M-Sport has created a one-off Fiat Panda rally car
It's powered by a Ford Fiesta R5 powertrain and is the first in a new line of bespoke vehicles
M-Sport is a racing team best known for its mighty rally machines. Boasting Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz Snr. amongst its former drivers and Haas F1 Team team principal Guenther Steiner amongst its former staff, it's a team that's been at the sharp end of the World Rally Championship for a long time now. It also previously ran Bentley's works outfit for GT racing. Now M-Sport is branching out into the world of low-volume specials and its first offering in this regard is a one-off Fiat Panda rally car!
Reportedly built for a currently unnamed client who wanted a machine that could contest on both tarmac and gravel rallies, it was created by taking a standard road-going Mark 1 Fiat Panda and modifying it to within an inch of its life. The old Panda chassis and powertrain was completely scrapped and replaced with that of the Ford Fiesta R5 rally car. As a result, the car now has a 1.6-litre Ford Ecoboost petrol engine that delivers just under 300 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. This goes to all four wheels via a Sadev 5-speed sequential gearbox. In a car as small and light as a Panda, that's a recipe for some seriously epic performance!
On the inside of the car, the dashboard has been kept fairly close to that of the original design from the Mark 1 Panda. All the typical FIA-mandated safety features such as a roll cage and 6-point harnesses have been installed and the rear seats have been removed to make space for the spare wheels.
To get the Panda's bodyshell to work with the Fiesta chassis, it had to be widened by 360 mm (hence the massive Group B-style arches). M-Sport reckons that making the Panda's body shell wider has actually improved the handling as a consequence. I guess the unnamed client will have to find that out when they finally take this car for a spin!
"I am blown away by what we have been able to achieve," M-Sport's director Matthew Wilson said. "I was very fortunate to complete the car’s shakedown and put it through its paces; not only is it amazing to look at, it drives very well too. It has been a very interesting project from an engineering point of view."
"It has provided M-Sport the perfect springboard to launch M-Sport Special Vehicles, highlighting that we are geared up and ready to accept new clients with unique commissions of their own," Wilson continued. "M-Sport Special Vehicles, or ‘MS-SV’, is our new bespoke car building service which is only possible thanks to the opening and introduction of our new test track and manufacturing facility that are within the Dovenby Hall Estate."
One thing's for sure; this Fiat Panda is going to be absolutely mental and it looks like it's going to have a few equally mental cousins in the not too distant future!