You might think that, when it comes to popular UK colour choices for a new mainstream car, there wouldn’t be all that much variation over the years.
And you’d be right to think that. The same five colours come up time after time. Well, by colours we mean grey, black and white, the three most-chosen hues in the UK in 2019.
Why are the British so partial to non-colours? There’s probably some deep psychological reason which Shed can’t be bothered to delve into here. What’s more interesting to him is red, which for quite a while now has only just been clinging on to last place in the top five.
Once, just about every sportily-inclined small Ford was red. Today’s Shed, a Mk5 ST150, brings back those gaudy times in a good way. In fact, the vendor has gone to some lengths to maximise the redness. The parts that aren't red have been changed to enhance the contrast. Everything that was grey is now black, and everything that was silver is now white.
The overall effect is quite fetching. Not everyone will approve of Henry’s trademark blue being wiped off both Ford badges, but you can’t deny the car’s overall condition. It looks as bright as a button. There’s no service history, which is a shame, but the slowly-accumulated mileage is fully backed up by the MOTs, and going by the appearance it’s easy to believe the owner’s claim that no expense has been spared in its upkeep. Until an advisory came up last year for a corroded brake pipe, which is hardly a deal breaker, rust had never been mentioned on any MOT reports.
We had one of these ST150s in SOTW a few months ago. That ’07 example was £1,450 but it was nowhere near as clean as this ’05 car. As noted then, the ST150’s 150hp Mondeo Duratec 2.0 motor and 1,137kg weight delivered 129mph, a 7.9sec 0-60mph time and average mpg figures in the mid 30s, with low 40s easily achievable on runs.
Compared to a regular Fiesta the ST had quicker steering and stronger brakes. The standard Fiesta chassis was really sorted, and the ST’s (developed on British country roads) was described by Autocar as “so friendly that inexperienced drivers can approach its limits without fear”. Some road testers weren’t that impressed by the steering, but this car has been lowered which should give you a more planted feel on smoother roads, albeit probably at the expense of some ride comfort, of which there wasn’t much to start with.
The absence of a turbo means you have to try a bit harder for performance gains on these STs, but doing simple breathing mods is a really worthwhile exercise. £250 or so will get you a 10hp gain from a Superchips remap. Already in place here are an induction kit and a Milltek exhaust. Unsteady low-rpm running is an ST foible that can be remedied by the addition of a 60mm throttle body for £450 or so, or more cheaply in the short run at least by filling up from the posh pump.
The five-speed close-ratio box doesn’t have a spotless reliability record, and not having a sixth cog makes the chain-timed Duratec work hard at higher speeds, but hopefully the noise from the Milltek will drown out the engine din. One PHer responding to the last ST Shed mentioned a wonky throttle position sensor throwing up warning lights and a £400 repair bill.
One common ST fault was the fragile seat tipping mechanism (which this car has). Molegrips are your friend in times of need, or as the vendor says you can just order your passengers to get in on the passenger side until that seat’s handle or wire goes. Which it will.
All in all though the ST was a nice alternative to a hot Clio, 206 GTI or Mini Cooper S. Some would prefer an ST170 Focus, but they’re not all that in Shed’s opinion. This Fiesta looks really good, even with the MOT expiring next month.
Going back to the question of colour, in Shed’s courting days that was the medium through which you expressed your personality. Shed’s colour was plum metalflake, not just for his Ford Anglia and Norton Commando 850 but also for all his leathers and safety gear. Mrs Shed was a much more manageable size back then and would regularly hop on the back of the Commando for a burn around the hills. She longs for another close-up view of Shed’s big purple helmet but quietly accepts that those days may have gone.