Information Information
Car: Ford | Fiesta | CX (Mk3) | RS Turbo | Hatchback
Engine: CVH | 0 | Inline 4 | (EFI) | Turbocharged | Petrol

Fiesta RS Turbo restoration

At the present time a large number of the remaining FRST's are being broken, either because the modified examples are worth more in parts, or because the mechanical components/bodywork are in such poor condition that it is not financially viable to repair them.

I capitalised on this situation by buying a part-broken car for the 'right price' that had a good body but poor mechanicals. I have just completed a restoration of this car, and the following sections are an A-Z of the steps undertaken to bring the car back to good condition.

ABS removal

ABS was a factory option on all Mk3/Mk3.5 Fiesta's. The system is an antiquated mechanically operated affair that uses belts around the inner CV joints to detect the onset of a locked wheel. The system was outdated even when the Mk3 Fiesta was first released and as is to be expected, system performance is poor.

I tested the braking performance and it was terrible, by no means up to the cars performance which is in stage 1 tune. The pedal feel is also bad, even for a Mk3. The ABS appears to do nothing even though both belts and calipers were OK - the left wheel locks up while the right doesn't. To get a decent pedal back and to even out the braking I made the decision to remove the ABS system.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Removal is simple, requiring only 3 new parts. The brake fluid reservoir needs swapping for a non-ABS variant (right), which will have blanks over the ABS modulator feed line take-offs. An alternative is to loop a piece of tube between each ABS take off, but for peace of mind it's worth getting the correct replacement.

Brake bias is regulated by load apportioning valves at the rear of the car, the brake lines for which come from two T-pieces on the inner wing. The T-Pieces also feed the front brakes, and take the output lines from the ABS modulators.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

To remove the ABS system I had 2 short sections of brake line made (above right) to link the master cylinder directly to the 2 T-pieces, instead of through the ABS modulators then the T-Pieces as before. This keeps the rear apportioning valve and negates the need to change any other brake lines on the car.

The new brake lines can be carefully radiused to look neat, see the photo (left) for the finished tubing installation.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The task is finished by removing the modulators themselves (right), which bolt to the gearbox.

There are sensors on each of the ABS units which illuminate a warning lamp on the dashboard in the event of the wheels locking, the wires for these lead to a 2 pin connector on the bulkhead. This can be safely left disconnected, as per non-ABS cars.

Cooling system

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The FRST is infamous for cooling issues, on the whole this is unfounded and often down to poorly maintained examples, however there is an inherent design flaw with the cooling fan wiring and relay.

The FRST tends to run much hotter than the rest of the range and hence the fan is on for a greater percentage of time, the wiring is not upgraded for the car and isn't up to the job. As the cars get older and the wiring oxidises then problems can occur such as burnt out wires and relay mounts, leaving no cooling fan and an overheated engine.

The stock Ford wiring is bypassed on my car, and the fan is fed directly from the battery via a separate relay installed with thicker gauge wiring than Ford used.

The cooling fan is critical to system performance on the RS, so on account of this I replaced the fan switch in the thermostat housing with a new Ford item. The the temperature gauge sender (above left) was also replaced and a brand new sender wire woldered in place of the old one.

I wanted to ensure the entire cooling system was in 100% condition, so went through the entire system looking for potential trouble areas. As a matter of course I replace the thermostat and gasket when rebuilding an engine. The radiator is a re-cored unit, eliminating the possibility of sludge decreasing its efficiency. All coolant hoses were examined, and any that were in not in excellent condition were replaced with new genuine Ford hoses.


The gearbox was removed and cleaned, and as told by the previous owner (who I knew so trusted) there were no noises before removal, so there was no need to strip it down for inspection. Unlike engines, B5 gearboxes will either work or they won't. The bearings give audible warning of impending break-down by emitting a 'whine', and on the B5 gearbox this means failure is imminent.

I drained the gearbox oil and refilled it with fresh oil, and also fitted a new clutch release bearing, as on Fiestas these are prone to make noise at idle.

CV boots

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Split CV boots are an MOT failure, and those fitted to the car were the originals. After 14 years of service they seen better days and so I decided to replace them before they gave up at an inconvenient time.

Changing CV boots isn't the most pleasant job. Pre 1993 cars such as this have 'ball and cage' type inner and outer joints, and the circlips can be tricky to get to. It is easier to remove the outer CV joint from the hub and slide both boots on from this way. The old inner boot can be cut off.


The majority of wiring on the car will still be as good as it left the factory, indeed everything functioned correctly on the car. However for peace of mind I examined the engine bay loom for defects, both the engine management and main car sections. The loom that serves devices located at the lower front of the engine bay is exposed to the elements more than the rest, as water can pass through the radiator and attack connections and wiring located here.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Copper wire oxidises when exposed to rain and salt, and this process reduces it's current carrying capacity. Visual inspection showed the main starter motor and alternator to be a little past their best, so I replaced the whole fly loom. There are several further wires at the front of the engine bay that are integral with the main car loom, these are; Horns, reverse light switch, dashboard alternator charge light and starter motor trigger wire. The trigger wire was separate from the car loom from late 1990 onwards, but as this is an early car it was integral with the main car loom.

Stripping back the insulation from wires feeding the aforementioned devices revealed corrosion that had advanced a surprising way into the main loom. This could have been left, and the car would continue to function, but for reliability's sake I wanted to replace all corroded wiring. The solution was to remove the loom tape and keep removing small sections of insulation until the start of good wire was found (left). The affected wiring was cut out and replaced by brand new wire in the correct Ford colours. Any connections that are exposed were liberally covered in grease.


The engine came installed in the car but without it's cylinder head fitted, this presented the ideal opportunity to get an idea of the engines condition. A quick visual inspection showed the bores to be without scores but glazed, and a slight wear ridge was also present. As I was going to run the car in stage 1 tune, I thought it prudent to rebuild the engine. This wasn't going to be cheap, in fact for a similar budget I could have installed a Zetec Turbo, but for originality I would keep the CVH.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The engine was duly removed for a rebuild, photos of the engine as removed: Engine 1, Engine 2, Engine 3, Engine 4.

I wanted to make sure the rebuild was done to high standards, and I wanted everything to be on a standard grind with no overbore, just for pure originality. This meant buying a large amount of parts to combine them to make an excellent engine, in fact I ended up with 4 donor engines (right).

Components from each engine were measured, and the best combined.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

While the engine was out the ancillaries could be inspected. The starter motor was a new reconditioned unit, so no hot starting issues to worry about from dry solenoids. The alternator was also fine. The engine bay as a whole needed a good clean and with the engine removed it was the ideal time for a de-greasing session.

Luckily there were no parts missing, such as hose clips and trim fastenings which get left off after work carried out by garages. Close examination of the fuel lines revealed perished hose, and this was duly replaced with brand new 'injection' rated hose.

Engine mounts are a problem on even 1.1 Mk3 Fiestas, therefore it was no surprise to find that both the engine mount (above left) and both gearbox mounts were in poor condition, so these were replaced.

Most parts on the car were to be replaced with standard items for originality, but for some areas I decided to make a few subtle changes. For instance I replaced the charge carrier, strut top mounts and the rocker cover with chromed versions. The header tank was also replaced as it had gone a dull brown colour.

Bottom end rebuild

The bottom end was drained of oil and stripped down. Heavy oil varnish is to be expected with the age of the car, but it's nothing that cannot be taken care of. What I was looking out for was sludge, going by the cars very comprehensive service history I really didn't expect to find any. As with any neglected engine, a CVH's will suffer from a have a pitch black coating over all internal coatings suggesting infrequent oil changes, and in extreme cases and the top end and crankshaft area will be covered in thick sludge and carbon deposits. None of those issues here, not that I expected them.

The CVH is an old engine, dating back to the early 80's. This is evident in some of it's construction, for instance the 2 main oil galleries are line bored from the rear of the engine and are sealed with threaded bungs. Modern engines use sand or lost foam casting to remove the need for additional machine work such as this.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The block was stripped of all components including the oil gallery bungs, and all gasket faces were scraped clean. I then sent the block to a machinists to be re-faced.

When re-facing was complete, I used a paraffin spray gun and air line to clean the block. Particular attention was given to the oil ways which were all were blown through with air after the paraffin.

When finally dry the block was sprayed in a coat of Silver Hammerite (right).

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

A comprehensive set of parts were purchased to rebuild the engine as a whole, including all new genuine Ford gaskets and seals, and new std size piston rings and bearings.

Main bearing and big end bearing caps bolts can be reused in the CVH, although I'd really only re-tighten them once following the original build.

The water pump and clutch had been recently replaced by the previous owner and were as new, the flywheel was also excellent which was a surprise. No re-face was required.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The pistons and rods were cleaned up, no scores present so the pistons were fine to be re-used. I cleaned the ring lands of any carbon deposits and fitted the new rings, paying careful attention to the orientation each of the 3 piece oil control rings. I tend to space the 2 compression ring gaps opposite each other for maximum compression - every little helps.

The original big end bearings showed slight signs of wear, so crankshaft measurements were taken. The crank was well within Ford std. tolerances so replacement with std. size bearings was fine, and this is what I wanted. I replaced both the big ends and mains with new bearings.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The final part of the bottom end to rebuild was the oil pump, and again this was stripped and cleaned with the paraffin. The casing itself is separate from the pump components and high pressure relief valve. The rotor recess showed no sign of wear or score marks which can be associated with contaminated oil.

In this case it is fine to rebuild the oil pump, and kits are available which comprise new rotors and a relief valve spring and seal. The pump was rebuilt and the cover torqued to spec.

Completed bottom end:

Cylinder Head rebuild

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

As was the case with the bottom end, the head and valve train had a layer of oil varnish. Again, no signs of sludge. I stripped the head for inspection as most of the valve train components are subject to wear and must be measured. Components are grouped together (right) and must not be mixed.

The camshaft required no measuring, as is usually the case with the CVH the inlet lobe on No4 had worn excessively and could easily be spotted by eye. This wear is due to a design problem with the head, meaning that the lobes on number 4 receive an inadequate oil supply. This coupled with the high spring rates on the CVH means that camshafts wear rapidly.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The cam was replaced but the valve guides and stems were within Ford tolerances so retained, however the exhaust valve seats were very pitted, it is very doubtful if there was even an 80% seal. The photo also shows a sealing compound that had been used on the head, for reliability's sake I sent the head to a local machinists to be re-faced and 'de-coked'.

The exhaust valves had a fairly thick covering of carbon, this and condition of the valve seats points to leaking valve stem oil seals. A build up of carbon on the valve stem can compromise gas flow by a significant amount.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

With the head stripped I could remove any carbon from the exhaust valves. I then set to the laborious task of lapping in the valves, this a time to be glad that you have an 8v motor! 2 hours later and I had managed to remove all the carbon and pitting from the valves and valve seats. The photo (above left) shows the results of this work.

I re-assembled the valves and springs with new valve stem oil seals. These are the later 'top hat' type that are sandwiched between the valve spring and the head. Earlier types were independent and simply pushed over the tip of the valve guide, and often 'rode up' with the valve which caused oil leaks.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The valve guides came as part of a 'top end' gasket set from Ford (left photo). This includes all the gaskets required to completely rebuild the head, including throttle body and ISCV gaskets.

As the head bolts are simply standard 10.9 grade bolts, I tend to go for pattern part items, as Ford bolts are 3x the price and offer no improvement in quality.

I always use Ford head gaskets as good quality is assured, however for the FRST the Felpro gasket has also been proven to work well.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

After the valve components have been assembled the cam can be fitted. A new cam must always be fitted with new lifters (right), it is complete false economy to mix a combination of worn item and new in this area. If the lifter bores are damaged in any way then the head is scrap, oversize lifters are not made for the engine and sleeving would be prohibitively expensive.

Finally the rocker arms were inspected for wear, all were in very good condition so were refitted.

Completed head:


The exterior of the car was to be left standard but for a couple of small details. The main focus was on giving everything a good clean, as when the car was picked up its paintwork was in a sorry state. It looked like it had not seen polish in a long time, Ford Red tends to oxidise and become 'pink'. Copious amounts of T-Cut and Autoglym Super Resin Polish were required, along with a lot of elbow grease. I find 'Super Resin Polish' is as good as anything else on the market for the exterior of the car, especially when finished with 'Extra Gloss Protection'.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

A lot of exterior trim wasn't up to the standard I wanted, so the following were replaced:

• Door catches - 6158189 (left)
• Door seals - 1018266
• Headlamps (O/S-1062424 N/S-6193001)
• Indicators (O/S-6161440 N/S-6161441)
• Sunroof - 1029027
• Tailgate catch - 6190798
• Wiper arms - 6175584 and wipers - 1021648

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

As I got the car it had a post 1992 tailgate (no lower swage lines) and an RS accessory spoiler (right). To keep the car original I wanted the correct year of tailgate and I really didn't like the 80's looking lower spoiler, so a replacement tailgate was sourced.

I find it hard to locate good Mk3 parts now and finding an early tailgate in good condition with no rust took a few phone calls. Like the car, the paint required renovation, and the window seal had seen better days so it was replaced.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

I tracked down a genuine Ford rear decal in the correct 'light silver' colour for a Red car (left). I have the original Ford FRST brochure so could see exactly where to align the decal. It's a somewhat pedantic approach to adopt, but serves to create a restored car that mirrors the factory original.

The decal is simply stuck on over the pre-polished paintwork, although I have seen some cars that have the decal underneath the lacquer. I decided that approach would be too risky in case the lacquer reacted with the decal.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

One of the modifications I made to the exterior was to fit a set of genuine ford RS Accessory rear lights (right). These are very rare in the UK as not many people specified them as an option from new, they are distinguishable from standard lights by the smoked indicator band. Standard fiesta lights have an orange band. They don't look hugely different from the originals, but are quite an 'enthusiast' touch.

I had no genuine FRST spoiler with the car, so I have temporarily installed a black XR2i one. This will be replaced ASAP along with the fitment of a rear Ford badge.


Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

As with the exterior the priority here was to bring everything back to excellent condition, not fit modified parts. I made a list of items that needed replacing, for instance one of the kick panels had cracked and the steering wheel was worn. All sub-standard parts were replaced (left).

Piping on the Recaro seat bolsters tends to wear on high mileage cars, especially if previous owners have not been careful getting in and out. Due to the cars age and nature, it is hard to find good second-hand parts. As was the case with the engine, I ended up buying at least 2 sets of everything so that I could put together one excellent interior.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

I stripped out the interior, and all plastic parts were scrubbed with a scrubbing brush and detergent. The grained plastic tends to trap dirt over the years and can look grubby in some lights. All of the glass was given a good clean and the plastics were finished with Meguiars 'Interior Shine', this leaves more of a muted sine than silicone based products.

The seats, door cards and carpets were all shampooed several times and cleaned with an industrial wet-vac (right). The carpet in particular took a lot of effort to clean as the FRST's & Ghia's came with a deeper pile carpet than the rest of the Fiesta range. After several shampoo's it looked like new.

Completed interior:

Suspension and steering

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Replacement of suspension components is something that I do on any Fiesta I buy to run, as this area of the car tends to get overlooked - especially the lower arms. I have found that for optimal performance on a Mk3/3.5, the majority of suspension components will need replacement at 40k intervals.

I rarely use pattern parts, but particularly advise against using them in the suspension area. Pattern part lower arms, for example, last half as long as genuine Ford items.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

I replaced the following parts with new items:

• Anti-roll bar drop links - 1666243 (above right)
• ARB bushes (front-7102392 rear-1659591) (above right)
• ARB mounts (front-6788739 rear-6639007 + 6639007) (above right)
• Lower arms - 1054985 (left)
• Rear beam void bushes - 6745350 (above right)
• Steering rack Universal Joint - 7257202
• Suspension top mounts - 6150277
• Track rod ends - 6128814 (above right)
Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The front lower arms and ARB bushes in particular take a lot of punishment. The ARB bushes on the car had not been replaced for a long time, if at all, and had gone extremely soft. When the bushes get too soft, the bar is free to move around within the metal mounting and under hard acceleration it can actually distort the metal bush retainers. In my case the mounts were badly out of shape and so I replaced all 6 on the car.

The photo (right) shows the new suspension components in place. When fitting new lower arms the ball joint pinch bolt and nut should be replaced regardless of their condition.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The photo (left) shows a pair of front strut top mounts. The right hand side mount is brand new, and the left is from the N/S of my car. It is easy to spot the deformation by eye, over time the mount splays outward under the cars weight. Old mounts cause a harsh ride and poor suspension geometry, and at just over £5 from Ford they are cheap enough to do every 10k miles.

It is just possible to fit them without removing anything more than the wheel and strut top cap.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The final component I fitted was a steering UJ, these are another Fiesta weak point. The UJ has no dust cover and the resulting exposure to dust and water means they wear out faster than they should. I tend to replace them as a matter of course when I buy a car. There is supposedly a revised version that comes complete with a dust cover, but I have never been sent one.

Fitting is simply a case of removing 2 13mm pinch bolts/nuts, removing the O/S rack mount bolt, and slackening the N/S mount bolt just enough to move the rack down to make room to remove/refit a joint. This is an easy task, even with the engine in the car. Ford part number for the non-PAS version is 7257202.

Rear beam void bush replacement

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The rear beam bushes are another overlooked area of the car when seeking maximum performance and handling. In this case I was going for 100% perfect, so orderd a set of new bushes without test driving the car.

Fitting and removal can be tricky, the correct method is to remove the beam and use a press to insert/remove the bushes. I really didn't want to remove the rear beam, brake lines and exhaust so I devised a way to change the bushes in situ.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

While leaving the struts attached to the beam, I undid the front mount bolts and let the beam pivot down front the rear, which gave me access to the bushes. I used a blow torch to slowly burn out the old bushes (above left), this was not a quick task and required scraping out layers of molten rubber with a screwdriver until the whole bush was gone.

Getting a new bush in to the beam can be tricky, and I do not recommend using any lubricant at this stage as it makes the job twice as difficult. Once the bush is located inside the beam liberally coat it with Fairy liquid.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

To fit the new bushes I made use of a small bench vice to act as a press. An Escort Zetec alternator pulley is the perfect size to fit over the end of the bush and protect it from being damaged as the vice is tightened (above right).

I found that the bush would not go in all the way by using the vice alone, there is a 10mm lip at the end of the bush that is a very tight interference fit in the beam. To drive this last part home I used a rubber faced mallet and tapped evenly around the outer circumference of the bush. The fitted bush can be seen in the photo (left).

T3 Conversion

I purchased the car without a turbo, and for me fitting a standard T2 was not an option. Shaft speeds on the turbo are very high past 10psi, and this combined with an inadequate oil return means that turbo life is severely compromised. As T2's are prone to failure, especially on chipped cars, good second hand units are both rare and expensive.

Another reason for going T3 is that the unit is much more suited to the engine, the boost threshold is slightly higher than that of the t2, but it really is negligible when out on the open road. The T3 won't leave you short changing into 4th like the T2 will, and gives a broad powerband that is very useful in everyday driving.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Air filter

The T3's orientation is exactly opposite to that of the T2, meaning the standard airbox cannot be used without considerable modifications to the inlet pipe work. The standard airbox has been used in some cases, although it makes for a long length of induction pipe work with some nasty 90º bends.

My solution was to attach a universal air filter directly to the neck of the compressor housing inlet. The filter has a low profile so that it can clear the upper radiator hose. Another way is to cut the FRST inlet hose and use that to place the filter above the gearbox.

I cut a circle in the top of the filter and used a 90º fitting to connect a breather hose, which runs back to the stock breather pot near the inlet.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Boost hose

As with the inlet, the compressor outlet is in a very different position to that of the T2. To join the outlet to the intercooler inlet I used a mixture of old exhaust pipe and the blue silicone hose that Ford use on the T2 installation.

I used two slightly curved pieces of pipe, and measured them to create the a tube with the required skew. Once welded together and the rough edges filed smooth, the FRST silicone hoses were cut to suit and clamped on.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Coolant hoses

My choice of air filter meant that I had no room for the standard top hose with its turbo coolant feed. I had no plans to run water cooling on the T3 anyway, as this tends to put too much heat in to the cooling system. Removing this has no detrimental effects providing the turbo is left to cool down after a run.

I used a top hose from a 2000 Honda Accord VTEC (left), when cut it is a near exact match but without the lower take off that fouled the filter.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration


I cut off the front section of original exhaust as close to the fixing clamp as possible and used an Escort T3 down pipe and cut that as close to the FRST exhaust as I could (left). I then welded the two sections together.

I found it much easier to tack everything in position on the car, and then lower the exhaust from the turbo back in order to seam weld the join. I used a Magnex stainless exhaust as it offers perormance gains over the original without being any louder. It also looks a lot better.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Radiator positioning

The T3 actuator bracket fouls the radiator, in fact the turbo cannot even be fitted unless the radiator is moved to accommodate it. Further room is required to take engine movement into account, if this is not done the radiator will be ruptured by the turbo during hard acceleration.

The FRST rad is held to the slam panel by 3 brackets, I removed the centre one so that the radiator and intercooler can pivot outwards in the middle, leaving an extra inch of room in front of the actuator.

In order to give the rad enough clearance to pivot outwards I had to bend the bonnet catch support bar, as the photo (above left) shows. When the radiator is finally in position the turbo has enough room to move.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Mounting the turbo

The T3 bolts directly in place of the T2, and the same studs can be used. I initially used the T2 manifold gasket that was supplied with a top end gasket set, however the port cut-outs were too large and the turbo did not seal. The Escort RST gasket is needed which is Ford part number 1023231.

The escort oil feed line (1630538) is required, as is the oil return connector (1630538).

Completed conversion:


Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

To make the most of the new T3 conversion I fitted a 'stage 0' or '165' chip. The chip plugs on to the data port on the bottom edge of the EECIV ECU. A 165 chip simply removes the factory standard 9-10psi boost limit.

The OEM intercooler, pistons and fuel injectors can safely support 13psi and 180bhp, but to err on the side of caution I set up the car to run 12psi. I cannot stress enough that the car must be in good health before chipping is carried out, this means a good fuel pump, good fuel pump wiring, correct CO level and good compression. The difference over the standard car is like night and day, a very noticeable increase in performance.

The finished article

© Mark Stewart, Wednesday 15th June 2005
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