TURBO'D FI­ESTA

Thanks to a cus­tom turbo con­ver­sion, and plenty of sup­port­ing mods to keep it all to­gether, Nathan Birch’s lit­tle Fi­esta ST pro­duces over twice the orig­i­nal power out­put; 332.9bhp... on its low­est boost set­ting!

Fast Ford - - Contents - Words and pho­tos JON CASS

332bhp Mk6 ST was built to wow at shows and on the track.

When the Mk6 Fi­esta ST first hit the show­rooms back in 2005 (yes, it re­ally was that long ago!), it was seen as a real break­through for Ford. There hadn’t been a hot Fi­esta for far too long, but for­tu­nately fi­nally Ford came up with the goods in 2004 with the 150bhp Fi­esta ST. The feisty lit­tle Fi­esta de­liv­ered in ev­ery area, and many reck­oned its ca­pa­ble chas­sis could han­dle plenty more power. Lit­tle won­der then, that over a decade on, we’re still see­ing freshly-built Mk6 STs with over dou­ble their orig­i­nal power out­put un­der the bon­net.

For 25-year-old Nathan Birch, it hap­pened to be his dad’s car that gave him the in­spi­ra­tion to use a Mk6 ST as a project base. “I’d had a Polo TDi for my first car, then moved on to a 1.2 Corsa SXi which I be­gan to mod­ify – as you do when you’re 17,” Nathan re­mem­bers, “around that time my dad bought an im­mac­u­late one-owner-from-new Frozen White Fi­esta ST and I fell in love with that car straight away.”

Nathan knew full well at the time there was no way he could af­ford to in­sure even a stan­dard Fi­esta ST, but two ag­o­niz­ingly-long years later, he found the costs to just about be re­al­is­tic. “My dad had de­cided to move on to an­other car, I knew I had to buy his

Fi­esta now,” Nathan re­calls, “it was a now-orn­ever op­por­tu­nity.”

As you’d ex­pect, the ST didn’t re­main stan­dard for long and the mods soon be­gan. “I couldn’t help my­self,” he laughs, “within a cou­ple of months I’d fit­ted AP coilovers, 20mm rear hub spac­ers and a rear anti-roll bar, which made the car han­dle like it was on rails.” Nathan then moved on to the per­for­mance side of things, with a Mill­tek ex­haust, K&N fil­ter and 60mm throt­tle body all added, “it helped the en­gine breathe a lit­tle bet­ter and there was now an ad­dic­tive bur­ble from the ex­haust along with a few pops and bangs.”

Noth­ing un­usual so far you may think, just a scat­ter­ing of well se­lected mods to en­hance the per­for­mance of an al­ready nim­ble ST… but that was soon to change. “I had a ride out in a mate’s tur­bocharged Fi­esta,” Nathan re­mem­bers, “I was in­stantly im­pressed and knew straight away which di­rec­tion to take my own car.”

In the short term, the change to forced in­duc­tion had to wait, Nathan elect­ing to en­hance the sub­tle ST’s exterior ini­tially. At first glance, there doesn’t ap­pear to be any dramatic changes to the body it­self other than the TRC front split­ter and bon­net lip. Look closer, though, and you’ll soon spot the smoothed quick-re­lease front bumper and smooth rear bumper. That’s in ad­di­tion to the gloss black trim, win­dow tints, halo head­lights and wind de­flec­tors which all help to make this Fi­esta stand out from your av­er­age ST.

By now Nathan had full in­ten­tions of dou­bling the car’s orig­i­nal power out­put, so in con­trast to many project’s out there he de­cided sen­si­bly to up­grade the brakes in readi­ness. At the front there’s now ST170 300mm brakes and at the rear 280mm discs and calipers from the same donor car. These not only im­prove the stop­ping power, but also look pretty cool be­tween the spokes of those hard as nails 7.0x16in Team Dy­nam­ics Pro Race 1.2 rims in con­trast­ing bright red.

Now that the chas­sis and brakes were ca­pa­ble of han­dling plenty more bhp, Nathan be­gan to make a start on his lon­gan­tic­i­pated turbo con­ver­sion. The re­built 2.0-litre Du­ratec now ben­e­fits from forged rods and pis­tons, New­man cams, ARP bolts, up­rated bear­ings and high pres­sure oil pump. That’s in ad­di­tion to the up­rated head gas­ket, 660cc in­jec­tors and 19 row oil cooler – aided by the clever cool­ing duct lo­cated in the front bumper. In fact, ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble has been up­graded in some way, even down to the Cosworth in­let man­i­fold, per­for­mance sil­i­cone hose kit, re­lo­cated power steer­ing and that un­usual, but cool, side-exit ex­haust!

Help­ing to keep the en­gine tem­per­a­ture happy there’s now an Airtec al­loy ra­di­a­tor and in­ter­cooler in place, which also helps en­hance that al­ready ag­gres­sive front end. These ad­di­tions all looked good and help give the en­gine bay plenty of sparkle as well as per­for­mance ku­dos, but the main in­gre­di­ent is neatly tucked away, hid­den at the back of the en­gine; the TD05 hy­brid tur­bocharger.

Fit­ting it was far from plain sail­ing though, and cer­tainly not just a case of bolt­ing parts on to a re­built en­gine and turn­ing the key. “Af­ter ini­tially hav­ing the en­gine re­built with the turbo, the car kept stalling,” Nathan re­calls, “af­ter seek­ing ad­vice from a cou­ple of spe­cial­ists, they couldn’t find the cause.” A switch to a GEMS stand­alone ECU was sug­gested, but the prob­lem still per­sisted. “I de­cided to go through ev­ery­thing in

“The turbo has to be my favourite mod, the sound it makes is un­be­liev­able – it sounds like a jet fighter tak­ing off...”

“Nathan’s in­ten­tions were to build a car for track use that would look equally at home at a show, and we reckon he’s achieved his goal and then some”

the car and be­gan swap­ping parts one by one with my Fi­esta ST track car which I knew ran okay,” Nathan ex­plains, “af­ter months of head scratch­ing it turned out to be a faulty throt­tle body caus­ing the stalling is­sues, “I was over the moon I’d found out what it was and or­dered a new 60mm throt­tle body and booked the car in for map­ping with Darren at DWR Per­for­mance,” Nathan smiles. The re­sult speaks for it­self, with an im­pres­sive 332.9bhp at 7070 rpm on the rollers – and that’s with only 0.9-bar of boost!

Swap­ping the orig­i­nal gear­box for a stronger MTX75 ‘box along with an LSD at the same time also seemed like a sen­si­ble ap­proach. Un­for­tu­nately, prob­lems arose once again. This time the slave cylin­der gave up the ghost af­ter just 200 miles. “It hap­pened loads of times too, not just once,” Nathan adds, “I was close to giv­ing up on the whole idea and strip­ping the car for parts, but I’m glad I didn’t!” In the end, Nathan de­cided to find the root of the cause one night and took the car to his mate’s garage. “We could re­move and re­fit the gear­box with our eyes closed by now, but this time stripped it to­tally down and spaced the slave out from the gear­box as it ap­peared to be over stroking.” Ac­cord­ing to Nathan, this is quite an un­com­mon prob­lem and af­ter re­main­ing in the garage through­out that night en­sur­ing all the in­ter­nals re­mained as they should, the prob­lem seems to have dis­ap­peared. Phew!

That just left the in­te­rior to sort and af­ter pour­ing many hours and wages into the rest of the car, he wasn’t go­ing to start cut­ting cor­ners here. The full 6-point OMP roll cage dom­i­nates as you’d ex­pect, and the Sparco Pro-2000 bucket seats with 4-point har­nesses are in keep­ing with the func­tional theme. “I knew I’d have my work cut out when it came to the in­te­rior as I’d never used a welder be­fore,” Nathan laughs, “luck­ily Carl at Raven Blast­ing Clean­ing was on hand for a spot of teach­ing and point­ing me in the right di­rec­tion.” The quick-re­lease 300mm OMP steer­ing wheel looks right at home too and Nathan’s also flocked the dash, added gauges and his own door pan­els and cen­tre con­sole is cus­tom-made.

All el­e­ments of re­fine­ment have dis­ap­peared, even down to the lack of stereo, heaters, and air-con. This ST is all about sav­ing weight and go­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble af­ter all.

In­cred­i­bly, other than the en­gine re­build, wiring, and the help we’ve al­ready touched on with the weld­ing and gear­box is­sue, ev­ery­thing you see has been car­ried out by Nathan him­self. And when you fac­tor it all in, that’s a huge amount of work, es­pe­cially jug­gling build­ing this project around a full­time job. “The first time I took my mate out in the car just af­ter it went back on the road his words were ‘you have built a beast!’ and that was just at 300bhp be­fore I’d fit­ted the stand­alone ECU,” Nathan laughs, “the turbo it­self has to be my favourite mod, the sound it makes is un­be­liev­able – it’s like a jet fighter tak­ing off, and you get that same feel­ing of be­ing pinned back in the seat as it kicks in.”

De­spite ev­ery as­pect of this build hav­ing been cov­ered once – and in some cases more – Nathan’s still keen to make a few changes. A full Pow­er­flex black se­ries poly­bush kit and a swap to BC Rac­ing or Meis­ter R sus­pen­sion is likely in the near fu­ture which should help add some cam­ber at the front.

There may have been a few set­backs along the way, but Nathan shows no signs of slow­ing down and would love to take on a sim­i­lar build based on a wide arch Mk1 Es­cort with Cosworth power next. A big chal­lenge, but lis­ten­ing to his en­thu­si­asm we wouldn’t be sur­prised if it hap­pens soon.

As for the ST, Nathan’s in­ten­tions were to build a car for track use that would look equally at home at a show, ef­fec­tively the per­fect all-rounder, and we reckon he’s achieved his goal and then some.

TD05 turbo is at the heart of this ST’s in­cred­i­ble power fig­ure

Nathan’s up­graded the sus­pen­sion too, but even more chas­sis tweaks could be on the cards soon

With a full OMP cage and Sparco buck­ets, this is one track-ready Fi­esta The gear­box has been re­placed with a stronger MTX75 to han­dle the power

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