We realise we’re treading well covered ground here, but it’s worth taking time to remember just how big a set of loafers the Ford Sierra had to fill when it was launched in 1982. The Cortina was more than a car as far as the Great British public were concerned, it was a veritable institution; the very symbol of suburban normality, as comforting and dependable as a cup of tea and a slice of toast on a frosty winter morning. With that in mind it’s easier to understand the public’s hesitance to embrace the Sierra, a car that looked as radical as the Cortina was conventional, despite the fact that both cars shared a considerable amount of DNA under the skin. Part of what made the Cortina such a roaring success was the size of the range, and Ford could sell you one in any number of bodystyles and trims, though the most specialised of all was undoubtedly the P100. Essentially a regular car with a flat bed grafted to the rear to create a light pickup, the P100 was a great success, so of course Ford sought to continue that with the Sierra variant.
The Sierra P100 was a steady seller for Ford throughout the ’80s, though we very much doubt anyone in the company ever envisioned their no frills truck would end up looking anything like Matt Cochrane’s example. It’s a vehicle that he’s owned for over a decade, having handed over just £50 for it in 2004. Of course back then it was a million miles from its current condition, having spent the majority of its life hauling gravel in a local quarry.
“The guy I bought it off had only recently got it from the quarry, though local kids had already given it a proper kicking and smashed most of the glass,” recalls Matt. “There was still a good two inches of quarry mud stuck along the sills, so I was prepared to have to do a lot of bodywork from the very start.”
The forlorn looking truck was soon back home, and Matt and his brother James set about pulling it apart to assess what they’d bought. Under all that caked-on mud the metal seemed to have lasted surprisingly well, and the pair only had to patch a few minor rot-spots before pressing the P100 back into active service.
“It was a 1.8 turbo diesel back then and I used it as my daily driver for a good few years. That engine was just awful though – loads of lag, a tiny hit of power, then nothing. It had to go, and I ended up swapping it for a Pinto a few years ago,” Matt explains.
Some of you will no doubt have already worked out that this is roughly the point when Matt stopped viewing the P100 as a mere workhorse, and started started seeing it as a viable long term project instead. It also didn’t take long for the limitations inherent in that particular Pinto, one that’d been built by James for autocrossing, to become apparent; it had an ultra aggressive cam so didn’t idle especially well, developed peak power at very high revs, and gave simply shocking fuel economy.
“I started looking into ways of tuning it to make it more suitable for road use, but everything just costs so much nowadays. That’s when I decided I may as well step up to Cosworth power,” recalls Matt with a chuckle.
Matt even went so far as to kid himself that a mere 200bhp or so would be plenty in a truck like this, but predictably that’s proved not to be the case, and the YB up front is now good for approximately 400bhp! Getting to that stage has taken a lot of work though, and the motor originally came into Matt’s hands in kit form – literally, it was a box full of Cosworth bits in various states of disrepair when he first set eyes on it! Not that he was put off in the slightest, Matt simply taking the opportunity to dovetail the engine swap with a full-on restoration, making good the issues and niggles that’d begun to appear during its spell as a daily driver.
“My brother builds custom autocross cars, so I knew I was in safe hands. We wheeled it into his workshop last spring and set to work sorting the body, sourcing panels and building up the YB.”
Now any notion of ‘just’ 200bhp being enough quickly faded away, and Matt readily admits that he got slightly carried away buying choice Cossie bits, including the crank from Ronnie Amis’s Time Attack three-door. Not everything went to plan though, and Matt was greeted by the sickening sight of oily smoke emerging from his freshly built engine the first time he fired it up – the head was badly cracked and was fit only for the scrapyard. To say Matt was gutted would be a gross understatement, but it did present another opportunity to source even more high end parts for the rebuild, with large Siemens 55lb/hr injectors eventually ordered from Scandinavia, plus a T34 turbo and a pair of fast road cams.
“I didn’t mean for it to get so out of hand, I just started buying a few aftermarket parts, but that meant putting extra stress on anything that was left factory, hence why pretty much everything on the motor has been uprated to some extent,” explains Matt.
That engine was originally intended to power the rear axle only, but a slightly unnerving experience in James’s Sapphire caused something of a rethink (“I felt the back end lose grip at 120mph or so in the wet, so not exactly the kind of thing that inspires confidence”)! Fortunately the pair had bought and broken a tired Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 some months previously, and as luck would have it the transmission and differentials were still gathering dust in the workshop – not transplanting it into the truck would’ve been akin to looking a gift horse in the mouth!
“I had to get a custom propshaft made up as the P100 is a bit longer than the regular Sapphire, plus we carried out a lot of chassis bracing and strengthening to ensure that the truck could actually deal with the power without ripping itself to bits!”
The whole setup now consists of a YB and MT75 ‘box, uprated front driveshafts, a plated front diff, that custom prop, and the rear axle and differential from the 4×4 Sapphire, though the latter has been custom mounted and treated to a host of strengthening modifications to ensure it stays where it’s supposed to.
This is all impressive stuff of course, but all the engineering nous in the world couldn’t compete against the sheer visual impact this truck has, thanks to that seriously ‘in your face’ paintjob! Of course P100’s led tough lives, something reflected in the battered and flat paint worn by the majority of examples (we seem to remember light blue being the most common shade). That’s certainly not the case with this one, Matt having drawn inspiration from his brother’s custom stock car and come up with a metal-flaked black hue that wouldn’t look out of place at an early ’90s warehouse rave!
“It was going to be gloss black, my favourite colour, but I was parked in Tescos and realised it just wouldn’t stand out against the lines of dark Audis and BMWs, hence the decision to throw subtlety out the window and paint it like this,” Matt chuckles.
There’s really not much middle ground with a hue like this; you’ll either love it or detest it, and we’re willing to bet a few of you let out a mild grumble to yourselves when you first clocked it. That’s not really the point though, as not only does Matt love the colour, it’s also more than helped him meet his aim – there’s no way a truck like this isn’t going to stand out like a sore thumb, and even if you parked it in a lineup of supercars the chances are it’d be the old pickup truck that drew the most glances.
We can’t stress how recently completed this truck is – Matt and James really were working flat out in an effort to get the P100 up and running in time for this very photoshoot. As such it’s still something of an unknown quantity; OK so it’s probably safe to say it’ll be ludicrously quick and be about as subtle as a brick thrown through a window, but how will it actually handle?
“I’ve driven it a little bit, though obviously not too hard as the engine still needs running in, and it really does feel really good, not like a truck in the slightest. Going from that peaky, ‘cammy’ Pinto to the YB has been a revelation, though it’s still really light over the rear end and will happily spin all four wheels!”
You might not love the paintwork, but you should probably appreciate just how bonkers this thing really is – a rip snorting hooligan that’s just begging to be driven hard, fast and, ideally, sideways! If that doesn’t neatly sum up what Cosworth-powered Fords are all about in one sentence, then we don’t know what does!
Fully rebuilt YB Cosworth with Wiseco pistons with valve cut-outs, H-section rods, ACL bearings, high pressure oil pump, BD14 inlet and BD8 exhaust cams, Ferrea valves, double valve springs, CDF Racing pulleys, 3.5Bar fuel pressure regulator, Siemens 55lb/hr injectors, Bosch 044 fuel pump, Facet red top lift pump, 50-litre alloy fuel cell, 2.5-litre swirl pot, Aeroquip fittings, alloy fuel hose seperators, Autospecialists inlet manifold, Group A breather and induction setup, T34 turbo with 0.63 exhaust housing, -31 alloy actuator, MSD dump valve, 100mm intercooler, turbo blanket, 4×4 heat-wrapped exhaust manifold, 3-inch custom exhaust system with bypass valve and Focus ST silencer, alloy radiator, slimline fans, Mocal oil cooler, remote oil filter, Stage 3 Level 8 ECU, single air injector, billet alloy alternator drop bracket, various stainless tanks and fittings
400bhp (owner’s estimate)
MT75 five-speed with B&M quickshift, plated front differential, uprated front driveshafts, custom propshaft, Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 rear axle and differential, strengthening brackets, enlarged transmission tunnel
Front: 330mm AP Racing discs with four-pot calipers, aftermarket pads, braided lines
Rear: 300mm Reyland discs, 4×4 Cosworth calipers, aftermarket pads, braided lines
Gaz coilovers all round, compression struts, polybushes all round, Rose-jointed rear coilovers, front strut-brace, strengthened rear wishbones, ‘half moon’ cut-outs in front chassis legs
Wheels and tyres
7x17in Compomotive MO6 alloys, Dunlop 9000 215/40×17 tyres
Full 4×4 Cosworth interior including seats, dash, door cards and carpet, white Lockwood dials, Nomad boost gauge mounted on pillar, Ford Racing oil pressure gauge, AEM wideband AFR gauge, uprated door speakers, 6x9s in rear pillars, amp mounted behind passenger seat
Sierra P100 pickup in jet black with silver holographic flake, Cosworth mirrors, vented bonnet, bumper and custom side skirts, Morrette head lights, ‘fly eye’ indicators, LED side repeaters, tinted windows, fuel cell mounted in flatbed, braced, strengthened and tubbed rear with custom stainless steel infills, Cosworth front bumper with intercooler cutout, RS500 style splitter
My brother James for all his work, help and expertise, my girlfriend for putting up with the build for so long, and Pro Mechanical Services
This feature first appeared in the May 2015 issue.
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