Modification Modification
Car: Ford | Fiesta | CX (Mk3) | L | Hatchback
Engine: HCS | 0 | Inline 4 | N/A | Petrol

1.1L to XR specification

This was to be my first car. I had been driving my parents 1300 Ghia around for a year, and now wanted something of my own. I brought the first car I went to see as it turned out to be very good, it was a 1989 Mk3 1100L in Mercury grey. I didn't particularly like the colour but the car had only done 44K and was exceptionally immaculate.

The car was very nice as it was, but there are a lot of Fiestas around and I wanted something that would stand out more. My Dad suggested that I dress it up as an XR2i so I decided to have a go at it.


I left the engine as standard, as it had been looked after and when the valve clearances were correct it was one of the quietest push rod Fiestas I have ever heard. I changed the oil and fitted a new set of plugs and leads. I also had to remove a non standard in-line filter between the carb and the fuel pump, as the filter was creating some vapour lock trouble. I also fitted a small filter to the end of the rocker cover breather to save the engine consuming its own oil fumes.

I fitted an under bonnet soundproofing mat from an XR2i which simply attaches to the bonnet carcass with some trim fasteners. The engine also got a steam clean to bring it up nice and clean.

The exhaust received a little modification from the manifold back. I didn't want a 'big bore' boy racer style exhaust and the standard XR2i system seemed ideal. I purchased a complete new 8v XR2i exhaust system from a friend and wanted to fit it to the 1100 manifold. The only alterations needed was to remove 1 3/4" from the 11000 manifold and weld the sealing flange back on. On XR2i models the exhaust hangs from a bracket on the gearbox bolts and as all fiesta gearboxes (except four speed auto) are the same I obtained this bracket from a local scrap yard and fitted it to my gearbox.

The new exhaust note was not any louder than standard but pleasantly deeper. The engine was freed up immensely, and I'm sure that with a K N and a carb re-jet even more power could be obtained.


I obtained a set of 8v XR2i suspension from a scrap yard and fitted this in place of the 1100 spec struts and springs. The XR dampers are visibly thicker at the front and have an extra tie bar for the provision of an anti-roll bar. The springs are also visibly thicker and the colour codes are different - Violet/Yellow for 1000/1100/1300/1400 and diesel, Yellow/Green for 1.4 Si and Green/Orange for XR, Si and 16v Ghia models (the Si and XR2i share the same suspension). The front struts were difficult to remove from the hubs, but one out refitting was easy. I also fitted an anti-roll bar from an XR2i, this slides in through the wheel arch and bolts to the wishbone carriers with a bracket and retaining bush on each side of the car.

The wheels and tyres came together as a package second hand. They are polished RS1800 14" rims with 185/60 tyres. These fit straight on with no problems except the addition of some XR2i wheel nuts which have a flange around the nut.

These modifications made the largest difference to the the car, body roll was cut immensely and the whole car felt a lot more positive on the road.


As this car was basically a standard 1100 there was no need whatsoever to alter the braking system. All that I did was to sand down the calipers and drums and paint them with silver Hammerite for cosmetic reasons.


The L spec Fiestas came without electric windows, central locking, tailgate release or rev counter. To add all these extras in one go I fitted the wiring loom from a 1991 fiesta Ghia which came standard with all these options. The loom was easy to fit as there is plenty of room left in an 1100 engine bay! I had cut out the alarm system that came with the car I brought and wired it into the new loom.

The loom coming from a Ghia was of course 4 door, but the extra connections can be taped back to the loom with no detrimental effects. The only modification I made to the loom was moving the electric window switches from the centre console (pre 1992 models) to the door bins (92-96 models) to match my new interior. This was done using the crimp on butt connectors and running lengths of wire under the carpet and into the doors via the rubber boots.

I wired in the front fogs and driving lamps using two separate relays and led the wires to the correct position on the dashboard. I brought a fog lamp switch from Ford for a stupid price, but it made the installation look like factory spec.


I didn't like the grey interiors that pre 1992 Fiestas had, so instead of an 8v XR2i interior I purchased a 16v XR one. This was more expensive than an 8v interior but came with the nice Ford winged seats. I borrowed a wet vac from the family garage and shampooed the lot, the whole interior came up to 'as new' standard. Interiors are easy to fit and made a dramatic improvement to the appearance inside, and the seats were very comfortable also. A turned aluminium Puma gearknob finished it all off.

I obtained some clocks from a 1991 1100 Ghia so that I could get a rev counter, as the L spec cars came without one.


Obtaining XR2i bumpers complete with driving lamps proved to be very difficult, I eventually found a complete body kit but both bumpers and the side skirts came from different parts of the country! I also got a hatchback spoiler from the same person who supplied the wheels and tyres.

A local bodyshop firm sprayed the bodykit only and not the mirrors and spoiler as I wanted the car to look 'standard'. When I picked the bumpers and bodykit up they looked great and I bolted the bumpers on straight away. This alone made a big difference to the car, but I fixed the bodykit on with Silkaflex silicone adhesive and alloy rivets.

Finishing touches were to pinch the clear indicators from my Mums Ghia and to remove the old style Ford badges and replace with the new, smaller variety. The finished result was brilliant and I was very pleased!

This is now my brothers first car and is still immaculate with only 46k miles! He has added some white dials and 15" TSW Alpine alloys.

© Mark Stewart, Monday 1st March 1999
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