Words: John Mayhead | Photography: Mathewsons
When it comes to record-breaking sales, we usually expect the big numbers to be returned by the major auction houses like RM Sotheby’s or Bonhams. But last week, a small family-run auctioneer in Pickering, North Yorkshire, sold a car for a total that was just a few hundred pounds shy of the model’s UK record.
The car sold was one that has become a firm UK enthusiast’s favourite in the last few years. It has everything Hagerty identifies as being important for collectors: made in limited numbers by a well-known manufacturer, with a strong motor sport pedigree and an instantly recognisable design. The car was a 1987 Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth, and Mathewsons sold it for £113,912 ($157,278).
Hagerty has seen all manner of modern classics rise in value in recent years and the RS500 has been no exception. The Hagerty Price Guide average value for the model has increased by 15% over the last 12 months to £73,475 and the car now has a top figure of £114,000. But the interesting thing about the RS500 is that it’s been collectable for much longer than most of its peers, and that’s surprising, given its early reputation.
Talk to any petrolhead who was around in the 1980s and they’ll tell you three things about the RS500 Cosworth: they were superb track machines, they were stolen – a lot – and they were a little bit (to use an expression from the day) lairy. So, to see the RS500 become a true blue-chip collectable classic has caught some people out.
But prices have been high for some time. Back in 2017, Silverstone Auctions sold a very low-mileage example for £114,750. The Mathewsons car had more miles on the clock – although still a frugal 19,600 – but made up for it in other areas with only three owners from new and some great period extras including original rubber mats and light grilles, still in their boxes. It also looked to be in fantastic condition, the auctioneer only able to spot a slight discolouration on the dashboard where the obligatory aftermarket alarm had been mounted.
So, will values of the RS500 continue to climb? The model is an odd one, as it has an almost exclusively British collector base that will probably limit its top-end growth potential. That said, it’s not unthinkable that a pristine, low-mileage model with superb history might sell for £130,000 in the near future. More importantly, I believe that whatever the condition, values of all RS500 examples are safe; the shabby ones will be restored, the lowest condition Hagerty Price Guide values will rise, and the average will continue to increase.
You can view the Hagerty Price Guide figures for the RS500 here.
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