BIKE-ENGINED MK1 FIESTA

Bonkers, bike-engined, bril­liant.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words and Pho­tos Jon Hill

He wasn’t happy was he? Did you see it? To­tally an­ni­hi­lated him, there was no way he was keep­ing up and he se­ri­ously had the hump — I mean how much was that car? A for­tune and it was brand new! Just love it man, that’s what it’s all about.”

Con­fused and cu­ri­ous to know what they’re talk­ing about, I’ve just walked into early morn­ing ban­ter; re­flec­tions on the night be­fore. From what I’m hear­ing I’m proud that one of ‘our’ cars had to­tally em­bar­rassed a mod­ern per­for­mance car just hours be­fore. Even more so in that it was a BMW M4 and the thrashee? Lawrence Darcy’s bike-engined Fiesta — the one I last caught up with on a Grafters fea­ture a year ago.

I have to ad­mit, I love do­ing Grafters fea­tures — you get to see a right mix of projects from the sub­lime to the quite frankly, to­tally out­ra­geous. Some that you just know will never make it in a mil­lion years, oth­ers like Lawrence’s you kind of hope it doesn’t fall by the way­side. Be­cause, lets face it, while there’s noth­ing new in drop­ping a bike en­gine in a car, it’s fraught with a bil­lion prob­lems to make it hap­pen. Prob­lems you sim­ply take for granted in a nor­mal build — like the ba­sic task of driv­ing the car back­wards…

Good to go

Let’s rewind to Novem­ber 2015. I met Lawrence at his lock up with his mate, Wayne Caplin. It’s Lawrence’s project but Wayne’s one of those blokes that are al­ways around; fir­ing you up, full of good ideas, and thor­oughly in­quis­i­tive when it comes to tech­nol­ogy. At the time, Lawrence was at the strip­down stage of this car’s build, one that had re­vealed all sorts of prob­lems that needed sort­ing, but the ba­sic fact was that it worked!

And it worked well, too. The mid-mounted bun­dle of in­san­ity in the form of a 190 bhp Kawasaki Ninja mo­tor made the ul­tra-light­ened Fiesta’s body ex­tremely tail-happy — all to the point where the drive­shafts had bro­ken ren­der­ing it game over for that par­tic­u­lar test ses­sion. When I caught up with Lawrence, the

car was stripped back to the shell and ready to be slot­ted into the paintshop to be squirted with Porsche Gauschwarz; the colour you’re more likely to see on a GT3 RS.

To fill in a bit, the Fiesta form­ing the base of the project was the car we all want to find — a one-owner, old boy min­ter that needed min­i­mal weld­ing. True, the 1100 Cross­flow was seized, but that was com­ing out any­way. All it re­ally needed was a pair of new wings and a few bits here and there, but it was mostly rock solid thanks to be­ing Ziebarted from new. And the en­gine choice was a nat­u­ral one due to the world that Lawrence and Wayne are caught up in. A choice made even more nat­u­ral when a friend’s writ­ten-off bike be­came avail­able, al­low­ing it to be eco­nom­i­cally bro­ken — it gave up a pile of nec­es­sary and vi­tal parts to make the build more straight­for­ward than it could have been.

Cut­ting crew

Mat­ing it to the car was the daunt­ing part. “It was such a mint shell to cut the back of the floor

“YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO SEE THIS CHOICE OF PAINT COLOUR ON A PORSCHE GT3 RS”

out of, but once you start it doesn’t take much to get it out although I’d braced it all up to make sure the shell didn’t move,” says Lawrence. Then it was a case of us­ing a Safety De­vices front cage, then scratch build­ing the rest from 38 mm CDS tube. Us­ing a mix of orig­i­nal and cus­tom parts, the en­gine’s solid mounted off the frame. “You can’t rub­ber mount it be­cause it has a chain drive, so the aim is zero flex since it’ll make the chain come off!”

One of the prob­lems that stopped play were the drive­shafts. The cen­tre sec­tion is from a Sierra Cosworth while the new shafts have been made up by Beres­ford Engi­neer­ing, cou­pled with cus­tom light­ened sprock­ets linked to the Kawasaki se­quen­tial ‘box via that chain drive.

Logic says that a bike en­gine won’t be able to move the weight of a car’s body sim­ply be­cause it’s a race en­gine with no torque and all revs. That’s true to an ex­tent, so you have to take ac­tion to make sure it all works. Los­ing weight’s the key — the Fiesta’s a great choice in the first place but it still needs to shed pounds to stand much more of a fight­ing chance.

“I’ve drilled the in­sides of the door frames to a cheese-like skele­ton, while the bon­net, tail­gate, bumpers and spoiler are now car­bon fi­bre. The glass has gone too in favour of Poly­car­bon­ate — ev­ery­thing you can do to lose weight.”

No mat­ter how much weight you lose though there’s a lot of tech­nique in driv­ing a bike engined car. “It’s hard to bal­ance the clutch and throt­tle pedal be­cause they are so sen­si­tive — try­ing to get the me­chan­i­cal ra­tio right is hard

“THE CAR RE­ALLY FLIES BUT IT’S A RIGHT HAND­FUL YOU RE­ALLY HAVE TO BE AWAKE AND PAY­ING AT­TEN­TION”

— just rest your foot on the throt­tle and it’s revving. So, ini­tially it’ll go dead straight, but yes it goes side­ways easy as you like. Get­ting down the quar­ter mile was real chal­lenge; it just kept bog­ging — what you have to do is boot it us­ing all the revs, but that it­self cre­ated clutch prob­lems be­cause it just kept slip­ping. Hence it’s now been up­rated with a bil­let clutch bas­ket, heavy-duty springs and Bar­net clutch plates meant for turbo ap­pli­ca­tions.” The last bit Lawrence says with a know­ing grin…

In progress

It’s devel­op­ment work that’s been to­tally nec­es­sary as the Fiesta now runs low 12-sec­ond quar­ter mile times at the Pod although there’s more in it yet. “It flies off the lights but it’s a right hand­ful — you re­ally have to be awake and pay­ing at­ten­tion. It’s skit­tish in the wet and it’ll re­ally catch you out if you’re not care­ful!”

Hav­ing said all this, you just know Lawrence has a load more planned. “I’m just sort­ing out a flat-shift kit for it so you don’t have to lift your foot off the throt­tle to change gear…” But the big­gest plan is still to come: “I fancy a big dirty turbo stick­ing out the side — prob­a­bly a GT28 roller bear­ing, although it’ll need a cus­tom man­i­fold and plenum but we should see around 300 bhp — even 400.”

As mad as cars like these are, they do need moun­tains of devel­op­ment work. Above all, they need peo­ple like Lawrence and Wayne. Projects like this one just keep giv­ing and giv­ing pure en­ter­tain­ment.

Lawrence (left) built the Fiesta with loads of help (and mickey-tak­ing) from mate Wayne.

Golf crys­tal head­lamps suit the Fiesta a treat.

Neat cus­tom mounts keep the ra­di­a­tor in check.

GAZ coil-overs work with the cus­tom wish­bone set-up.

Stripped-out in­te­rior is de­signed to save weight. For ease, the ’bike clocks have been mounted into the (now flocked) Fiesta dash.

The fuel tank now lives un­der the bon­net along with the ZX-12R’s ra­di­a­tor, though Lawrence is soon to up­grade this to a be­spoke item.

A be­spoke rear frame con­nects to the Safety De­vices roll cage. The en­gine is solid-mounted to it, along with the wish­bone sus­pen­sion.

Lawrence reck­ons the Fiesta is very tail-happy. Even so, he’s look­ing to go down the turbo route.

Black-painted Ally Cats just add to the stealth ap­peal of this Mk1.

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