200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

It may have taken the best part of 20 years to finish, but Neil Shore’s Mk1 XR2 turbo is an incredible creation built from pure determination — and a love of Fiestas.

Words Simon Holmes

Photos Adrian Brannan


FIESTA XR2 TURBO — Force-fed Mk1 is 20 years in the making

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

Some projects can take a while to get going and we know that very few builds don’t hit a stumbling block or two along the way, but it’s down to the determination and love of Mk1 Fiestas that Neil Shore and his clean-cut, turbocharged XR2 ever made it back on the road.

“My first car was a Mk1 Fiesta Super Sport but it was rotten even back then,” remembers Neil. “But I loved it and with a set of twin 40s and a cam, it was faster than all my friend’s Vauxhall Nova SRs. I then owned another Mk1 Fiesta that was full rally-spec car, but that was a nightmare on the road so I sold that.”

Bitten by the Fiesta bug early on, Neil wanted another more usable but capable example and so went on to buy this genuine XR2 after seeing it featured in a magazine 20 years ago. “At the end of the feature it said it was for sale so I just had to have it,” he tells us.

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

Neil fell in love with it thanks largely to the fact it already been fitted with a ZVH turbo engine running a carb, but sadly the dream didn’t last long as Neil recalls he blew it up on the way home racing a Golf VR6 and soon had regrets. “I had bought it with my heart, not my head and later found out it was rotten in all the usual places,” he admits. “But I’ve always loved the Mk1 as they remind me of all the fun I had in my being 17 and having all the freedom at the turn of the key.”

Rebuild time

So motivated to carry on with the car, the first thing Neil did was get the engine rebuilt, as it turned out a gudgeon pin had come loose and wrecked a piston and bore. But at the same time, Neil also decided to improve the car by converting it to EFi and that’s when momentum began to slow down, as he explains.

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

“The car was sent to a company near where I lived to be put on Cosworth management and it stayed there for 18 months and by the time I got it back, I then started to see bits of rust here and there.”

As the usual story goes for old Fords, Neil began the repairs but the more he looked, the worse it got, so he wisely enlisted a friend to help with the bodywork and paint the car, but again the process ended up taking time. In fact, it was over two years until it was finished, thanks to replacement inner and outer sills, driver and passenger floor pans, a pair of front wings as well as a new crossmember, front panel, boot floor and both rear corners.

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

With the freshly-painted shell back home, Neil eagerly refitted the engine before finding life got in the way next, as he recalls. “I then moved and the car just got put in the garage full of parts and forgotten about for about five years. After I’d finished building a house, I then built a nice big garage so the car was moved there and the rebuild finally began once again.”

However, a little wiser than before, Neil realised the whole EFi conversion was rough in places and ended up redoing a lot of it himself, so again time began rolling by. “Each year I’d do a bit more and then lose interest and it went on like this for about another six years. The car was running by this point, was but never ready to drive,” he remembers.

Lockdown project

But then lockdown came and most people found they had a lot more free time on their hands to concentrate on things, such as Mk1 Fiesta project cars. Neil confirms, “I got the bug back then and started to put some proper time into the car. All the stuff that had been done over the years I decided to go back through properly and get it finished and back on the road.”

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

With light finally at the end of the tunnel and new enthusiasm to finish the car to a much higher standard than ever before, Neil pushed on and entrusted the help of a few specialists to help create the look he was after. Gary at Custom Cages was tasked to build an inlet manifold to match the custom exhaust manifold, which mounted the turbo over the gearbox as space was at a premium in the small engine bay, so getting it to look right meant lots of custom work. Neil tells us, “Colin at Creative Aluminium Fabrications built my custom intercooler and radiator package, which was needed as there was virtually no room in the engine bay and I wanted it all kept inside, as I didn’t want to cut out the front panel.”

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

To bring it up to date, Neil then bit the bullet, stopped trying to make the old Cosworth management work and splashed out on a Maxx ECU from Clarke at Ignition Advantages, before sending the car to Paul at Retro Wiring Services to make a custom loom. “It was then time to get it mapped at last, so it went back to Ignition Advantages and produced just shy of 200 bhp, as the turbo was too small for any more power. But I was happy with that anyway; in a car that only weighs 850 kg it’s plenty of power.” On the road at last, it was just the finishing touches left to do and Neil kept it subtle, with Mk1 Golf headlights, American-spec rear lights and those cool, custom graphics.

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

“I was happy with the way the car looked but it was missing something,” Neil recalls. “I wanted the original decals but wasn’t keen on the colour, so took it to Dave at DMB Graphics and he made me a custom set in a dark grey, which really set the car off.”

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

Keeping going

Neil could have given up on the project at any point over the last 20 years but we’re glad he saw it through to the end and marked it off as completed, although he was sad to explain he’s since decided to now sell the car. “I like my cars raw and I like everything about it. It’s epic to drive and although I’ve not put many miles on it I’ve decided to crack on with a Mk2 Escort build, as I need to get one now before they just become unreachable,” he admits.

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

We hope that one doesn’t turn into a 20-year long build, as Neil clearly has a knack for putting together a nice Ford, even if it does take a while.

Tech Spec
  • Body 1982 XR2, Mk1 VW Golf smoked headlight conversion, US-spec rear lights. Paint: Ford Black with custom XR2 decals
  • Engine 2.1-litre ZVH turbo, 2-litre Zetec bottom end, forged 86 mm pistons, steel rods, ARP rod bolts, lightened and balanced crankshaft, Kent Cams CVH35 camshaft and vernier pulley, CNC-machined head with new valves, lifters and rocker arms, Custom Cages inlet manifold, Cosworth throttle body, custom exhaust manifold, T3 hybrid with billet wheel 0.48 housing, Thermo-Tec covered manifold and down pipe, Vauxhall VXR injectors, Anembo Engineering trigger wheel set-up, Maxx Pro ECU and lambda sensor, swirl pot and twin Bosch 044 fuel pumps, Zetec coil pack with two-channel amp conversion, custom intercooler and radiator, Spal 16 inch fan, custom stainless-steel exhaust, Retro Wiring Services custom engine and car loom
  • Transmission CTS Stage 2 BC gearbox with Quaife LSD, Vibra-Technics mounts, custom driveshafts, uprated clutch with hydraulic slave cylinder
  • Suspension Front: GAZ Shocks coil-overs and rear dampers, DA Performance adjustable top mounts, custom adjustable front end. Rear: GAZ Shocks dampers, Orbital Motorsport adjustable rear arms and ARB set-up, Rutland-style rear axle with custom adjustable spring platforms, rear strut brace
  • Brakes Front: HiSpec Motorsport four-pot callipers with Orbital Motorsport brackets. Rear: XR2 drums. Arrow Engineering pedal box
  • Wheels and tyres 7x13 and 8.25x13 inch banded steel wheels with 175/50R13 Yokohama A520 tyres
  • Interior Safety Devices roll cage, flocked dash, Sparco on-board computer, boost gauge, RS Turbo front seats with harnesses, stripped rear with custom cover
  • Thanks Gary at Custom Cages, Lee at Banded Steels Motorsport, Clarke at Ignition Advantages, Colin at Creative Aluminium Fabrications, Paul at Retro Wiring Services

With the XR2 finally back on the road, Neil’s now cracking on with a Mk2 Escort build. Spare wheel well is ideal place to house the fuel system and relocated battery.

The 2.1-litre ZVH has evolved over the years and now runs a proper Maxx ECU. Tight space in the Mk1 bay means the turbo has been mounted above the gearbox. Sparco monitor keeps tabs on the ZVH’s health.

200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

RS Turbo Recaros are a neat nod to the ’90s.


200bhp 1982 Ford Fiesta XR2 turbo Mk1

XR2 graphics were custom-made in a darker tint. Steels (right) were widened to really fill the arches.



It was after the car finally ran that Neil decided it was time to sort the stance out and he decided to go a different path with how the car sat. “I know people in the Ford scene don’t often run camber and a stretched tyre, but I’m a massive fan of the look, so my pal and I machined up some wedges for the adjustable rear axle and set it to run at 3.5 degrees negative camber,” Neil explains. To complete the look, Neil had the banded steel wheels custom made to match, measuring 7x13 inches at the front and 8.25x13 at the rear. “My favourite part of the car is how it looks from the back with that stance and how low it sits,” Neil tells us.

Article type:
Dan Bevis Dan Bevis 1 month ago #

Very cool old Fiesta Slipper

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