I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I met someone who doesn't have at least a tiny soft spot for a fast Ford. Over the course of more than fifty years, they've come to represent the poetic notion of the blue-collar, salt of the earth, hard-grafting blokes and lady-blokes standing up and giving the silver-spoon aristocracy of the car world a bloody good kicking.
Alright, I'll be the first to admit that hot versions of Uncle Henry's mainstream cars haven't always been consistently great. The XR3i Cabrio for instance, probably sounded much better when they dreamed it up than it ever was in practice. Even so, there's still just something slightly rebellious about a striped-and-spoilered Ford that is very alluring.
The thing is though, whilst some of the fast Fords of recent times have been amongst the best ever made, they're still new enough to be too expensive for many of us. With that in mind, I set myself a maximum budget of £5000, and once again jumped into the online classifieds to find out if you can still get a fast Ford that you'd want to own for a reasonable price. Here's what I found!
INSTEAD OF A FIESTA ST... A FIESTA ST!
First up, an example of what is perhaps one of the forgotten fast Fords of recent years, the original Fiesta ST.
In hindsight it is kind of easy to see why this sporty version of the Mk6, which was produced between 2004 and 2008, was rather eclipsed by the brilliant Mk7 version which must surely rank as one of the greatest hot hatches of all time.
However, this earlier model still has much to commend it. Fans of natural aspiration will be pleased to hear that unlike later versions, this ST isn't turbocharged. Okay, the 2.0 litre 148 horsepower engine is from a Mondeo, but in the lightweight Fiesta you can punt it around all day on a surfeit of meaty torque. The chassis is sweet and although the handling isn't as deft as a contemporary Clio 182, the Fiesta is a more civilised, grown-up affair that makes a great little daily-driver hot hatch.
With that in mind, I plucked THIS example from Auto Trader. Looking sharp in the ST's signature Performance Blue, this car forgoes the optional racing stripes and is all the better for it. With a full history, two previous owners and a mere 40,500 miles under its belt, this ST looks to be a great value example that you could run for many years to come. The price? A very attractive £3995!
INSTEAD OF A MUSTANG GT... A MUSTANG GT!
Have you always wanted to own a Mustang? Yep, secretly, I have too. The introduction of the right-hand drive Mustang to the UK back in 2015 hasn't helped matters either. Every time I see one of these big bruisers rumbling along the street I feel the pangs of desire from deep within.
Unfortunately, I don't quite have the £40,595 that a Mustang GT would currently set you back at your friendly neighbourhood Ford dealer. If you're in the same boat as me, don't despair! As is often the case, eBay have a ready and willing alternative.
Here we have a 1997 Ford Mustang GT Coupe. The first thing you need to know about this car is that it is for sale, today, with a price tag of just £4500. The second thing that you need to know is that this is not the limp-wristed base model V6, nor is it sullied by a power-sapping (and possibly communist) automatic transmission. No sir, this is the gen-u-ine Big Mac and large fries 4.6-litre V8 teamed with God's own five-speed manual gearbox.
The 90's Mustang is never going to win any beauty pageants, I'll grant you. It isn't offensive though, and though the 215bhp of the stock V8 isn't much by the standards of 2018, that lazy old pushrod motor is legendarily tune-able. Being an import, you'll be stuck with left-hand drive too, but hey, you'll forget all about that the first time you hear that V8 burble. Fancy a slice of American Pie? You can check the Mustang out HERE
INSTEAD OF AN ESCORT RS COSWORTH... AN ESCORT RS2000!
Okay, okay. I know what you're thinking! The Escort Cosworth and the contemporary RS2000 are about as closely related as me and Bradley Cooper. The 'Cozza' is little more than a Sierra Cosworth in an Escort-shaped muscle suit, whilst the RS2000 is a much tamer beast.
Lets face facts though. Escort Cosworth prices are currently crazily high. Great news if you own one, not so great if you want to buy one. The fact that you can still buy any RS-badged Ford for less than £5k is something that should be celebrated, so let's take a closer look at what we have here.
Named for the heroic Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts that to this day pound rally stages across the globe, the RS2000 was the follow-up to the asthmatic and disappointing Escort XR3i. The early 90's was a bit of a low-period for mainstream hot hatches, but in 1993 VW had finally given their Mk3 Golf GTi a decent power upgrade with the 150bhp 16-valve, and Vauxhall were hot on their heels with the similarly potent Astra GSi.
Ford knew that the new RS2000 needed to be good, and fortunately for them it mostly was. The two-litre DOHC engine was unrelated to the unexciting Zetec lump in the XR3, and was butch enough to punt the RS to 60 in a smidge under 8 seconds and on to a respectable 130 miles per hour. The Mk5 Escort was criticised by many when new for stodgy handling, but the RS2000 incorporated many of the small chassis and suspension tweaks that eventually found their way into the original Focus. On the road it's sure-footed and brutish, it won't win many drag races but from point-to-point on British country roads the RS can be an effective weapon.
For the ultimate in grip-and-go performance you could even spec your RS2000 with four wheel drive. However these cars are even more rare these days than their FWD brethren, and it's one of those standard cars that has piqued my interest today. An honest-looking 1996 example in Radiant Red which is currently on eBay looking for a good home at £3995. These things aren't going to be this cheap forever, so get one whilst you can!
INSTEAD OF A CAPRI... A COUGAR!
Here's one for the real bargain hunters out there! This largely-forgotten but striking-looking gem is the Ford Cougar V6. Launched in 1998 as a replacement for the slow-selling and disgustingly-named Probe, the Cougar was billed as a Capri for the 21st century. The only problem was that the 21st century had pretty much decided they didn't want a Capri. Coupés were on their way out. Vauxhall had killed off their Calibra, VW had dumped the Corrado, and it wouldn't be long before Honda's Prelude had its life support switched off.
The dot-com boomers loss though, can now be your gain. Because here is a 140 MPH, leather-lined, two-door GT with a long MOT and a fresh service for less than £1000. It's got a boot bigger than Birmingham, and because it's 'only' a Ford, it won't break the bank when it comes to parts and servicing in the future. What's not to love?
Just like the original Capri, the Cougar was heavily based on a mundane Ford family saloon, the Mondeo, and inherited its mechanicals from its sister car. You could have a standard two-litre, or for a few quid more, a top-spec 170bhp 2.5 V6 like the car you see here. Unlike its famous ancestor the Cougar is front-wheel drive, but the handling is tidy and the ride comfort is excellent, especially in those brilliantly comfy seats.
Negatives? Well, even in the 90's we thought the dashboard was fairly nasty, and being an old V6 it does drink its fair share of unleaded. Will it ever be a classic like the Capri? I doubt it, but if like THIS one, it sets you back just £995, who really cares?