Ford Granada Cosworth. The last Ford Cosworth you can afford might not wear an enormous spoiler but this Endangered Species has enough star quality to be worth saving. Ford's big saloon now near-extinct. Grab a granny: the rare Ford Scorpio Cosworth deserves to be saved. Misunderstood when new, the Granada Scorpio 24v is the Cosworth Ford you can afford, but is it any good? Words Sam Dawson. Photography Adam Shorrock.
Cossie for peanuts ONLY 81 LEFT / ENDANGERED SPECIES GRANADA COSWORTH
By the end of 1990 it seemed Cosworth could do no wrong. Rob Gravett had won the British Touring Car Championship in a Sierra RS500.
Cosworth HB and DFA V8s powered half the F1 grid, and Benetton-Fords vied for championship honours, and in rallying, the Sierra XR4x4’s drivetrain had finally been combined with the potent YB engine. The Northants- based tuner had lifted the everyman blue oval to BMW-rivalling status.
Stories had been circulating about a Cosworth-engineered twin-turbo super-Granada since 1988. Artists’ impressions emerged of a bewinged, bonnet-scooped monster targeting Germany’s best. But when the BOA-engined Granada 24v finally emerged in December 1990, the press was underwhelmed. It initially had just 193bhp– 27bhp fewer than Turbo Technics’ conversion for its 12-valve stablemate. Between its enormous DFS-style armchairs was the T-handle of an automatic gearbox. You wouldn’t feel like Gravett or Piquet helming it.
But consider this. Nowadays a decent Granada Scorpio is £3k. You’ll pay three times that for a scabby Sapphire Cosworth, the car from which the MkIII Granada is derived. With this in mind, it’s worth re-evaluating.
Don’t blame Ford for the 24v’s shortcomings, blame Britain in 1990. The brief economic boom of the 1980s had been followed by bust. Rampant unemployment fed an explosion of vehicle crime, and the Cosworth Fords’ mix of cop-baiting race engineering and rudimentary parts-bin security made them as thief-prone as a newsagent opposite a secondary school.
Without fleet-based volume sales, the super-Granada wouldn’t have made financial sense, and attaching the Cosworth name would have made it uninsurable. That's why the badges only appear on the engine cover. A host of warranty claims wouldn’t have helped the car’s case either, so the detuned quad-cam Cosworth BOA V6 – derived from the FBA prototype Ford Cologne V6-based engine the firm acquired when it bought Brian Hart Ltd – only came with an A4LDE automatic gearbox. On test at Cosworth, 400bhp-plus BOAs wrecked many Ford Type 9 manual shifters.
Still, the 1993 example we're hustling across the Derbyshire Dales hardly feels slow, unresponsive or cheaply engineered. The solid, high-quality interior with wraparound instrument binnacle looks and feels remarkably similar to that of an E34 BMW 5-Series. Induction and exhaust noise levels are low at idle, with just a distant, deep throb hinting at the potential.
Glossy wood-veneer inlays aren’t very Cosworth, but in period they were in everything from Rover 200s to TVRs.
Regardless of intent, early 1990s buyers expected ‘cow and tree’ if they were spending nearly £30k, and Ford couldn’t ignore the fact that, race-bred powerplant or not, most 24v customers would be middle-aged management types.
At low speeds, the variable-rate power steering promises a level of feedback on a par with a Sapphire Cosworth, but beyond 20mph it becomes fingertip-light. That makes the first few high-speed bends a bit disconcerting. The car’s nose is hard to place, but it doesn’t take long to realise how incredibly well composed the suspension is on this 1.4-ton monster. Turn in hard and there’s no sudden lateral lurch or nose- bounce into wheel-flailing understeer. It remains impressively neutral, faithful to its line, and so level you’d think it must have some kind of active suspension system. It doesn't. It has conventional McPherson struts up front and transverse arms at the rear, kept in check with anti- roll bars, but Cosworth was thorough in setting up the spring and damper rates.
You do hear some trim shudder over potholes, but there's real luxury here. The MkIII Granada was always praised for its space and solidity. The vast electric front seats provide support without pinching, comfort without sag, like a Citroën CX.
The Citroën connection extends to the XM-like mid-corner stability, wind-noise suppression, commitment to comfort and smooth-nosed fastback form. The way this Scorpio sounds and performs isn’t Citroën- like, though. Accelerate hard and it emits a steely howl that's slightly muted in the cabin, but impressive from the outside.
That translates into thumping performance too. It’s hard to believe that this quad-cam 2.9-litre V6 is related to the coarse and gutless 2.8-litre pushrod ‘Cologne’ engine. Rather than the torque thumping in immediately under load like a big V8, it surges smoothly to the rear wheels, each long-legged auto-shift accompanied by a satisfying lunge for the horizon. The four-speed self-shifter is blessedly old-fashioned, holding onto its deep-welled ratios rather than constantly rummaging for the next gear. You can bury your right foot exiting corners with no fear about what the gearbox might do.
It’s not exactly supercar oomph – this midlife facelifted model musters 220bhp and 218lb-ft – but it’s enough to more than sustain a consistent, high-speed, county- chomping cruise. Settle into this grand touring mindset, relax, and after a few deserted miles – and bends – the Granada’s ‘Cosworthiness’ sneaks up on you.
If you wrestle a Sierra or Escort Cosworth on a B-road, it’ll reward you by making you feel like a rally driver. In the
Granada, the insulating luxury, light steering and well-sorted chassis let you concentrate on the road. Due to the engine’s low-down torque, the automatic gearbox doesn’t feel like the lazy, slurring slusher I was expecting. When you click it down to hold third it reacts instantly, allowing full use of the engine's torque, shrugging off inclines with ease.
This Cossie isn't lacking motorsport glamour either. The BOA engine was a Brian Hart competition lump taken on by Cosworth. It never fulfilled Hart's racing plans, but Cosworth did develop it as the FBE, and it became the heart of the Lee Noble-designed ProSport LM3000.
Even though the Granada Scorpio 24v couldn’t share the glory of the Sierra and Escort, it's still a competition-bred Cosworth. With its auto gearbox and detuned engine, it’s not quite the car it could’ve been. Imagine the twin test with the Lotus Carlton if it had had a 400bhp FVE and manual gearbox.
However, there’s very little wrong with the way the 24v drives – and if you really want to unlock its potential and make it the Lotus Carlton-botherer it should have been, this car's owner will be able to help...