Ford Heritage Centre

Made in Dagenham: Ford’s secret classic car collection

Ford Heritage CentreTucked away on the outskirts of Ford’s sprawling Dagenham factory is a small, slightly ramshackle warehouse. Inside is a huge array of classic cars representing 113 years of Blue Oval history. From Cortinas to Cosworths, we lifted up up the dust sheets to photograph the highlights.

Ford Heritage CentreFord Sierra RS Cosworth

The mighty Sierra RS Cosworth is an icon. A turbocharged 204hp 2.0-litre 16-valve engine meant 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 149mph – serious stuff in 1986. This particular car was used for development work at Dunton, Essex, and it still fitted with a rollcage.

Ford Heritage CentreFord Escort RS Cosworth

The 1992 Escort witnessed the second coming of Cosworth. It retained the trademark ‘whale tail’ wing of its predecessor (albeit as an option), but boasted 225hp and four-wheel drive. The ‘Cossie’ was also a successful rally car, before being replaced by the Focus WRC in 1999.  

Ford Heritage CentreFord Fiesta

The Fiesta reached a major milestone in 2016. This 1976 model is 40 years old and – as a brief drive around Dagenham revealed – still in great shape. In fact, it was recently driven to Switzerland for the annual Geneva Motor Show. Not bad for 957cc…

Ford Heritage CentreFord Fiesta

The Mk2 Ford Fiesta arrived in 1983, facing rivals such as the Austin Metro and Vauxhall Nova. This is the back-to-basics 1.1 Popular Plus, with a four-speed manual gearbox.

Ford Heritage CentreFord Fiesta XR2

The 1980s were the halcyon days of the hot hatch, and the Fiesta XR2 was one of the biggest sellers. With a bodykit, spotlamps and ‘pepperpot’ alloys, it looked the business. Performance was less spectacular: 0-60mph in 10.2sec and 112mph flat-out.

Ford Heritage CentreFord Model T

The 1908 Ford Model T was the first car to be mass-produced. Doing so brought costs down, putting cars within the reach of ‘normal’ people. Thus the Model T changed the world more, perhaps, than any other car. Unlike most old cars, it looks remarkably big alongside modern metal.

Ford Heritage CentreFord RS200

Now for something somewhat swifter… The RS200 is one of the fastest and most exclusive Fords ever made. A road-legal rally car, it had a mid-mounted 1.8-litre 250hp turbocharged engine and lightweight fibreglass body panels. Only 200 road cars were made.

Ford Heritage CentreFord RS200

The rallying version of the RS200 was even more extreme. Designed to compete in the notorious Group B, it was boosted to 450hp and could hit 62mph in 3.8 seconds. Sadly, the Group B era was cut short in 1986 after several fatal crashes.

Ford Heritage CentreFord rally cars

Ford has a long history of rallying. Indeed, the rear-wheel-drive Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts and are among the most successful rally cars of all time. The Mk2 RS1800 in the foreground won the 1977 RAC Rally with Björn Waldegard at the wheel.