The Blue Pill or The Red Pill?

When I was about to buy my Cossie in 2003, I felt much like Neo from The Matrix.  I could hear Morpheus in my head:

This is your last chance.  After this there is no turning back.  You take the blue pill: the story ends.  You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Which pill did I take?

The red one, obviously.

At 21 I’d somehow borrowed some cash from the bank, and set off on my mission to fulfil my childhood dream:  I wanted a Cossie, and I’d wanted it since I was 6.

As an impressionable, and ‘different’ child, I could sometimes hear colours, and visualise sounds.  Synaesthesia they call it these days, and it’s not so much of a thing for me now.  Also, I had a bit of an issue reading people as a child, but I could read cars – they had faces I could ‘read’.  Their engines were their voices.  I knew whether they were happy, suspicious, angry, sad, or scared.

To me the Sierra had a happy face.  Just happy to be.  For some reason I decided quite early on that I wanted a ‘GL’.  A red one.  One has to be goal oriented, right?

At some point, as children do, I mentioned my aspiration to a grown up.  Time has passed so I’m not entirely sure which grown up I told, but I do remember them saying “Well if you want a Sierra, you need a Cosworth!”

Those words stuck.  And spent the rest of my misspent youth on the lookout for one.   Just one.

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I saw everything but.  I saw Sierra GLs, Ls, LXs, Ghias, XR4is, XR4x4s, Lasers, GLXs, GLSs, largely EVERYTHING BUT a Cosworth.  I began to think they were a fable, the Sierra Holy Grail.

Then one day, that moment came… A real one.  Being old and feeble now, all I remember was that it was black, and that it looked awesome.  Its purposeful face meant ‘business’, the enormous whale tail looked like it had some higher purpose – little did I realise that it was functional as well as decorative.  I needed this thing in my life.

I carried on my search in earnst.  I didn’t see another for years.  When one finally did turn up, it was another black one – this time it was on a car dealer’s forecourt.  All i could do was gaze in wonderment at it.

Fast forward many years, and things were a bit different.  The advent of the internet meant photos of my Holy Grail were but a mouse click away.  My girlfriend at the time had got bored of my talking about it, and encouraged me to just get on with it – so I did.  At this point, it’s October 2003 and there’s money burning a hole in my pocket, and the Auto Trader website under my right finger.  The gauntlet was down.

The choice!  Oh how could I choose?!?  This was a period of great joy for the casual Cosworth purchaser – there were loads for sale.  I didn’t really know what I wanted so it was all the more difficult to actually find one I liked.

I knew i wanted a Sapphire.  I’d loved the shape since I first saw one, and i thought I wanted a black one.  Once I’d discovered these rare beasts commanded a certain rarity premium I retreated to the metaphorical drawing board and set myself some goals: rear wheel drive, leather seats, and largely standard and unfettled.

There were plenty of white ones, plenty of magenta ones, plenty of 4×4 ones.  And oddly, plenty of Crystal Blue ones.

Now, for some reason, I thought Crystal Blue ones were fake.  Oh how wrong and foolish I was.  They weren’t fake.  In fact they were one of the rarer colours the Sapphire Cosworth was ever available in – one of the original three: Diamond White, Mercury Grey, and Crystal Blue.

I scrolled  through Auto Trader for several days without success.  For a brief time, I almost went to the Dark Side – I nearly succumbed to the allure of an Impreza.  Luckily though, I found salvation.  Then there it was – down in Kent, a Crystal Blue, rear wheel drive Sapphire Cosworth, mostly standard, an unmeddled standard engine, black raven leather, a partial history, 87k on the clock, and all for the princely sum of £3650.  Better still, unbelievably, I could insure it too.

I rang ‘Steve’ to arrange a viewing.  At the time, I lived in Norfolk.  Steve was in Sittingbourne in Kent.  A bit of a trip, but, lets face it, a worthwhile one.  The trip down there was an adventure worthy of the Famous Five.  I didn’t know what to expect really.  At all.

After crossing the QE2 bridge and sailing excitably along the A2, we came to Sittingbourne, and amongst the twists and turns of the modern housing estate where Steve lived, there it was.  Glistening in the early afternoon sunshine: a Sapphire that looked  like an actual sapphire, it was well deserving of its title.  It was beatiful.

My one regret is that I never took enough photos – I should’ve taken some at the time, but I’ll never forget how it looked – like an actual sapphire, but with tyres.  Amazing.

Steve greeted us and gave me the obligatory tour and of course, the obligatory ‘test drive’.  I kept telling myself “Don’t say yes, be casual.  Don’t say yes.  Be cool.”  The moment it came on boost I nearly wet my pants.  The acceleration was geometric; it went like shit off a stick.  It changed direction like a fly.  It stopped like gravity was pulling it backward.  It was as addictive as the finest crack money can buy.  I needed another fix.  Now.

The test drive came to an end and we went back to Steve’s house, I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.  “Play it nice and cool” I thought.  I still don’t have a great poker face.

It had some faults – the rear wheel arch covers were in the boot, the passenger door trim was slightly ripped, the carpet and dash were grey but the seats were black, the radio didn’t work, the driver’s outer seat bolster was worn, there were obvious bodges to the interior fixtures from a previous owner, the paperwork had been peed on recently by Steve’s cat, but I didn’t care.  At all.  I was completely smitten and after doing some basic identity checks on it, handed over £100 as a deposit and arranged to collect it the following Friday after work.  The deed was done.

The following Friday, I was the very proud owner of a Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth.  I couldn’t have been happier.  And then, I found out how deep the rabbit hole goes…




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