The tourist BTCC-bodied 300bhp 1995 Ford Mondeo Mk1
A genuine ex-BTCC race car that was then campaigned in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia with a Cosworth YB and — now in New Zealand — still racing today? There’s a lot to unpack here…
Words Daniel Bevis
Photos Richard Opie
THE TOURIST BTCC MONDEO
It’s an enduring reality of motorsport that race cars aren’t built for posterity or longevity. They aren’t conceived to one day become icons. They’re just built to win. The team in question takes all of the know-how and technology – and budget – available to them and puts together the most competitive machine they can. And then, after a season or two, they build something better and chuck the old one away.
Yet with a renewed and growing interest in the Supertouring era of the British Touring Car Championship, it’s pleasing to find that enough of these racers of various brands exist to fill a grid or two and let them ride again in period style, and the car we have here is a genuine ex-BTCC entrant from 1995, wearing its period-correct livery. However, looking under the bonnet we find a Cosworth YB, transversely mounted no less, and anyone with a smattering of old-school BTCC knowledge will know that these cars ran hugely complicated small-capacity V6 engines… and yet, this Cossie motor is actually a very appropriate and period-correct addition; indeed, it’s crucial to the spec of this particular car’s heritage. How so? Well, let’s don the deerstalker and the magnifying glass and wade through a bit of history…
This car is one of two works Mondeos built for the 1995 BTCC season by Andy Rouse Engineering. It was driven by Kelvin Burt, who took one win at Snetterton and ended the season at eighth place in the driver’s championship. The car also ran concurrently in the FIA Touring Car World Cup, again with Burt at the wheel, placing sixth overall and top of the Mondeo entrants. However, at the end of the 1995 season its work was done and the team already had a keen eye on the development of the 1996 car, so this Mondeo was sold. The buyer was a Singaporean businessman by the name of David Wong, who had the car repainted in green and yellow Petronas livery and entered it into the Malaysian Touring Car Cup in 1997, driven by Gianfranco Brancatelli. And it’s at this point in the car’s life that it received its unusual engine. At Wong’s request, the Mondeo was converted to run this Mountune-built YB by Roger Dowson at Silverstone before shipping it to Singapore. The thinking behind this was that Ford of Germany had ordered back-to- back trials with the Supertouring V6 and the Cosworth YB to assess their relative merits, the testing carried out by Nicholson McLaren Engines, and this particular nat-asp unit was engineered by Dave Mountain and the Mountune team for that purpose. As well as making similar power to the V6, the YB was hoped to save significant weight, particularly when it came to the massively complicated exhaust manifold and system on the V6. Mountune were also keen to highlight the superior flow rates of the head and the engine’s inherent strength compared to BTCC rivals from Vauxhall and Renault.
Ford had officially chosen the V6 for BTCC use on the grounds that it was the superior engine, but the real reason was more likely that the halo effect helped to shift more Mondeo V6 road cars (even though the power units actually had very little in common). But for Wong’s purposes, the purity and reduced complexity of the four-cylinder engine made most sense — and given that Mountune had put in so much development work, the decision was a no-brainer. It was a cost-conscious and sympathetic conversion too: the 1995-spec six-speed Xtrac transmission was kept in situ, the YB (being 3 inches longer than the V6) butted up cosily against the right-hand bulkhead. Custom mounts were fabricated and pulley drives shrunk to squeeze it all in; Dowson rebuilt the gearbox and crafted a new loom, while the cooling system had to be massively uprated to suit the Southeast Asian climate.
As well as campaigning the Malaysian Touring Car Cup, the Mondeo raced in the Australian Super Touring Championship, again driven by Gianfranco Brancatelli, but by 2000 it seemed that its race career was finally done and the car was mothballed in storage, its fate uncertain. And there it languished for 16 years, until being rescued by its current owner, Conrad Timms.
“We found the Mondeo in Singapore in 2016, where it was being sold as part of a deceased’s estate along with several other race cars,” says Conrad. “It had sat for a very long time when we first saw it, initially in a museum but then latterly it seems to have been left outside. It was missing some parts too, such as the dash cluster, steering wheel and radiator, and was looking very unloved and in poor condition. We purchased it along with three other cars, and brought them back to New Zealand.”
Kiwi enthusiast, Conrad is an eminently appropriate custodian for such a project, as he has a little bit of form in this area: “I’ve owned somewhere between 50-100 cars I suppose, and about 99 per cent of them were Fords,” he explains. “Everything from Cortinas to Cosworths, and quite a few old Transits! My two previous race cars were actually both BMW E30 M3s, the last being a genuine Works DTM car from 1992. I currently have a few Fords in the fleet, including a 1972 Mk1 Transit with 302 V8, a 1986 Mk2 Transit (Supervan 2-style) with a supercharged V6, and a very rare 1978 Transit Sundowner.”
The man likes a van then, but he also knows his way around a race car, and this rare and jewel-like Mondeo was absolutely in safe hands.
“I didn’t know the full history of the car when I bought it,” Conrad continues. “The original chassis sticker had been removed, so all we knew was that it was a Rouse-built one, and from the rollcage design and fuel tank placement we knew it was a 1995 car. It was only when I was dismantling it that I found some writing underneath the grille: ‘BURT 33 RACE’. From that I was able to positively identify the car, Kelvin Burt’s race number in the 1995 Mondeo being 33; Alan Strachan in the UK, who worked for Andy Rouse at the time, was also instrumental in helping us identify it, so a big thank you to him; he told me to look for a small crack near the bulkhead, which they had discovered at the end of the 1995 season but didn’t bother to repair — and sure enough, it was exactly where he said!”
Back to ’95
With this discovery made and the provenance assured, the direction for the project was clear: Conrad would be fully restoring the car and painting it in its original 1995 livery. And despite having been sat unused for so long and spending so much time languishing out in the open air, the car was surprisingly solid. Upon stripping it down, Conrad discovered that the engine appeared to be in really good shape, looking as if it had not long had a rebuild and possibly a dyno pull. There was no rust in the bores and, while the water jackets were a bit clogged, a good clearout and some fresh gaskets and belts got it all ticking nicely. Similarly the Xtrac 206 ’box was pleasingly solid; it had a few odd ratios, but after fitting three new ratios and some new bearings it was good to go.
“I stripped the rest of the car back to a bare shell,” says Conrad. “The interior and engine bay paint were the original dark blue from 1995, and I left this alone. The exterior needed considerable tidying up, and was repainted in the original dark blue with the Valvoline stripes painted on, as they would originally have been. I also replaced the Pectel ECU with a new Life Racing ECU and had a new engine wiring loom made, as we could not tune the original unit. I finished the restoration in 2021, and have raced the car three times since then — and although it’s had a few small teething problems, it is showing some very good speed already.”
Conrad is a member of the Historic Touring Car association in New Zealand, the category catering for Group 2, Group 5, Group A, Group C (Australian) and Supertourers from 1970-2000, and the races regularly get fields of 30 cars — mostly Group A and Supertourers. So these days the Mondeo finds itself in some good company!
“I know that, technically speaking, the Mondeo raced with a V6 in this livery, and the four-cylinder YB was fitted afterwards,” he says. “But I have no intention of reverting back to the V6. The YB is a fabulous engine, probably a stronger unit, and parts are still readily available for them.” Besides, with so much history behind this layout, it’s equally historically valid to go either way. A 1995 Valvoline Mondeo would have run a V6, sure… but this Mondeo has spent almost all of its life with this Mountune YB under the bonnet, and that’s arguably a far more authentic option. Either way, the facts are clear: this is an exceptionally cool race car, with an exceptionally cool drivetrain, and it’s still out racing in the 2020s. Those 1990s engineers and pit crews would never have imagined it living this long.
- Body 1995 Ford Mondeo Mk1, restored to original spec and Valvoline/Burt livery
- Engine 2-litre Cosworth YB period-built by Mountune Race Engines, naturally aspirated, transversely mounted, standard bore and stroke, 12.2:1 compression ratio, custom mounts, custom pulleys, custom ITG air filtration system, oversize radiator, modified water pump, Life Racing ECU.
- Max Power: 300 bhp @ 8500 rpm
- Transmission Xtrac 206 six-speed sequential, transversely mounted
- Suspension Front: remote-reservoir dampers, twopiece lower wishbones. Rear: remote-reservoir dampers, parallel arms/forward link. Cockpit-adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars
- Brakes Front: AP Racing six-pot callipers with 15 inch discs. Rear: AP Racing two-pot callipers with 12 inch discs. Carbon metallic pads
- Wheels and tyres 8x19 inch Dymag cast magnesium wheels, Michelin slicks/wets
- Interior Sparco Circuit VTR bucket seat, OMP steering wheel, Stack digital display, full-width dash, carbon doorcards, full FIA rollcage
The interior was still in great shape when Conrad found the car, so he’s left well alone
Right: the Valvoline stripes are painted rather than decals — just like in the 1990s.
“THOSE 1990s ENGINEEERS WOULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED THIS MONDEO TO BE STILL OUT RACING”
Above: Carbon switch panel apes the factory original.
Custom gear-shifter tower needed for the six-speed Xtrac sequential set-up.
“BY 2000 THIS MONDEO’S RACE CAREER WAS OVER AND IT WAS MOTHBALLED ITS FATE UNCERTAIN”
It’s not often you see a transversely-mounted YB!
Remote reservoir dampers were state-of-the-art for 1995.
Exhaust manifold sits close to the bulkhead.
The YB really fills the Mondeo’s engine bay, but it’s a super-tidy install.
Centre-lock Dymags are so evocative of the era...