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Shed of the Week: Ford Fiesta ST

Massive popularity has typically kept the Fiesta ST from Shed country - until now

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, April 19, 2019

Shed is a firm believer in the principle of walking the walk, not just talking the talk. If he went round the place telling you lot to buy old bangers that he wouldn’t touch with a three-condom bargepole, he would never be able to sleep at night. Obviously Mrs Shed’s corpse-revivingly loud snoring means he doesn’t sleep much at night anyway, but it’s a metaphor innit. The thing is, when shopping for his own vehicles, Shed himself rarely ventures out of the SOTW-qualifying ‘£1500 or less’ range.

Anyway, in the course of some light browsing for a new parts-shifting wagon that might also double up as comfy (and cheap to run) everyday transport, he came across an ’09 Mondeo TDCi 140 Zetec estate at £1,495.

Nothing remarkable about that, you might say. Cheap for the year, maybe? Otherwise, meh. Then you see the mileage: 460,000. Knocking on for half a million miles. Looking at the pics, you would never believe it. The only advisories on the January MOT were slight play on one track rod end and one numberplate bulb out. Surely it would be worth buying this magnificent motoring equivalent of Trigger’s broom if only for the pleasure of being able to show people the numbers on the odo and then spin them lots of tales about how you accumulated the distance.

The point of this preamble is to help Ford haters – of which there are many – to believe in the long-term worthiness of what they might perceived as a thrashed and abused Mk6 (or more accurately Mk5 with the 2006 facelift) Fiesta ST at Shed money. We’ve never featured one of these little chaps here, mainly because they’ve always been beyond our £1,500 limit, but now they're coming into range, as this £1,450 example proves.

For those who don't know, the ST used a 150 Mondeo Duratec motor to deliver a 130mph top speed, a 7.8sec 0-60mph time and mixed-driving mpg figures in the low to mid 30s. Its steering was 10 per cent quicker than the standard Fiesta’s. Its bespoke 278mm front discs wore Focus ST170 calipers.

Compared to the standard Fiesta, the (not especially light, at 1,137kg) ST had 45 per cent stiffer front springs and a 38 per cent stiffer twist beam at the back, albeit with unchanged coil spring rates. As a result, the ride on 17-inch 205/40 tyres wasn’t what you’d call plush, but then that wasn’t what the ST was about. It was something you bought if you didn’t fancy a Clio Cup, a Mini Cooper S or a 206 GTI. Unusually perhaps, the Peugeot was the car against which the Ford was benchmarked, maybe because it was a lot easier to beat than the Clio.

In a Top Gear track faceoff with Clarkson driving the ST, Hammond said while driving a Citroen C2 that the Ford as a hot hatch for fat people from the 1980s. On another motoring prog, Tiff Needell didn’t rate the fact that the ST pedals wouldn’t allow him to heel and toe, and he wasn’t the only crit to be less than impressed by the steering. On the other hand, Needell did seem to enjoy the car’s ability to generate untidy lift-off oversteer when the ESP was switched off – and Clarkson did win that race.

There are plenty of tuning possibilities to make the ST a little more Sports Technologies-ish, although you are slightly hamstrung by the fact that this is not a turbocharged engine, so improvements are harder won. A Superchips remap will add around 10hp and 10lb ft of torque for around £250. A decent cold-air induction system will liberate slightly more power for around £300, and a new 60mm throttle body at £450 or so will steady down the standard car’s wobbly idle, which can be aggravating when parking and suchlike.

For bigger money you can fit a full Milltek exhaust for £1,100 or so, or take the power past the 300hp mark by bolting on a Rotrex supercharger – that will be the thick end of £3.5-£4k. In addition to all the above, Ford aftermarket specialists Mountune have a mountain of options for you to survey.

Whether you’re tuning an ST or not, even with Shed’s uplifting story of 460,000-mile Mondeos ringing in your ears, or indeed eyes, you might find it difficult to set aside those niggling concerns about Ford unreliability. It is true that the Mk6 Fiesta does have its issues, just like any other cheap car. But there is plenty of good news about the ST too, like the unstressed robustness of its cam-chain engine. The chains will eventually slacken off and make a din, but you can quickly counteract that by fitting progressively noisier exhausts.

The five-speed close-ratio ST gearboxes didn't flatter the relatively coarse Duratec motor at higher speeds, and they have been known to blow up in fairly spectacular fashion, but there’s no set pattern or expectation on that: you might be lucky or you might not. Brake pipes seem to be made from some kind of baking foil derivative so it’s always worth checking those.

Front seat folding mechanisms of three-door Fiestas from this era are famous for playing up, either because the tilt handle has broken or one of the wires from that handle has snapped. Either way it’s a fiddly thing to fix. Your alternatives are (1) the always-classy molegrip mend, or (2) refusing to let anyone get in the back.

The ads from this particular vendor tend to annoy PHers who never like to read ‘part exchange to clear’ banners over used car pics. In today’s fake nooz times nobody is ever quite sure what’s going on, but the feedback for this outfit is actually pretty good and according to the pics on their website they do appear to have won more than one ‘used car dealer of the year’ award.

Someone might like to have a quick squint at their ad blurbs though. The idea of an ‘integrated sports fog light’ is a bit peculiar. Driving in a sporting manner in foggy conditions sounds like a blinding idea, but not in a good way.

Being charitable, you can understand why dealers in low-value cars have to cover themselves through the small print, what with everybody being an expert and/or a backroom barrister these days. And let’s be fair, for ‘piece of mind’ (ermm) it’s good to know that the absence of an additional warranty policy does not ‘effect your statuary rights’.

Shed once went into the local garden centre to pick up a one-tonne marble Buddha, only to be told that he’d need building regs permission to proceed with his plan of balancing it on a stylish plywood display plinth panel-pinned directly above Mrs Shed’s bedroom door. Damn those statuary rights.

Click here to see the full ad.

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