Hot Car - Technical: Fiesta Tuning Potential
"Ford Fiesta. Discover the tuning potential behind Ford's top seller."
September 1982
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Technical: Fiesta Tuning Potential

Thank you to Frank Dauber (aka fiestaseriex) for supplying this article.

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.....probably recall has a 1.6 unit fitted, completes the line up. 'S' versions were nothing more than a basic Fiesta, but with the addition of full length single stripes incorporating 'S' decals, although a tach, slightly firmer suspension and revised interior trim were also part of the deal. The real sporty package though came about with the introduction of the Supersport and although mechanically speaking it was just like any other 1300s, externally it was a different ball game. Front and rear spoilers were incorporated with matching black wheel flares. Twin driving lights, RS wheels (6" x 13") and low profile tyres also came as standard equipment. Helping to distinguish this model further was the inclusion of a contrasting coloured stripe design along the bottom half of the door which I am told was designed to give the illusion that the arches had been flared.

The extra punch that the Supersport lacked came about with the introduction of the XR2 and although the performance isn't exactly staggering, it does bring out the best in the car. You could be mistaken in thinking that the XR2 is simply a Supersport with a bigger engine, for this is exactly what it isn't. The only similarity you can draw between the two, is the body shape, as just about everything else has been changed.

The major change is that 1.6 engine block, which was put together initially for the American market being the only version available. (Incidentally the Fiesta is no longer available out there perhaps because it was competing with the Escort/Lynx). The 1.6 unit being prefered over a smaller unit as this was the only one that would give reasonable performance with all the smog gear installed. Even so the power output was down to around 66bhp. One of the most frequently asked questions that we get concerning Fiesta's is the suitability of fitting a non-federal crossflow 1.6 unit under the bonnet, of the type generally available in a number of Ford vehicles. This isn't possible without a fair amount of work for the following reasons; firstly the federal block is shorter than the European crossflow, it has a shorter crank, different front cover and sump and has provision for a front engine mount, whereas the other hasn't. Obviously if you have the technical knowledge, then anything is possible; take for instance the BDA engined Fiesta's used in rallycross to get an idea of the ultimate power plants that can be shoehorned in. All I'm saying here is that it isn't simply an engine-out and engine-in job that you could do in a afternoon. Having said that, we would be only too pleased to hear of anyone who has done a successful 1.6 crossflow swop on a Fiesta using the non-federal block and am sure would be of considerable interest to everyone considering such a move, as it represents a considerable saving over the rather expensive federal unit which you can order from your RS agent.

Quick to realise the tuning potential of the Fiesta when first introduced, Ford Rallye Sport wasted very little time in developing components and compiling a catalogue of special parts they could offer to make the Fiesta a more nimble performer. Also the Fiesta Challenge series which you can see at selected motor race meetings has helped further development of suspension and other handling components. Much of the experience gained here was incorporated in the XR2, which is why this particular model bandies so well. Bilstein dampers/struts are incorporated, different springs too, also the engine is lowered and a compromise between the heavy duty front crossmember and the stock set up is used. Electronic ignition is standard as is the four-into-two cast manifold.


The 1100cc Fiesta has, in my opinion, been very much underated over the years. This particular engine thrives on high revs and will willingly reach 6000rpm without problem although power peaks at 5700rpm. We have tried a couple of tuned versions of this over the years, the first of which had a single Weber carb conversion along with a four branch manifold, The results of which provided superb acceleration that would put certain 1600cc cars to shame. If you are looking for extra poke at minimal cost then without doubt this is the kit to go for {available from R.S.}. Another 1100cc we tried was, Piper's fuel injected version, which at the time was running on open ram pipes. Besides making all the right noises this too accelerated like crazy. The system itself was originally designed for use on motor bikes, such as the 750 Honda four, but has been adapted for automotive use, and appears to be quite successful.

Moving up to the 1300 Kent unit.....

Captions -

Top-Right - This twin Weber kit, is designed for the 1300 model and gives around Wbhp extra over the standard set up. Big air box ensures quiet running
Bottom-Left - Heavy duty suspension kit provides fantastic handling and fits 1300/1600 models. Included is crossmember support, tie bars and roll bar


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