Packed full of pi­o­neer­ing tech and a then-un­heard-of mam­moth 640bhp, this 90s icon has now burst back onto the scene!

Fast Ford - - Contents - Words JAMIE / Pho­tos MATT WOODS

Leg­endary '90s Sap­phire Cos­worth is back on the scene!

What was it that got you hooked on fast Fords? For many, it’s that their mates, their big brother, or maybe their dad that had a pas­sion for all things Blue Oval, and that en­thu­si­asm was un­avoid­ably in­her­ited. For me, it was one of my dad’s mates, who had an awe­some col­lec­tion of Cos­worth Fords in­clud­ing a Sap­phire, Es­cort, and holy grail Sierra RS500. All in Di­a­mond White. All mod­i­fied and tuned to pro­duce over 400bhp (which, in those days, was a lot!). I re­mem­ber, as a young teenage lad, sit­ting in the RS500 and promis­ing my­self that one day I would own a Cossie! That was kind a of turn­ing point in my life, it sparked my in­ter­est and en­thu­si­asm for the mighty Blue Oval (and Cossies in par­tic­u­lar), and ul­ti­mately forged my ca­reer which led to me end­ing up writ­ing about these very cars for a liv­ing, and even­tu­ally to be­com­ing edi­tor of this very mag­a­zine. Yes, the fact that I’m sat here now typ­ing this can be di­rectly linked to that fate­ful mo­ment I sat in that RS500 twenty years ago.

The man that owned that very car is the man you see here driv­ing this rather spe­cial Saph; his name is Pete Wooltor­ton. And while I was busy wor­ship­ping his cars, Pete was hav­ing his own as­pi­ra­tions of big­ger and bet­ter things. “The car we all as­pired to own back then was a heav­ily-mod­i­fied Sap­phire called Snow Storm – one of the iconic big­power builds to come from Tur­bosys­tems – it was pretty fa­mous and I still own one of its mag fea­tures from 1999,” rem­i­nisces Pete, “I used to see it all the time. It’d pop along to a meet, outrun all of us, and then bug­ger off again. I wanted that car so badly…”

The fact that a man who had the keys to three highly tuned Cossies of his own still cov­eted thy neigh­bour speaks vol­umes, and should give you some kind of idea just how spe­cial Snow Storm was. It was a truly pi­o­neer­ing car, with plenty of quirky, one­off, and cus­tom up­grades.

Let’s start with the en­gine. 590bhp is a lot by to­day’s stan­dards, but over 20 years ago it was un­heard of. But if that wasn’t enough, Snow Storm also had a 50bhp shot of ni­trous to boost that fig­ure to 640bhp!

The ba­sis for this colos­sal power was pretty much an RS500 Tour­ing Car en­gine with bits the BTCC wouldn’t al­low then added to give even greater power. The ca­pac­ity re­mains at 1993cc, but the block it­self was stress-re­lieved and wire-rung to cope with the greater boost pres­sures. The pis­tons re­duced the com­pres­sion ra­tio to 7.2:1, while the ported head with lairy cams was clamped down tightly thanks to a long head stud con­ver­sion. It all sounds quite com­mon and even a tad out­dated these days, but back in the ’90s this was all cut­ting-edge stuff.

An­other quirky one-off was the in­ter­cooler sys­tem. Yes, it boasts a gen­uine RS500 in­ter­cooler, but the cooled air ex­it­ing the core is then blown through an ad­di­tional charge­cooler sys­tem be­fore it en­ters the in­let. This ex­tra cool­ing en­sured that the ACTs re­mained cool and sta­ble dur­ing full-bore track ses­sions, while the be­spoke oil breather sys­tem that looks like a com­pli­cated web of braided hoses and Aero­quip fit­tings kept the YB fully lubed up at all times. The re­sult of all this was plenty of power, but per­haps even more im­pres­sive was the stag­ger­ing 549lb.ft @ 7500rpm! And the YB screamed all the way round to 8500rpm!

To keep all this fury in check, Tur­bosys­tems suf­fi­ciently beefed up the trans­mis­sion, sus­pen­sion, and brakes too. Hooked up to the YB is a Rich­mond six-speed NASCAR-spec gear­box that was de­signed to run along­side big Amer­i­can V8s. “It’s a bit agri­cul­tural,” Pete smirks, “but it gets the job done. Be­sides, it was the only thing around that could take the power and torque back then.”

Un­der the rear end is equally in­trigu­ing. The stock Cossie set-up is long gone, in its place is a Quaife lim­ited-slip diff. “Some peo­ple say they think it might be a diff unit from a Metro 6R4 rally car,” Pete ex­plains, “but I can’t find out for def­i­nite what the ex­act spec of it is. All I know is it’s huge and fit­ted with its own cool­ing sys­tem.”

“The car we all as­pired to own back then was a heav­ily-mod­i­fied Sap­phire called Snow Storm – one of the iconic big-power builds to come from Tur­bosys­tems...”

See, I told you this car had some ‘odd­i­ties’. Not least of all those brakes. If you peer through the oh-so-‘90s three-spokes you’ll spot some rather size­able 330mm AP Rac­ing discs and four-pot calipers at all four cor­ners. But look closely at the fronts and you’ll see there are ac­tu­ally two calipers per wheel! Don’t for­get 8-pots and huge brake up­grades sim­ply weren’t available off-theshelf back then, so ev­ery­thing had to

be cus­tom-made. It’s ex­actly this kind of ‘think­ing out­side of the box’ that made Snow Storm such an icon of its era.

Which brings us back to Pete’s story, and ex­plains why he longed for the car to be his. “I tried to the buy the car a few times over the years. It was lo­cal, I knew the orig­i­nal owner – El­lis Gee – and I’d al­ways kept tabs on where it was and what it was do­ing,” re­mem­bers Pete, “it was parked up for a few years while El­lis took on a new busi­ness project.”

Back in 2004, Pete tried to buy the car for the first time. A deal was nearly done, but it kind of faded out and noth­ing ever hap­pened, so this once fa­mous Ford was sat in the same spot it had been for years, grass grow­ing up to the door han­dles and cov­ered in dirt and dust.

The car then moved around for a bit and Pete lost touch with El­lis, so when it fi­nally came time to sell El­lis couldn’t get in touch with Pete. “I was gut­ted,” he ex­claims, “I’d thought I’d missed the chance to own it.” But in a quirk of fate, Pete also knew the new owner too, so once again kept tabs on the car and its progress.

That meant when it popped up for sale again in 2016, our man was ready to pounce. “I got the phonecall from a mate telling me it was up for sale just as I was about to step on a plane for my mate’s stag-do,” cries Pete, “so I told him to stall the seller and I’ll be back in a week.” Seven days later, Snow Storm was Pete’s.

Con­sid­er­ing the car had been off the road for 15 years, sur­pris­ingly lit­tle work was needed to get it back into ser­vice. “I just cleaned up and freed-off the brakes, changed the oil and fil­ters in ev­ery­thing and I had it on the road,” Pete smiles, “al­though I should have re­alised that would be too good to be true…”

In­deed, the highly-tuned YB ran sweetly, boosted well, and pulled strong. But af­ter a few miles it be­came ap­par­ent that all was not well. “The in­jec­tors had gummed

up and it would only start on the sec­ond bank. And then it melted the coolant temp sen­sor in the head and started mas­sively over­fu­elling. At that point I de­cided the only an­swer was to pull the en­gine and give it a thor­ough once over.”

The recom­mis­sion­ing process en­sured the orig­i­nal spec of the build re­mains, but the YB now runs healthy with new rings, shells, oil pump, and a fresh set of gas­kets to but­ton it all up. “I then dropped it off with Har­vey and Jim Gibbs at SCS for them to check ev­ery­thing over,” ex­plains Pete, “the turbo had seen bet­ter days, so Har­vey or­dered a re­place­ment T4 to the same spec from Vince and Mark at Turbo Per­for­mance.”

Har­vey also tried to work out what the weird twin-ECU set-up on the car is, with the most likely can­di­date be­ing an old Su­per­chips add-on from back in the early days. Cou­pled to it is an in­te­grated Race­l­ogic trac­tion con­trol sys­tem, which al­lows for full- throt­tle gear shifts and launch con­trol too!

With the car run­ning sweet once again, Pete took the car to Ford Fest at Santa Pod last year for this fa­mous car’s first out­ing in nearly 20 years! As you can imag­ine, the re­sponse was a mixed bag of love from those old enough to re­mem­ber this car from its hey­day, and con­fu­sion from the younger gen­er­a­tions who didn’t quite un­der­stand why pe­riod de­tails like the three-spokes need to stay.

In fact, noth­ing on this car’s go­ing to change. “This car is a leg­end in its own right, and to change any­thing would just be an in­sult to the car’s his­tory,” ex­plains Pete, “and that in­cludes the way it’s driven. It wasn’t built to be a con­cours trailer-queen. It was meant to have oily bits and de­signed to be thrashed at full throt­tle, and I in­tend to up­hold that tra­di­tion!”

In do­ing so, Pete and Snow Storm are at­tract­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of Ford lovers to scene, and so the cy­cle con­tin­ues…


Old faith­ful T4 turbo has been re­cently re­freshed in an­tic­i­pa­tion of plenty of abuse!

The tiger stripe liv­ery has al­ways been a Ford favourite, but they are syn­ony­mous with Tur­bosys­tems cars

The car is packed full of 90s tech­nol­ogy

One of Snow Storm’s fa­mous fea­tures are the twin-caliper front brakes

Blue har­nesses match the cus­tom-made blue seat­belts

Rear diff boasts a com­pre­hen­sive cool­ing pack­age

Hy­draulic hand­brake has its own slave cylin­der mounted in the cen­tre con­sole

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