The very embodiment of the built-not-bought ethos, this über custom modified Fiesta is taking the scene screaming back to the turn of the century…
Well, this is refreshing. Something genuinely new and exciting. Yes, the modifying scene is as vibrant and diverse today as it’s ever been, but you can’t deny that the ubiquity of social media and the desperation for harvesting likes has meant that anyone with the cash to pay for fancy wheels and air-ride can call their motor a show car. Call us old fashioned, but there are certain elements of the ’90s/’00s tuning scene that we really miss; not the Lexus lights or the Delta bumpers, obviously, but the spirit of madness. Back then, people built insanely off-the-wall cars just for the bloody-minded hell of it.
And it’s that old-school modding spirit you see shining brightly from this astonishing Fiesta. Owner Danny Hetherington, along with buddy Ashley Kenny (hereafter referred to as Kenny), have spent six years hand-crafting this rakish little Dagenham poppet into the most extensively modified Fiesta we’ve seen since, ooh, 1997 or thereabouts. Every single element of the car has been customised with outside-the box ideas, and we can’t even begin to tell you how excited we are about that.
“Our motto throughout the build was ‘buy cool shit first, worry about how to make it fit later’,” says Danny, and we’re totally down with that. So let’s see where all of this
mischievous innovation came from…
For Danny, the main catalyst was a Mk5 Fiesta he had years ago, which had flip paint and a white leather interior; a show car, but by no means in the same league as this one. He ended up meeting Kenny through this build; Kenny’s first car, eleven years ago, was a Corsa B that he built up with a Combat 2 wide-arch kit, red-top conversion, custom dash, bespoke interior – this was deep in the fibreglass era, when builds were strictly polarised between outrageous trailblazers and low-budget wannabes. Suffice it to say that Kenny’s was the former.
Now, as you’ll have spotted if you’ve skimmed ahead to the spec list, there’s been a phenomenal amount of work poured into this Fiesta. Mind-boggling amounts. The first question that non-car people might ask is ‘If you’re going to all this effort, why start with a Fiesta?’ but that entirely misses the point, of course. Builds grow organically. And, in fact, it all stemmed from Danny’s old Fiesta, the one we mentioned earlier. “We’d started work on my Mk5, which had been vandalised and I wanted to get some bodywork done to it before getting it resprayed,” he explains. “Kenny had just moved into the workshop and was doing a few bits for mates’ cars, so it made sense to take the Fiesta to him. It went in for just a few small bits of smoothing – front bumper, washer jets, aerial and door locks… but it all went wrong one day when I let Kenny know I was bringing a surprise up the workshop the next day – a Mk1 Audi TT dashboard! The width fitted pretty well, we only had to take 10mm off each side and about 100mm off the depth and it became the basis for the custom dash. And at that point we realized we had to get a standard shell for the build and start again.”
With the pace of the build rapidly escalating, a custom hydraulic setup and a set of OZ Turbo wheels ushered in the decision to craft some custom wide arches. Before the guys knew it they were throwing around ideas about a bench seat conversion – a proper outside-the-box idea that saw them snapping up the interior from a column-shift Mk1 Cortina on eBay, which just happened to be the perfect width! And while the interior was being sized up with the tape measure, there was oodles of cutting, notching and welding going on to make sure the car would sit as low as possible. This is the thing about bringing creative minds together; there are so many ideas flying around, everything starts to happen at once.
The guys had realised by this time that what they were embarking upon was no ordinary build, so they made a pact to ensure that no corners were cut, that every element of the car would be the best that it could be. They called in a mate to help out with the Hertz audio build, pulled a bunch of all-nighters and weekenders, and Danny and Kenny were inspired anew. “The engine bay,” Danny grins. “That’s the thing that really kicked into life – we knew the bay was letting it down, so Kenny – being an expert electrical engineer, and thus skilled enough to take on the complete wire-tucking – spent many, many hours shaving and smoothing it. Meanwhile, I was finishing up the install and sorting the custom interior.”
At this point, it seems, the boys just went crazy. “The servo and ABS were removed, the battery relocated under the front seat, and Kawasaki ZZR600 bike carbs fitted,” Danny continues. “Custom header and PAS tanks were ordered to complete the look, although the problem with doing all this was that unique solutions were required for everything – custom PAS lines, custom coolant setup, custom throttle cable, custom clutch feed, hydraulic pedal box setup. I was adamant that I didn’t want the Puma plastic engine cover, so I polished up the standard one and drew up the CAD drawing for a custom stainless plug cover. Everything was refinished or replaced with new parts, and the subframe was chrome powder-coated for that additional touch.”
The interior treatment was similarly fastidious: those Cortina seats fed into the hot rod vibe they’d wanted all along, and so all manner of parts ended up being sourced from the USA – while Danny got busy with the CAD work again, drawing up speaker grilles and so on. “We still hadn’t decided on a colour for the car,” says Danny. “All we knew was we wanted something ‘bronzy’ that would go with the red leather interior we’d decided on… Kenny did a lot of driving for work and ended up noting down many different colours he saw out on the road, and eventually he saw a Range Rover in Kaikoura Stone Pearl. I wasn’t so sure at first, but I couldn’t make my mind up so we rolled with it!”
It turned out to be an inspired choice, and having the hue pinned spurred them on to carry out weeks upon weeks of prepping, rubbing down and perfecting; the engine bay was painted in Land Rover Firenze Red by Will Smith (no, not that one), and by the end of it all even the engine block and gearbox were painted in Kaikoura Stone Pearl. It’s all about the details; every single nut and bolt was renewed or cleaned and polished, even if they’d never be seen. “Once that was done, we finished rubbing down the primer on the exterior of the car and sent it off to Ollie at Motion Factory Finishes to lay down the final paint,” says Danny. “Kenny’s colour choice looked amazing! But when we got the car back there was only three months until Modified Nationals, which was our deadline, and there was still bundles to do. We’d decided we would need a control box of some sort which would have all the missing buttons from the dashboard on it, such as indicators, window switches, boot and fuel pops. This required a mammoth amount of custom wiring, and creating a completely new interior loom. And Kenny also integrated a Bluetooth module into the car which allowed me to design and build a mobile app that controls the hydraulics, and also pop the doors and everything else. We loved the copper bars in the install so much we wanted to feature some copper outside the car too, so the custom round bar grilles Kenny had made were copper plated, as were the OZ Turbos.”
It’s amazing to hear him reeling this all off, it’s an endless conveyor belt of fresh new ideas that have all been beautifully executed. The fact that the lads had set themselves the Mod Nats deadline meant that the final few weeks were a cavalcade of activity – the custom electrics, alarm, full sound deadening, metal polishing everything possible, plumbing in all the brake lines to the pedal box, as well as carefully fitting up the exterior. All of this was done over evenings and weekends around the day jobs, and the car ended up being finished just hours before the show.
So after all that blood, sweat and tears, was the final push worth the payoff? Hell yeah, it was. “No-one ever thought the car would be finished,” Danny laughs, “and people were always a bit dubious about how the final product would turn out. But we had faith in the car, and the moment we rolled it out the workshop for the first time, and decked out the hydros, we felt the hard work had paid off as the car looked awesome. At the show, it seemed to get a lot of attention – and then went on to pick up five trophies, including Best in Show… for some reason people seemed to think the car was a ‘chequebook build’, which we can guarantee it definitely wasn’t!”
In fact, this Fiesta epitomises the very essence of ‘built, not bought’. Furthermore, it rekindles a flame of creativity that many worried was lost from the modding scene. With innovators like Danny and Kenny pushing us all forward, we can revive that ’90s spirit. This, folks, is how it’s done.
TECH SPEC: MK5 FORD FIESTA
Range Rover Kaikoura Stone Pearl paint; custom wide arches; smoothed sideskirts, front and rear bumpers; custom copper round-bar front upper and lower grilles; fully shaved doors; front indicator delete (replaced with flush LEDs); smoothed tailgate, aerial and washer jets, mirror baseplates; bad boy bonnet; filler cap smoothed; hidden door pop buttons; LED headlight conversion; custom fuel filler popper; neons; smoked headlights; red tinted rear lights.
1.7-litre Puma engine; Kawasaki ZZR600 bike carbs with 30mm custom alloy trumpets; Malpassi fuel regulator; stainless braided fuel lines with AN fittings; stainless 4-2-1 manifold; EMP Performance exhaust system; DriveTorque Stage 1 clutch; brake servo delete; hydraulic pedal box with copper brake lines; modified JS Performance silicone hoses; shaved alternator; custom power steering lines, throttle cable setup and injector blanking plate; Land Rover Firenze Red Pearl engine bay; smoothed and wire-tucked bay; slam panel cover trimmed in Autolux St. James Red smooth-grain leather; engine block and gearbox sprayed in Kaikoura Stone Pearl; gearbox mount and water pump pulley sprayed in Firenze Red Pearl; various mounts and ancillaries powder-coated gloss black; polished rocker cover, alternator and engine mounts; bespoke aluminium header tank and power steering tank; custom hoses; custom engine loom, custom aluminium reservoir covers.
8.5x15in (front) and 9.5x15in (rear) copper-plated OZ Turbo 2-piece split-rims with Radinox dishes and custom-length chrome spike bolt hardware, custommilled flat OZ Turbo centre caps; 185/45 (f) and 195/45 (r) Nankang Ultrasport NS-2 tyres; hydraulic suspension; app/Bluetooth-connected hydraulics and door, boot and fuel filler poppers; MK2 Mondeo V6 calliper conversion, 280mm dimpled and grooved discs; Wezmoto braided brake lines; extensive chassis shaving and notching; chassis floor dropped to allow battery relocation; Powerflex bushes; chrome powder-coated subframe, powder-coated anti-roll bar, custom extended drop-links.
Mk1 Cortina front and rear bench seats; all panels trimmed in Autolux St. James Red smooth-grain leather; headlining and custom A, B and C pillars trimmed in Alcantara; electric handbrake conversion; custom TT dashboard and centre console; bespoke polished steel steering column; billet aluminium steering wheel; bespoke aluminium tweeter grilles; SoCal Bullet switches; AutoMeter American Muscle gauges (speedometer and tachometer); bespoke billet gear gaiter surround; extended gear shifter with chrome pistol-grip gearknob; custom doorcards; Lokar billet interior door pulls; bespoke speaker grilles and wing plates; custom sill panels; custom rear quarter panels; custom boot audio install with bespoke billet subwoofer ring; hydraulics spring box and switch box powder-coated and sprayed in Kaikoura Stone Pearl; professional sound deadening throughout; lap-belt conversion; control box for all car functions sprayed in Kaikoura Stone Pearl; Clifford G5 Concept 470 alarm; custom interior wiring loom; RetroSound Model 2 headunit; Hertz HX300D subwoofer with copper hardlines; Hertz HDP5 digital amplifier; Hertz HSK130 2-way component speakers; Audison Connection RCAs and speaker cable.
“We would like to thank everyone who had a hand in helping us along the way: Luke, Stewart, Mark, Webb and Dean; Ollie at Motion Factory Finishes for the exterior paint; Will at TH Automotive for the engine bay paint; Phil at Bespoke Auto Interiors for his work on the interior; Simon at Kustom Kleen for his detailing work before Mod Nats; Our mates at Fitment Junkies; last but not least the other halves, Charis and Natalie for their incredible patience.”
Words Dan Beviz Photos Daniel Pullen