FI­ESTA MK1 1700

Clas­sic looks and hot Cross­flow power.

Classic Ford - - CONTENTS - Words and Pho­tos Dan Sher­wood

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?

Early start

“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.”

Worth it

“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.


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.

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