October 6, 2022

This tuned Sierra Property could have began life as a leisurely diesel — and it nonetheless has the badges to show it — however because of Tom Jackson’s wily methods, it’s hiding some high-octane surprises…

Characteristic from Quick Ford journal. Pictures: Adrian Brannan.

If there’s one lesson that life teaches us time and time once more, it’s that enjoying the lengthy sport is the path to success. Go into one thing half-cocked and issues can blow up in your face, however taking your time will at all times pay dividends.

This unhurried strategy is woven via the essence of the tuned Sierra property you see right here; its very beginnings had been an train in informal meandering, being in-built 1984 however not road-registered till December 1985. And since we’re speaking unhurried, that first proprietor would have suffered a glacial 0-to-60 mph stroll of 19 seconds, because of the naturally-aspirated 2.3 derv’s relaxed 67bhp.

It’s packing fairly much more urgency now, although. With a number of decades-or-so passing by, the Sierra has discovered a option to fulfil its future in fashion because of its present proprietor, Tom Jackson. Tom’s a person who is aware of his stuff on the subject of surprising engine swaps and the overall slaying of tyres.

The inventory diesel lump was thrown unceremoniously within the bin by Tom, because the Sierra’s wheezy 2.3 oil-burner simply wasn’t going to flick his swap. So, he launched into a mission of enhancing and perfecting, in an effort to flip this automotive into what it actually deserved to be. All of this has been knowledgeable by a lifetime of scientific and mechanical tinkering, as a result of Tom isn’t one to let issues go.

He says, “I’ve been into vehicles since I used to be a child. I’ve at all times needed to work with them, and it began with the younger me shopping for lawnmowers and usually something with an engine from a neighborhood tip, tinkering with them and seeing how and what made them work.

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“Naturally it progressed from there to precise vehicles, with motorbikes in between; I’ve at all times purchased vehicles, modified them and offered them on, rapidly shifting on to the following concept I had in thoughts.”

So why a Sierra Property this time? Nicely, Tom fancied having a crack at one thing that was each sensible and basic.

Tuned Sierra Estate

“I additionally want the oddball vehicles and underdogs that no one actually modifies or offers time to,” he grins, and we’re completely on-board with that line of considering. Most Sierras that survive today are the sporting variants, both big-money RS Cosworths or the extra area of interest XR4s, however estates are seldom seen. Standard of their day, they had been utilitarian issues that evidently few folks thought of price saving as soon as they reached the top of their helpful lifespan. However fortunately a number of slipped via the cracks, and it was simply such a donor that Tom was capable of scoop up for his subsequent spherical of automotive mad science.

Tuned Sierra Estate

He explains, “I purchased the Sierra from a neighborhood pal, Jamie. I’d seen it round, however I didn’t purchase it because it was a good distance away. Then Jamie introduced it to his home after buying it and, now being native, I needed to go and look. And I immediately fell in love. It was in fully customary type, a 2.3D GL mannequin with 75,000 on the clock. The situation wasn’t too unhealthy total, nevertheless it wanted work – primarily welding and basic recommissioning.”

Getting the retro wagon again to his unit, Tom began having a great poke round to see what was what. In doing so he uncovered a good quantity of rust, however nothing too uncommon for a Eighties’ Ford.


A plan was rapidly formulated to weld up all of the holes and get it on the street, though the course of the mission rapidly modified as Tom came upon how laborious it was to supply bits for the two.3 diesel. Reluctant to spend giant quantities of money and time on an engine that wasn’t thrilling, he dropped in a 1.8TD with a number of home-brewed fabricated elements and an enormous turbo. And it’s at this level that we be taught simply how a lot Tom loves swapping engines.

“After the third or fourth 1.8, it turned apparent that these turbo-diesels had been no good,” he muses. “So at that time I fitted a 2.0-litre Zetec on R1 bike carbs, and that was a lot better. But it surely needed to be taken out once more owing to it having a nasty sump, and it’s at all times been my view that when you’re eradicating an engine, you would possibly as effectively substitute it with one thing that’s one higher.”

With this in thoughts, Tom set about becoming the Zetec’s trendier brother – an ST170 engine. On this guise it finds itself operating Jenvey throttle our bodies, an HPE manifold and bespoke administration, whereas all the mounts and pipework needed to be home-made, in addition to the sump and the breather setup.

Each job on the automotive has been carried out by Tom’s personal two fingers, with the odd additional hand from a mate or specialist waved in the proper path right here and there.

Tuned Sierra Estate

The chassis has been prepped for the additional energy by advantage of ST170 brakes up entrance and Gaz coilovers all spherical, the improved contact patch supplied by 195-section tyres wrapped round fats 9in banded steels. And the true genius of this construct is that each one the surprising firepower is wrapped up in comparatively stealthy type; positive, it’s squat and broad, however the authentic 2.3D badging, manufacturing facility pinstripes and tough arches inform a narrative of a load-lugger with a life well-lived.


Tom says, “There are some who could argue that I’ve ruined a basic, however I like stirring up the pot. I’m planning to get the rear geometry dialled in with an adjustable rear beam, an LSD, and presumably a turbo sooner or later.

“However who is aware of, it might find yourself engine-swapped – once more.”

We wouldn’t guess towards it. Tom’s not speeding into something, and this tuned Sierra Property is all in regards to the lengthy sport. Don’t be shocked to see an electrical or hydrogen-powered Sierra property someday later this century…

Tech Spec: Tuned Sierra Property


1988cc ST170 Zetec (badged as (Duratec ST), Jenvey particular person throttle our bodies, HPE exhaust manifold, home-made alloy sump, mounts, water pipes and breather setup, Canems ECU


Sierra Kind-9 five-speed handbook rear-wheel-drive gearbox


Entrance: Gaz Gold coilovers, Outlaw Motorsport -15 mm prime mount rubbers; rear: Gaz Gold coilovers, modified trailing arms


Entrance: Focus ST170 300mm discs and callipers; rear: customary Sierra 2.3D drums

Wheels & Tyres:

9x15in banded steels, 195/45R15 tyres


1984 2.3D GL property, authentic stripes and badging, flared arches, interval roof-rack, entrance spoiler, authentic Jade Inexperienced Metallic paint color


Customary GL-spec trim, OMP steering wheel, tartan headlining and pillars