FIESTA MK1 1700
Classic looks and hot Crossflow power.
What’s in a name? Not much when it comes to most people — it’s just a way of identifying ourselves from everyone else on the planet. But there are a select group for whom their given names seem to do so much more, and what’s printed on their birth certificates can go on to influence their very destiny. Take the world’s fastest man for example. Is it really a coincidence that he’s named Usain Bolt? Or how about the former Soviet hurdler, Marina Stepanover?
So when you hear of someone called Tom Ford, that just so happens to have a Blue Oval-mad Dad… well, you wouldn’t expect him to be a Vauxhall fan, would you?
“I guess got into Fords through my Dad, who used to own a 1954 sit-up-and-beg Pop,” remembers 19-year-old apprentice electrician, Tom. “I must’ve been about 11 at the time and my Dad and I used to work on it together on the drive, and take it to the Classic Ford Show at Santa Pod.”
Being immersed in Blue Oval culture soon had an effect on young Tom, and this was only further fuelled when he began leafing through his Dad’s copies of Classic Ford. “I really took a shine to early model Fiestas,” Tom says with a smile. “They’re such a cool shape and are very easy to work on and modify. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to get one of my own.”
To most of us, that would mean waiting until our 17th birthday and a possibly even until we had secured our own driver’s licence. But not Tom…
“I bought my first car, a blue Mk2 Fiesta 1.1, when I was 13,” Tom tells us, “With money that I had saved from my Grandparents. It was in good condition and was planned to be a project that my Dad and I could work on together.”
However, this first project never really got off the ground. “My Dad had always wanted a Series 2 Escort RS Turbo, and when I was 14 he decided he was going to buy one,” Tom says. “So we found a project, bought it and restored it back to perfect original factory condition.”
Seeing his Dad achieve his dream car was enough for Tom to question the direction of his own project.
“The Mk2 was OK, but it wasn’t a Mk1,” he laughs. Now this is where things get complicated…
With the Mk2 sold, Tom bought a silver 957cc Mk1 Fiesta that had been built into Supersport replica. “It was a great looking car, but the engine was the weak link,” he says. “Which led me to buying yet another Mk1 with plans to transplant its more powerful engine and associated running gear into the Supersport rep.”
The car in question was a black 1.1 which had been treated to a full XR2 conversion. However, not content with simply swapping the innards of one car into the other, Tom began looking into
options to increase the displacement of the XR2’s 1600 Crossflow and build it into the 1700 engine that he had always wanted.
“After some research, it was clear that the engine work was going to be way out of my budget,” Tom remembers. “So I put the engine on hold while I focussed my attention on sorting out the silver Supersport’s shell.”
But after sinking around £3000 into getting the Supersport’s shell resprayed, and even dropping a further £2000 on an already-built 1700cc Crossflow plus a suitable transmission, Tom became seriously ill and the car had to be sold. He’d contracted a potentially deadly case of bacterial meningitis, which ended up with him in a coma and in intensive care for three months. “The illness knocked me for six,” Tom states, “but luckily the doctors caught it in time.”
Now or never
Coming off the back of a potentially lifechanging illness can make a person re-evaluate their life and Tom finally decided it was do-or-die for his dream of owning a stunning show-quality Fiesta. “I still had the 1700 engine and transmission, I just didn’t have a car to put it in,” he says. “And after my search for a suitable shell seemed to be going nowhere, I remembered the car that the engine had come out of…”
The car in question was an immaculate 1982 Mk1 that had been treated to a fresh respray in Ford Frozen White.
“It was crazy to think that I’d be buying the very car that the engine came out of, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense,” Tom says, “as it also came with a host of other modifications that I was planning on doing, too.”
These included a pair of GAZ coil-overs, XR2 front callipers with drilled and grooved front discs, full front to rear braided hoses, a custom made bias pedal box with Wilwood master cylinders and proportioning valve and an awesome set of Diamond-cut snowflakes with A539 tyres.
“I bought the shell in January and immediately set about building it back up, only this time I wouldn’t stop until it was perfect,” he says.
The build began with Tom sending the Crossflow’s cylinder head off to RN Developments in Windsor to be fully refurbished and ported with bigger inlet and exhaust valves and new guides. When it returned it was reassembled with the repainted block by way of a Cometic head gasket and the carbs from a CBR600 motorbike refitted.
“While the head was away, my Dad and I got cracking on sorting the shell,” Tom remembers. “We completely stripped the interior and prepped and painted the floor in matching Frozen White. After that we moved on to the outside, where we got the shell jacked up on our two-post ramp and stripped and resprayed the underside, too.”
Tom and his Dad then began the process of rebuilding the car, ensuring every item that was put back on was either refreshed or brand new. The engine back in and running, it was time for
the Ford duo to work their magic on the car’s rejuvenated innards.
“I’d bought a pair of RS2000 fishnet seats that I sent off to vehicle upholstery specialists, Brockwells in Kings Lynn to be retrimmed along with the rear bench seat and door cards,” says Tom. “They did an excellent job and, trimmed in period correct Betacloth, they look fantastic!”
Tom had to fabricate a set of custom subframes to get them to fit, but when combined with the custom-dyed black carpet, the Supersport centre console and gear gaiter, it’s a really strong look. “My Dad sourced the new dashboard,” Tom remembers. “It was a rare find in that it was in excellent original condition with none of the trademark warping and cracking that is so common on these cars.”
“It’s been a long hard road, and I’d been extremely close to packing it all in many times along the way, but the car is finally finished now and I’ve managed to get the Mk1 Fiesta that I’d always wanted,” Tom says with a grin.
With a set of twin 40s on the cards in the coming months, it looks like Ford is more than just Tom’s last name, it’s a brand that runs right through his DNA.
“I’D BEEN CLOSE TO PACKING IT IN ON MANY OCCASIONS BUT I’VE MANAGED TO BUILD THE FIESTA I’VE ALWAYS WANTED”
After recovering from a life-threatening illness, Tom decided it was time to build the Mk1 he always wanted. Tom and his Dad painted the underside Frozen White to match. Snowflake rims are a neat touch. New-old stock dashboard was a lucky find. Interior now looks stunning. Tom’s gone for the simple but effective look for his Mk1, and it’s all the better for it.
Fishnet Recaros are retrimmed in Betacloth and they look superb.
The 1700 Crossflow drinks fuel through a set of CBR600 bike carbs mounted on a DanST manifold.