Rally-spec 1982 Ford Fiesta Mk1
Beautifully prepared with an outstanding motorsport spec, this Ford Fiesta Mk1 is just waiting for its time to shine…
Words and photos DANIEL BEVIS
THE WAITING GAME RALLY FORD FIESTA MK1
Minty-fresh motorsport build, aching to get dirty
Motorsport, by its very nature, is a rough-and-tumble sort of affair – a hot, smoky, greasy playground necessarily studded with sizzling fluids, bits of grit, and spatters of blood from scraped knuckles. It’s just the nature of the beast. So as a rule of thumb, you can assume that competition-oriented cars will take function over form; sure, it’s in their interest to be reasonably presentable in order for the sponsors’ livery to be seen by the paying public in the best light, and top-flight builds will have been honed in obsessively clean workshops by eggheads in white coats, but when it comes to rubbing shoulders with your fiercest rivals out there on the tarmac or through the forests… hey, it’s every person for themselves, and if you need to gaffer tape something back on or bash it back into shape with a hammer, that’s just the way it is.
It’s quite a treat, then, to find a car such as this Fiesta: built solely for the purpose of going fast, and yet prepared so beautifully and with such astonishing precision and attention to detail, it would surely be more appropriate to keep it hermetically sealed in a dust-free museum for enthusiasts to paw at the Perspex walls that keep it safe, rather than opening its taps and firing it at the horizon.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to get it dirty? Well, no, not really. The fastidious presentation is merely a by-product of a well thought-out build. Make no mistake, this is no show pony. While it may well be the cleanest Mk1 Fiesta you’ve seen for some time, it was built as a pure competition machine. And after a protracted period in stasis, it’s more than ready to play.
When this Fiesta trundled off the production line back in 1982, it was a lowly 1.1 L – a basic shopper-spec hatchback, set for a life of frugality and sensibleness. It’s safe to say things have changed a little since then… Around five years ago, the car was fully rebuilt for fast-road, hillclimb and historic rally use; it had been registered as a Cat C in 1999, which made it a good donor to tear down to a bare shell and totally rebuild from scratch. At the time of our photoshoot, however, this painstakingly crafted rally weapon was still yet to turn a wheel in anger. Since the build was completed, the Fiesta sat in storage before being sold – the previous owner who commissioned the build was in the RAF, and receiving a new posting meant that he wasn’t able to compete in the Fiesta like he’d planned. In early 2020 it was then bought by a new owner, who was keen to enter it into the Rallye Monte Carle Historique – although the event was cancelled due to Covid, so again the box-fresh Fiesta found itself sitting in the garage, waiting for its time to shine. And then that owner’s priorities also changed, so the car was once again put up for sale.
It’s an unusual story of an impressive car that’s just struggling to find the right fit. But as you can see, the specification of the build is divine. Under that forward-hinging bonnet we find a motor that’s a million miles removed from the 1.1-litre unit that originally resided in there. Eagle-eyed retro aficionados may recognise the super-rare rocker cover as sporting the lightning flash logo of C&T (aka Conversion & Tuning), an outfit founded in Brixton in the late-1960s whose impressive prowess in the tuning aftermarket saw the firm surviving on into the 1980s. This jewel-like artefact sits atop a 711M-block 1600 crossflow, running twin 40 Weber DCOE carbs. There’s Accuspark ignition and an uprated high-performance radiator with Stant cap, with performance hoses throughout. The twin electric fuel pumps are mounted in the boot, and electrical cut-off isolators are found inside and outside the car as demanded by motorsport regs. The Fiesta has a competition exhaust system, and the transmission is a robust 5-speed ’box from an Escort RS Turbo, complete with LSD. Naturally a hydraulic handbrake is plumbed in, essential for those mountain hairpins…
Underpinning it all with forthright motorsport prowess is a set of Bilstein shocks with competition springs, working with an adjustable Panhard rod from Orbital Motorsport, there’s an alloy fuel tank guard – and for those moments when you find yourself at full-tilt in a Welsh forest as a sheep casually wanders into your path, a pair of very vocal air horns are fitted!
The cabin is of singular focus – specced for competition, with all the right bits; a full rollcage along with rear strut brace, plus a pair of Cobra Monaco bucket seats with Securon harnesses. The original dash and dials reside behind a suede OMP steering wheel, with an additional oil pressure gauge fitted and an Omex Clubman rev-limiter module. There’s a Lifeline 2000 standalone fire extinguisher, and the navigator gets an alloy footrest and extending map light. All of the vital switchgear, fuses, engine start button, electrical cut-off and fire extinguisher switch sit in a custom centre console. And outside? Well, there are few finer sights than a classic Ford in full motorsport livery, right? This ’82 Mk1 wears period-correct Lombard RAC Rally colours, which complements the crisp white paint splendidly, the nose sporting quarter bumpers and Hella Rallye 2000 spotlights between the XR2-spec round headlights, while the colour-coded wheels are 7x13” Minilites with DMACK Grippa DMT-RC tyres, a compound and tread pattern optimised for tarmac rallies.
This is a really interesting car, in that it’s been dressed up for a party that it didn’t get to attend; built with the intention of rallying and hillclimbing, but then denied, and then bought to enter into a historic rally and denied once again. Who knows, perhaps since our shoot it’s already out there with an eager new owner competing in the rallies it so deserves to enjoy? But right here, right now, as a snapshot in time, you’ll surely agree it’s a magnificent thing to behold. A beautifully built Mk1 that’s positively shimmering with potential and aching to get dirty.
Bilsteins join a Panhard rod from Orbital Motorsport to keep it planted in the twisties. charming fusion of original appointments and race-derived upgrades Full FIA-spec and ready to compete The OMEX Clubman has a launch control function.
When this Mk1 Fiesta trundled off the production line in 1982, it was a lowly shopper-spec 1.1 L. It’s safe to say things have changed a little since then…
TECH SPEC RALLY MK1 FIESTA
- ENGINE 1600 crossflow – 711M-block, twin Weber 40 DCOE carburettors, C&T rocker cover, Accuspark ignition, uprated radiator with Stant cap, performance hoses, twin electric fuel pumps, competition exhaust system, air horns
- TRANSMISSION Escort RS Turbo 5-speed manual, LSD
- SUSPENSION Bilstein shocks, competition springs, Orbital Motorsport Panhard rod BRAKES Competition pads, braided lines, hydraulic handbrake
- WHEELS & TYRES 7x13” Minilites, 195/50 DMACK Grippa DMT-RC tyres
- EXTERIOR Lombard RAC Rally livery, XR2 rear spoiler, XR2 headlights, front quarter bumpers, Hella Rallye 2000 spotlights
- INTERIOR Cobra Monaco seats, Securon harnesses, competition rollcage, rear strut brace, suede OMP steering wheel, additional oil pressure gauge, OMEX Clubman revlimiter module, Lifeline 2000 standalone fire extinguisher, alloy passenger footrest and extending map light, custom centre console