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Ford Fiesta Mk1 & Mk2 Tuning Guide

The Fiesta was Ford’s first front-wheel drive, transverse engine, car. It was also the smallest production Ford since the 100E of the 1950s and it very quickly became Europe’s fastest selling car with half a million made in the first year of production and three million by the time it had it’s first face lift in 1983. The Mk1 was the first to bare the XR badging in the shape of the 100mph XR2 - a highly desired car these days. In 1983 it was face-lifted and the CVH engine and diesel engine introduced into the range along with a five-speed gearbox in order to get all important fuel economy in a world where petrol was fast approaching £1 a gallon.

Initially the Fiesta was fitted with a variant of Fords long standing Kent engine, though it was shorter than the rear-drive unit to fit between the Fiesta’s chassis rails. Initially it was available in 997cc and 1117cc, then 1298cc in the Sport model and 1599cc in the XR2. A 1300 model was added to the range with the Mk2 as was the CVH in both 1400 and 1600cc capacities. The 1300cc and 1600cc engines in the Mk1 are worth tuning and really make for a great fun car. The 1600CVH in the Mk2 is also a very tunable unit. Full details of what can be extracted from these engines can be found in our Engine Tuning guide. The Zetec is a popular retro-fit unit for the Fiesta, as is the CVH Turbo from an RS Turbo. The RS Turbo unit itself is a lot easier to fit and as you will see from our engine tuning guide, an easy way to get a lot of power. The Zetec engine is slightly trickier but being 16v is a good way of getting a lot of naturally-aspirated power into your Fiesta. Gearbox choice will obviously depend upon what engine you decide to fit, but a popular choice is the five-speed Type-BC gearbox for which we can also supply a straight-cut gearset for serious power cars and also a quick-shift kit to significantly improve gear change. Being a front-wheel drive car, if you’re putting a lot of power through the gearbox, a limited slip differential is a wise choice to help get the power to the floor.

The Fiesta can really be a pocket rocket with the right modifications. A simple set of lowering springs will be an instant improvement and these can be combined with some uprated dampers. Add some uprated suspension bushes and your Fiesta will be a huge amount of fun to drive. If you’re serious about handling and fancy taking to the track, it’s worth taking a look at a fully adjustable coilover suspension kit. This will give you complete adjustability and you will have a great handling fast road/track car.

A car will only go as quickly as you can stop it and as such the brakes are one of the most important modifications that you could make; especially if you have tuned your engine for more power. We list a range of direct replacement discs and pads which, when combined with braided hoses, will improve the feel of the middle pedal no-end. For serious brake performance we stock a wide range of big brake conversion kits too. For track applications or just to give you more control over how much your front or rear brakes are doing we also stock a bolt on replacement for your servo which effectively converts your system to a bias pedal box.

The Fiesta really can be quite easily turned into a pocket rocket and be as much fun as you could wish for on road or on track.