Ford Zetec E Tuning Guide
The name Zetec is pretty confusing because it’s now used by Ford as a badge on the back to describe a level of trim. On top of this, there’s a smaller capacity Zetec - described elsewhere - plus, late Zetecs were made to look like the latest Duratecs.
Early, ‘Silver Top’ engines (with an aluminium cam cover) were fitted to Escorts from 1991 onwards, late Fiesta Mk3s and then the Mondeo. These early units were known as Zeta (only becoming Zetec in 1993). The unit evolved into the Black Top unit (with a plastic cam cover) with the Escort phased out and Focus introduction. These later engines have longer rods and lower piston crowns, mechanical rather than hydraulic lifters plus the distinctive black cam cover.
Initially there were 90, 105 and 115bhp 1800cc Escort versions, with 115 and 130bhp 2 litre Mondeo units too. There were also 130bhp RS1800 Fiesta/XR3i variations with revised cams and re-mapped ECU’s. The hottest n/a version was the ST170 with solid lifters, steel rods, waisted valves and variable valve timing (VVT). The motor went on to power the Focus RS but in turbocharged form. Both the ST and RS engines were confusingly re-badged as a Duratec.
As far as tuning goes, it’s simple to bring an 1800 up to RS1800 spec with Ford cams or Kent FZ1802 cams - you would need a 130bhp ECU though, or aftermarket re-mapping. A power boost valve will help eliminate the flat spot between 3,300-3,500rpm.
You can actually use the standard injection combined with a new Weber Alpha kit that works with the OE inlet manifold. Fitments are for the silver top 1800s, and both silver and black top 2.0 engines. Power achieved is, approx 150bhp for a 1.8 130PS and 160bhp for the 2.0. However, these are really the limit of the standard induction and further increases are not possible, unlike their other kits. It has to be said that although these kits have been developed for the kit car market, we do not see any reason why they can’t be fitted to a FWD Zetec engined car. Webcon cannot confirm fitment but like us believe it should work. If you want to go beyond the range of the standard induction though, we can supply a Weber Alpha kit, which replaces the system altogether and is incredibly comprehensive - all is there for you to bolt it straight on, including manifold, linkage, even air filters. On an 1800 130PS engine, you should see 155bhp and 165bhp on a 2 litre.
Either of these two systems will provide enough fuelling for plenty of future modifications. Fit one of our stage 1 heads plus a pair of Kent FZ2002 cams and you should see power around 185bhp. If you want to go beyond this ‘Fast Road’ stage then you’ll need our Stage 2 heads which feature larger inlet valves.
The Kent FZ2003 cams will give you between 200-240bhp depending on stage of head, coupled with 48mm throttle bodies. However, at this stage, you’ll need larger followers machined and installed, otherwise the cam lobe won’t be completely ‘seen’ by the follower. We’d also recommend a capacity increase to 2.1 litres, with an 86mm bore plus our Accralite pistons. The standard crank is very strong but around these levels we’d encourage the switch to steel along with our Farndon H-section rods.
The Zetec E is also a popular swap into a classic Ford usually requiring turning round to rear wheel drive format. We can supply all the parts you need to do this including the water rail manifold, which re-locates the thermostat housing, thus providing bulkhead clearance. In addition, we have access to engine mounts for Mk1 and 2 Escorts, correct orientation sumps, exhausts and everything you need to give your classic, modern 16 valve power.