As much as we all hate to admit it, our choice of motor is ruled by how much cash we’ve got to spend. Sure, we’d all love a 500bhp, 4WD monster sitting outside our gaff, but in the real world we all look for the best value car that gives the most smiles per pound. Luckily for us, Ford’s Fiesta has been the perfect solution to this question for over 30 years now.
Back in 1976 when the Mk.1 Fiesta was launched, Ford’s recipe for success was simple. The universally appealing, lower-powered models would be headed up by a range-topping yet easily attainable tarmac terrorist, which kicked off with the legendary XR2. However, even if your wallet couldn’t stretch to the mighty 84bhp XR2 you could take some styling tips and slap a set of Pepperpot alloys on your Popular Plus.
This theory has held true throughout the seven generations of Fiesta, and while the XR2 made way for the RS Turbo, Zetec S and now the ST models, Ford’s baby hatch still offers the ideal way to get into modding on a minimal budget.
There are classic Fiesta rims and then there’s just about every other rimmage in the known universe – and they all seem to suit the compact Ford a treat! Keeping within the Ford circle, masterful wheels such as the Escort Cossie five-spoker will look tough as you like on anything from a Mk.3 to a present day Mk.7. However, such is the Fiesta’s universal appeal just about any style of hoop will look tight under the arches as long as it fits in with your chosen theme. Just remember that size isn’t everything on a Fiesta – it’s the stance that counts.
Over the years Ford have gradually dumped their cheap ‘n’ cheerful image, and this really shows when it comes to their interiors. You could grab a screwdriver and a ratchet and have an early model Fiesta’s innards stripped in about three minutes fl at, but when the Mk.4 arrived in ’95, the quality really took a step forward. However, Fiestas are still a piece of piss to work on, even for the most inexperienced modder, so don’t be afraid to get hold of some ST half leather seats and fit them in your Zetec yourself.
If you’re new to the roads then there are plenty of insurance friendly engines to choose from over the various Fiesta ranges, with the pick of the bunch being the 1.25-litre 16v Zetec lump. It spins real sweetly, is gentle on the juice but still gives a little kick. Hell, you can even go full on diesel and save nuff pennies at the pumps. If speed is your thang then you’ve got to look to an old skool RS Turbo lump for the earlier models or a tuned 2.0-litre Duratec powerplant in the later cars. Either way you’ll have some serious fun!
Your next door neighbour’s great aunt Maude’s sister probably scuttles about in a Fiesta, so it pays to have yours standing out from the norm. Luckily, that can be both easy and cheap to sort. Again, taking parts from the sportier models is an effective and traditional way to beef up a basic ride, while a spot of smoothing and trick detailing never goes amiss. Because the Fiesta has been around almost as long as Midge himself, you could even look towards some retro-style mods. What about trying some Mk.1 Supersport decals on a Mk.6 ST? You get the idea…
FIRST PROJECT – MK4 FIESTA 1.25 ZETEC
Engine: 1242cc – 73 bhp
Max speed: 106 mph
0-60mph: 11.9 secs
Insurance group: 5
Price range: £300-£1500
PERFECT PROJECT – MK5 FIESTA ZETEC S
Engine: 1596cc – 102 bhp
Max speed: 113 mph
0-60mph: 9.9 secs
Insurance group: 8
Price range: £1500-£3500
ULTIMATE PROJECT – MK6 FIESTA ST
Engine: 1999cc – 147 bhp
Max speed: 129 mph
0-60mph: 7.9 secs
Insurance group: 13
Price range: £4500-£9500
The humble Fiesta has to be one of the daddies of the modding scene simply because there’s one out there for everyone. If you want a 500-quid runabout you’ll find one and if you want a 12-grand monster, they’re out there too. Infinitely modable, cool as you like and proper respectable on the street, we reckon they’ll be around forever.