When Michael Caine set his heart on buying a Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth, he couldn’t have dreamt of what he was about to unearth…

Words by Matt James, Motorsport News. Photos by Jakob Ebrey & Michael Caine

The 52-year-old car trader always had a hankering for the Blue Oval’s sporting products, and it started when his working life began.

Caine explains: “My first job was as a trainee car salesman at a place called Gilbert Rice in Cambridge, which was the official RS dealer for the area. I was there when I was 17, so it was 1988, which was prime time for the Ford Sierra RS500.

“The car in the showroom that we loved and the one that all the public wanted to come along and look at was the Cosworth. Because we were an RS dealership, we would get tickets to go and watch the British Touring Car Championship – they were sent through by Andy Rouse Engineering.

“When I went, the car that stood out to me was the Kaliber number one car. It was always at the front and I loved the fact that, to me, Andy Rouse just reminded me of an accountant, not a racing driver. That is what got me into racing. The BTCC and going along in my little Ford Fiesta Popular. I used to love it.”

The starry-eyed teenager was soon to take to the track himself in a VW Scirocco in the much-missed Slick 50 Road Saloons category. He even won a title. From there, he progressed through sportscars and claimed the TVR Tuscan championship in 2000. Outings in Porsches followed and he claimed the British GT championship silverware in 2012 in a Motorbase Performance 911 alongside Daniele Perfetti.

Andy Rouse's Ford Sierra RS500 disguised by a reworked livery.

In the background, there was plenty of wheeler-dealing going on in the car trade and, late last year, Caine decided to make his boyhood dreams come true. He heard on the grapevine about a Ford Sierra RS500 that was available to buy.

“When I was told that this car was around, I realised that my heart was going to rule my head – and my wallet too,” he explains. “I went to see it in October last year, and what we were led to believe was that it was known as the FET car because that was the sponsor on it. It had competed in the Japanese Touring Car Championship in 1990 and then it had sat in a museum ever since.

“I looked around it and fell in love. It looked amazing but we really didn’t know what we were getting into. I took along Alec and Harry from Premier Motorsport, who are marque experts. I didn’t really know anything, so having them there was useful.”

Caine wanted the hardware and he bought it. While there was no grand plan to go and tackle an entire historic or classic race series, there was just a scheme to take it out on occasions, hopefully climb up the competitive order and maybe sell it on for a small profit. That was the initial idea anyway, but things soon changed.

Under the bonnet of the Ford Sierra RS500

“We got it back to Premier Motorsport and we started putting some work into it,” explains Caine. “There were some bits of the car we couldn’t figure out. We were trying to understand what we needed to do to the car and the more we looked at it, the more we saw it had quite a few Andy Rouse Engineering bits on it. The engine had ARE01 stamped on it, for example.

“It had also come with a box of bits that had been taken off the Ford Sierra RS500 and replaced with more up-to-date things, using more modern technology. Even at that point, we really didn’t know what it was. The guys did a bit more research and looked at pictures – thousands of them. The boys were sending me photos at 2am and saying ‘look at this shot of the interior – that’s the same dashboard!’

“I still refused to believe it,” admits Caine. “Then the boys rubbed down the rear quarter panel and took the rear lights out. We got down to the original paint job and we realised that it wasn’t the Kaliber colours. But it turned out that the paint we had uncovered was the colour scheme that Rouse had used when he raced the car at Macau at the end of the season.”

So that was the start of the journey to uncover the car’s history. It had raced in the Far East and had been the machine that four-time title winner Rouse had used on the streets of the former Portuguese colony.

“I still, even at that point, didn’t think that it was Andy’s original car. No-one could be that lucky,” says Caine. “I managed to get hold of Andy, which was, for me, enough in itself. He is a hero, so just to talk to him was unbelievable.

“They say never meet your heroes, but he was fabulous. He said that it probably wasn’t his car. We sent him some photos and he wasn’t sure, so then I took the car to him and let him have a look around it. Andy walked up to the car, got on his hands and knees – at 74 years of age – and crawled underneath it. He literally hung his head out and said ‘yes, this is my car’. I was blown away.

Andy Rouse inspects his old Ford Sierra RS500

“He was able to list off all the stuff that was on the car that wouldn’t be on anyone else’s Ford Sierra RS500. There was some crash damage from when his steering rack broke at Oulton Park and he put it in the wall at Druids. He showed us the repair from that. All the dash and all the switch gear was right. It had a little lug on the roll cage because he used to have a bar that ran from the seat to the cage because he had had a seat break before, so he strengthened it.”

So that was the verification that the car’s new owner needed to hear. It was official, it was an ex-Rouse car and Caine had virtually struck gold. While it was what he wanted to know, it also meant that he had bitten off more than he had originally thought.

“That knowledge presented us with a problem: to get the car right again, it needed to be strictly done to how Andy Rouse would have had it when he raced it in 1989. It could no longer be the FET car that I wanted to just go and barrel around in,” explains Caine.

“What we found was underneath the blue paint on the car, which Rouse had raced at Macau, were all the original Kaliber stripes. We were able to rub down parts of the car and get the exact measurements of the flashes, match the colours exactly and things like that. Even to the tape on the rear lights: it still had the marks where the tape had been peeled off.

“We put it right back into its Kaliber colours and we even used the very same paint oven that they had used when the car was brand new.”

Once it was complete, all shiny and back to as-new, there was one other thing that Caine wanted to make happen. He invited Rouse to drive the rebuilt car on a British Racing Drivers’ Club track day at Silverstone in March this year. The offer was accepted and the circle had finally been completed.

“The suspension and spring rates are exactly as it was in the day because Andy gave me the set-up sheets that he had. It is 100% authentic,” explains Caine. “There is a small change in the engine management system which is far better at protecting the powerplant than the systems of the day, but that is the only thing we have altered.

“Putting the car back together didn’t take that long, because a lot of the bits that they had taken off and put in the box that came with the car, we put back on. We didn’t need to do any bodywork or get rid of any rust, because there was none on it. That’s because all it had done was sit in a museum after eight rounds in Japan.

“We got the car in the October and Andy drove it in March. We just hoped and prayed that it didn’t break down and that we would have a dry day. Andy turned up and drove for six or seven laps, but then he stayed with us for another hour and a half.


“Everyone was so pleased that he drove it. When we started the programme, others said to me that he wouldn’t drive the car because he wasn’t into that sort of thing anymore. But he did, and for him to come and drive it and take the time out to show his interest was a highlight for me. He complimented the guys on how the car felt.

“Andy is still helping now: even to the point that he was emailing me last week because we had some questions about it and he was offering advice and tips to help us perfect it. He is always there to tap into for advice.”

Having the provenance of the Ford Sierra RS500 established means that far from Caine letting his heart rule his head, he has actually invested extremely wisely. The value of the car won’t be tested until it goes up for sale, but its proud owner is happy. So how much does Caine reckon it is worth?

“It wouldn’t be car of the week on my forecourt at £10,995, put it that way…” he quips. “It is a special treasure and it is now worth significantly more than I bought it for. If I sell it now, it looks like I have done the car dealer thing and turned it around for a quick profit, but I am not going to do that.

“I am going to the Ford Fair at Silverstone this weekend [August 14, 2022] and show it off there. If the motor trade is kinder to me than it has been, then I will maybe go and do some races in it next year. It is the sort of car that needs to be seen by as many people as possible. I simply love it.”

If you’d like to go and see this incredibly special Ford in the flesh, you still can! Click here to head over to the Ford Fair ticket sales page. The weather this weekend is set to be stunning…