just wait!