We take a look back at some of the epic features that graced the pages of our sister title Fast Ford magazine. This time it’s Tom’s modified Mk7 Ford Fiesta from 2016…
Maybe it’s human nature to be subconsciously competitive, but almost all big car builds are created with an achievement in mind, usually to hit a certain power level, lap time, quarter mile ET, or even to build a full race car with the aim of reaching the top step of the winners podium. What we all too often forget though, is fast and fun are two very different things, and while achieving your performance goals is enjoyable, pushing things to the limit, either to prove yours is the best, or simply because competition rules mean you have no choice to do otherwise, means the inevitable stress from expensive breakages and failures can all to often totally suck the fun out of things; maybe even make you wonder if you should’ve chosen a different hobby.
At the other end of the scale from the fun-sapping stress that certain car builds end up becoming, are the Scandinavian cars made world famous by the Gatebil series of car shows. While they’re some of the wildest track cars on the planet, and indeed many are used in the time attack and drift competitions, because there are almost no restrictions on specification and focus is more on going wild and having fun than winning trophies, the stress levels are low, the smiles-per-mile are huge, and everybody considers their insane creations money well spent.
Both Tom Blackwood, the owner of this incredible Fiesta, and Andrew Gallacher who created this beast, are no strangers to either ridiculously Fast Fords or the cars and build philosophy found at Gatebil events, so it’s almost no surprise that between them the most ‘Gatebil’ car we’ve ever seen in the UK has been created.
So, what do we mean by a ‘Gatebil’ car? Well, thanks to the almost total lack of rules, it can be almost anything, as long as it’s fun, and really, really fast. When we mean fast, we don’t mean fast like a typical fast track car, we mean almost uncontrollably powerful, a car that may not be the best in the world at any particular aspect of performance, but one of the wildest rides you can imagine, a true adrenaline rush, that also wows the spectators with its ridiculous performance and looks to match.
And how is this level of four-wheeled insanity achieved with what looks like a factory-built M-Sport Fiesta rally car? Well, while a Fiesta rally car is a serious performer and a real head turner in its own right, this car is nothing like it looks, as under the bonnet of this beast is a 700bhp supercharged V8 that sends its power to the rear tyres via a six speed sequential gearbox!
We can imagine many of you are already thinking “I’d like this more if this had a 700bhp Cossie engine”, and while that sort of power is certainly possible from a boosted four cylinder lump, there’s little doubt any small capacity engine pushing out 700bhp is hugely expensive and highly stressed. This is something Tom knows all about too, as one of his other cars, a wild WRC kitted Escort Cosworth, has an 820bhp YB under the bonnet!
The V8 that powers this beast is actually a factory Ford lump, a special version of the five litre Coyote V8, the Ford Performance ‘Aluminator’ engine; a fully forged engine specifically built for turbo and supercharged applications. This engine is then supercharged by famous US tuners Edelbrock to a massive 700bhp and 606lb/ft on normal pump fuel, and sold as one of their own ready to run crate engine packages. While the peak numbers are impressive, the relentless power delivery is even more so, as not only has it got over 600lb/ft as low as 3000rpm, but it makes 700bhp right up at 7000rpm, so no matter where in the rev range you are, no matter what gear you are in, even the slightest touch of the accelerator pedal unleashes huge acceleration, usually combined with massive clouds of smoke from the tortured rear tyres.
“This whole project actually started when I spotted this engine while looking for an alternative to a high power YB engine” Tom explains, and looking at what you get for the money, it’s clear to see the attraction. While the performance alone is impressive, what really sealed the deal for him was not only does the engine come as a complete setup that is ready to run, including a pre-programmed ECU, but it even comes with something almost unbelievable for an engine producing a such incredible amounts of power; a two year unlimited mile warranty!
Tom originally planned to fit this supercharged V8 under the bonnet of an Escort Cosworth, which in itself sounds like a fun idea, but when Andrew Gallacher mentioned he had a Fiesta shell available, one thing lead to another, and this incredible project was soon in progress.
Fitting a supercharged V8 and rear wheel drive transmission to what was originally a lowly front wheel drive shopping car is no simple task, and while countless Fords have been converted to rear drive over the years, most have been done by cutting away the original floorpan and strut towers and welding in ones from a donor Sierra shell. This one however, while running a Cosworth based front and rear suspension design, doesn’t use a donor chassis, and in fact keeps a surprising amount of the original Fiesta floorpan and chassis rails, albeit with extensive custom fabrication by AG Motorsport that left the car almost unrecognisable as a Fiesta in the early stages of the build!
The result of this work is not only that the big V8 and RWD transmission all fits, but the car weighs no more than a standard Mk7 Fiesta ST, and isn’t the nose heavy car people may think either; retaining the factory 60-40 weight distribution thanks to a custom bulkhead allowing the engine to sit far back in the bay. To complete this car from a handling point of view, one-off front and rear suspension mounting points were fabricated and tied in to the roll cage, and along with a fully custom rear end to allow the Group A touring car rear suspension to be fitted, the result is a superbly engineered, great handling, albeit frighteningly fast and tail-happy, car.
So, the looks. Well, it looks like a Fiesta WRC car, right? Well, almost! The car is actually running a genuine M-Sport Fiesta R5+ bodykit, which is from the car that competes in the WRC-2 championship, and though it looks incredibly similar to the full WRC bodywork, there’s a few subtle differences you’d notice if the cars were side by side.
The reason the kit was fitted to this car was twofold. Firstly, there’s no doubt the Fiesta rally cars look incredible, and it’s a look Tom loves too, especially as he wanted the car to stand out without being obvious that it was packing a rear drive V8 punch; the fact most would think it’s a factory M-Sport 1.6ltr 4wd rally car is the ideal disguise! Secondly, the massive wheel arches, which on the rears the original quarter panels are cut away to almost the bottom of the window for maximum tyre clearance, are the only way to house the massive tyres that a beast like this needs to perform to its true potential.
While on the face of it, having skinny rear tyres on a car deliberately built to slide sounds like a good thing, in reality, especially on track, a lack of grip when drifting is slow, and that’s just not the adrenaline rush that drifting at massive speeds is; and this car is capable of easily overpowering the rear tyres at upwards of 120mph! Thanks to the R5+ arches, Tom has the tyre issue well covered, with 245 wide Toyo R888 fronts, and mammoth 275 wide rears, which while they help give the car incredible acceleration thanks to a power to weight ratio better even than a Bugatti Veyron, this car still has the ability to smoke the tyres right through to the rev limiter in top; a touch over 150mph with the current diff ratio.
On the inside things once again closely resemble a works rally car, and has been done to a standard that even M-Sport would be proud of. As you’d expect, the main features are the complex roll cage and a pair of hugely supportive bucket seats, but while there’s the bare minimum fitted to keep the occupants safe and the driver focussed, things like the flocked dash, carbon door cards, and compact digital dash help make it visually impressive too. When behind the wheel though the great looking interior is the last thing on Tom’s mind, and instead the key part of the interior is the sequential gear lever and Geartronics flat shift system, allowing him to fly through the gears with his right foot buried to the floor.
At the time of going to press this car is still a very fresh build and Tom has only managed to use it in anger a couple of times so far, but his first impressions are good. “I built it for track fun and drifting, and it does that for sure; it’s an animal!” he explained. “It just wants to go sideways everywhere, so much grunt, but feels completely different to my Escort Cosworth in the way it puts the power down thanks to it being RWD. There’s still some improvements to be made, but it already drives, steers, and stops great, which is a great start for such a big build”.
Will this car signal the start of a new era for Fast Fords in the UK? One where people stop obsessing over being crowned as the fastest or the best, and take a leaf out of the Gatebil book and simply build cars that are the ultimate adrenaline rush? Well, this is Ford’s own ethos with the new Focus RS too, fast, but deliberately designed to be far more fun than the competition, so we may be on to something here…
Tech Spec: Modified Mk7 Ford Fiesta
Ford 5.0 litre quad cam 32V Coyote V8, Ford Performance Aluminator-spec engine, Mahle 9.5:1 low compression forged pistons, Manley H-section conrods, ARP rod bolts, forged crankshaft, 80mm throttle body, Boss uprated valve springs, Mustang GT spec cams, colder spark plugs, billet oil pump, Ford Racing oil filter, Edelbrock G-Force supercharger system with Eaton TVS 2.3ltr supercharger, Edelbrock inlet manifold with integral chargecooler, 500cc injectors, Edelbrock mapped Ford ECU, custom AG oil and fuel lines, Pro-Alloy custom radiator and oil cooler, WRC-spec wiring loom, K&N cone filter, Pro-Alloy custom fuel tank and alloy swirlpot, tubular exhaust manifolds, AG custom twin side exit exhaust system.
Quaife 69G 6 speed sequential rear wheel drive gearbox, AP Racing twin place clutch, Geatronics flat shift system, custom propshaft, 3.9:1 ratio 9inch rear diff with plated LSD
Custom AG Motorsport front and rear strut towers, rose jointed alloy top mounts, 2wd Cosworth front crossmember, 4×4 Cosworth front hubs, adjustable front compression struts, bladed front ARB, Proflex remote reservoir coilovers, RS500 Group A rear beam and tubular rear trailing arms, Quaife non-PAS Sierra steering rack and pinion, Vauxhall Corsa electric power steering column with DC Electronics ECU.
AP Racing 360mm front discs with 6 pot calipers, AP Racing 330mm front discs with 4pot calipers, Brembo hydraulic handbrake, Wilwood race pedal box
Wheels and Tyres:
8.5×18 (front) and 10×18 (rear) Compomotive MO alloys, 245/40×18 Toyo R888 (front) and 275/35×18 (rear) tyres
Full M-Sport Fiesta R5+ bodykit, carbon rear wing, Plastics4Performance lightweight windows, Fiesta R5/WRC carbon rear wing and vented bonnet, carbon roof vent
Custom rollcage tied in to front and rear suspension pickup points, carbon doorcards, flocked dash, Race Technology Dash2 Pro digital dash, Cartek power distribution modules, Lifeline fire extinguisher setup, Sparco suede steering wheel with quick release boss, Cobra Sebring Pro bucket seats, Titon harnesses.
Feature taken from Fast Ford magazine, October 2016.