Clouds rising behind a Cosworth’s exhaust aren’t exactly a welcome sight during a trip to Santa Pod; blue smoke billowing around the car at idle and engulfing the rear-view mirror confirm there’s something going wrong under the bonnet. With a litre of oil gone AWOL – presumably in the pub with a bar of boost that suddenly dropped off the gauge – I suspected my Sierra’s T34 turbo was also about to leave me in the lurch. It was time I commenced research.

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Now, colleagues’ recommendations can’t really be beaten when choosing reputable specialists, so I took their advice and selected a turbo engineering firm with considerable respect and credentials of reliability. And that’s when the trouble began…

The company received my turbo in mid-August, and got around to checking it over a week-or-so later. Eventually, after a few nudges, the boss called me to say he’d inspected the turbo and found a few issues: scoring on the compressor housing and a slightly bent actuator rod. He reckoned it was worth repairing, and we agreed a price of £400 including a billet compressor wheel. Okay, I’d rather put that cash towards a Borg-Warner, but – because I’d already missed Ford Fair – the car needed to be back in one piece before Ford Fest.

You can understand, then, why it became tiresome to keep chasing the company, requesting updates and receiving no response.

By September, I’d waited long enough. The boss had disappeared on holiday, and I was transferred to a different chap. By which point, my T34 had developed a crack in the compressor housing, which was conveniently replaced; the bill now would be closer to £600…No thanks. As I’d already confirmed, there’s no point spending half the cost of a new turbo on technology that disappeared with the dinosaurs.

But that wasn’t the end of it. A couple of days later, the firm decided to charge me £408 for the turbo rebuild, which was duly paid in anticipation of a completely refreshed T34.

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Except it wasn’t. Despite sending the company a turbo with as-new actuator, it was returned to me with substantial damage, roughly filled and repainted. “It won’t be visible to the naked eye,” I was told. And that’s true – up to the point at which you lift the car’s bonnet, when the dent is immediately obvious.

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But what of the internals? Is the Cosworth back to its previous performance? Sadly not. Peak boost is a poxy 14psi, and the exhaust is still billowing out blue smoke at idle – as the cars queuing behind me on the hour-long crawl to Ford Fest will attest.

 

Looks like it’s time for a complete rebuild, after all…