Modification Modification
Car: Ford | Fiesta | Mk5 | Finesse | Hatchback
Engine: Endura | 0 | Inline 4 | N/A | Petrol

1.3 Finesse modifications

The Mk3 TDi project engine in my current runabout was sold and in its place is a standard 1.8 N/A Diesel engine. My plan was to use the car for the final year of University and sell it on after graduation. It's now a third of the way through the University year and I am left wanting something a little nicer to replace the Mk3.5 Diesel.

It's getting increasingly harder to find nice examples of the Mk3 Fiesta and to be short, (my project car aside) they have had their day. I'm sure there are some fantastic examples around but I'm always looking at the engineering and design aspects of a car so, it's nice to have a newer model to learn from. I've never liked the shape of the Mk4 therefore I looked to the Mk5 for a replacement

A suitable car turned up in Scotland so, together with my Dad I made a New Year's Day trek to Glasgow to collect it. The car is a year 2000 Finesse 3 door in Pepper red. The 'Finesse' has a sunroof and side mouldings but that's about it, a reasonably basic model but it was for sale at good price. It is a 'good car' and has covered only 13,000 miles with 1 MOT under its belt. Like the many 'runabout' cars that had gone before this one I had not planned on including it on the site, but being such a good base to work with I decided to make a few changes as outlined in the following sections.

Special thanks to Mikee for paintwork on the grille, mirrors and spoiler. The colour match is absolutely perfect.


14 inch Freestyle alloy wheels

14" 'Freestyle' alloy wheels

The Freestyle was a last of the line Mk5 model that replaced the 'Zetec'. The Zetec models came with 14" alloys with 175/60/14 tyres, quite a strange size of tyre. The Freestyle wheels have 185/55/14 tyres.

Secondhand wheels go for around £150 for a set, regardless of being the Freestyle or Zetec. Fitting is straightforward and even though these are not expensive wheels it is worth spending extra money on a set of locking wheel nuts.

Colour coded mirrors

Colour coded mirrors

All models upwards from the LX have these as standard, whilst the rest of the range (mine included) has the rough finish black plastic.

The mirrors are secured by 3 screws, to gain access to these screws the inner blanking plate along with the door card have to be removed. The door card is held on by several screws, one in the lower section, one at the base of the door grip and another at the back of the door handle. Once these are removed the door card can be pulled free from it's securing fastenings.

Indicator lens removed

Indicator lens removal

The orange indicator lenses within the headlights can be removed to give a clean look to the front end. To perform this modification the headlight unit has to be removed from the car

Once out, the 4 clips holding the glass cover need to removed followed by the glass. The key to a smooth operation is to heat the bedding sealant to aid removal of the glass cover. The orange lens is then removed by squeezing 3 barbed prongs and pulling the lens away from the headlight.

OEM Front Fog lights

OEM Front Fog lights

These were optional on most of the Mk5 range and came fitted as standard to the higher spec cars, particularly the 'sport' models. I wanted to fit a set to my car as I think they balance out the front end with it's somewhat large headlights.

Fitting is a lot more involved than I expected, entailing headlight removal to permit access to both bumper securing nuts (the bumper itself has to come off). Once off, a section needs to be cut from the bumper to make room for the rear of the light units. The lights are secured with two lugs and a screw.

OEM Mud flaps

OEM Mud flaps

A modification that surely wont be to everyone's taste. I know most people tend to remove these from a car if it comes with them fitted. In most cases I agree and think mud flaps ruin the look however, in the case of the Mk4 & Mk5 Fiesta they add a touch of visual weight to the lower edge of the car.

A complete set is around £40 from Ford if you don't get discount. Fitting is easy, the rears utilise 1 of the bumper mounting screws and 2 clips, and the fronts rely purely on 3 clips to keep them in place.

OEM Spoiler

OEM Spoiler

Again, standard on the sport models and an option on every other model. Spoilers are freely available 2nd hand being identical to the previous Mk4.

Fitting the spoiler involves drilling 4 6mm holes in the tailgate. I found it best to make a paper template of the spoiler and tape it to the tailgate for a guide. The spoiler bolts through with 4 studs, secured with nuts. Blanking plates on the rear of the tailgate conceal the studs/nuts and permit access with a socket.

Zetec-S Grille

Zetec-S Grille

The Zetec-S grille comes in 2 types, phase 1 and phase 2. The former is stainless steel and permits seamless removal of the Ford badge. The latter, like mine, is plastic and does not. Removing the badge is of no interest to me anyway as the car looks plain without it

Fitting the grille is incredibly easy and requires no tools. Simply open the bonnet, open out the two clips along the top edge of the grille and slide it out. The new grille slides down and should firmly locate in place.


Ford ensign on steering wheel

Ford ensign on steering wheel

This is more of a finishing touch, but it's all in the details. Phase 2 Mk5's came with this as standard, where all previous Fiestas simply had a black plastic Ford moulding which looks very cheap.

I obtained the ensign from a scrap car. To fit, I used a scalpel to shave off my current Ford lettering, leaving a flat surface. The new ensign is metal and 2 securing lugs need removing from the back of it, I used a bench grinder. Once that was done I secured it to my wheel with carpet adhesive.

High spec sun visors

High spec sun visors

At first this may seem like a completely pointless modification and a waste of effort and money, it is really.. however female passengers really appreciate a mirror. Every model from the LX upwards is fitted with these as standard, and to the best of my knowledge they all come in the same light beige colour.

The units are easy to swap, being held in place by 2 screws on a bracket situated towards the sides of the car, and a clip on the opposite side.

Sport model dashboard trim

Sport model dashboard trim

My car had black dashboard trim from the factory. Freestyle's, Zetec's and Zetec-S's all have a metallic grey finish which is much easier on the eye. The Puma has unique silver trim, but in my opinion this doesn't look too good on a Phase 1 car such as mine with the light grey dashboard.

Fitting the instrument cowl involves removing 3 screws, 1 is hidden by a blanking plug near the center vents. Installing the heater panel involves removing the head unit to gain access to 2 screws. The unit then slots out.

Sport model steering wheel and gear knob

Sport model steering wheel and gear knob

The sport model wheel is half leather and the gear knob has a grey insert to match the dashboard trim. My stock wheel was all plastic and the gear knob insert was black.

The gear knob simply screws into place. Fitting the wheel entails removing the airbag which is secured from the rear of the wheel. Remove the steering column cowl to gain access to the securing fittings. Once the airbag is removed a single 15mm nut secures the steering wheel.

Sport model instrument cluster

Sport model instrument cluster

My car had a black faced cluster with no tacho. Fortunately, on Mk5 Fiesta's the wiring is already in place for the higher spec version.

Fitting is straightforward requiring only a Phillips screwdriver. The top dash trim needs to be removed (which usually results in a broken clip at the bottom so get a spare), along with the top half of the steering column cowl. Once the cowl is off remove the column switchgear to aid access to 4 screws securing the dials.


Vented discs with matching calipers

260mm Vented discs with matching calipers

Mk4 & 5 1.3's are fitted with solid discs. Although considerably thicker than Mk3 discs which were prone to problems I do a lot of motorway miles and prefer the consistent performance of vented discs.

Vented discs must be fitted together with the vented type calipers. My discs & calipers came from a Mk5 Zetec-S. The 260mm vented brake assemblies remained basically unchanged from the Mk5 Escort right through to the Zetec-S Fiesta, and all will bolt straight on.

Zetec-S Suspension springs - Front

Zetec-S Suspension springs

The Mk5 Fiesta range comes from the factory with excellent handling however, the non sport models still suffer from mild body roll. The Zetec-S is renowned for having excellent handling and road holding therefore I looked to this model for replacement springs.

Physically, the ZS front springs measure 20mm shorter than their 1300 equivalents with the rears being identical. The spring rates are different between the two models and this is achieved in part by tighter (more) coils on the spring.

Zetec-S Suspension springs - Rear

As with most cars, the springs are identified with a colour code. 1300 front springs are Blue/Violet whilst the Zetec-S is Blue/Orange/Yellow. The rear 1300 springs are Light blue/Grey and the ZS has Red/Red.

Fitting is straightforward at both ends. The rear spring cups are held in place with a circlip that can be removed once the spring is compressed. The front's are also straightforward, although the spring cup retaining nut was seized on one side and took some heat to remove.

I am very happy with the end result, the ride is firmer yet still comfortable.

The finished article

© Mark Stewart, Saturday 15th January 2005
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