Top 10 Fast Ford Fails

2y ago


From the original Escort Twin Cam to the latest Focus RS, Ford's built some game-changing fast cars...and a stack of other performance cars that didn't make the grade for one reason or another. Here's your top 10 Fast Ford Fails

1. Mondeo ST24

Ford’s chassis men scored a bullseye with the original Mondeo (the designers, on the other hand, couldn’t even hit the board), but it took a while for them to make the most of it with a quick version.

First came Si trim, available with either the 2.0 4cyl or 2.5 V6, and then a dedicated performance flagship, the V6-only ST24 (24 being the number of valves).

This was our introduction to the now-famous ST badge, but with only the same 170hp as other V6 Mondeos, it wasn’t as quick as a Vectra GSi or Accord Type R, forcing Ford to introduce the much better ST200 soon after.

2. Mk6 Escort Mexico

It would be easy (and justifiable) to give the anaemic 105hp Mk5 XR3i or dull-witted Mk3 Fiesta XR2i a kicking, but they’re too obvious, and there are other villains. Like this one.

The original Mk1 Mexico was a proper RS1600 - Type 49 shell and all - with the fragile twin-cam motor replaced by a less powerful, but hardy 1600 Cortina lump to ensure it lasted the distance in brutal rally conditions.

So shame on Ford for pimping out its good name to cash in on our fond memories with this lame anniversary special edition that was nothing more than a LX with a couple of badges - and powered by a 90hp 1.6 that made a pathetic 4hp more than the 1970 original.

3. Puma Racing

Despite looking like its nappy hadn’t been emptied for a week the regular Fiesta-based Puma was so good that the harder, faster, wider Puma Racing should have been mega.

And it was, up to a point. The handling was incredible and there was a useful slug of extra power from the tweaked Yamaha 1.7 motor.

But really it needed more than the 155hp it got, and at £22k the hot Puma was racing into Lotus Elise and Impreza Turbo territory. Sales didn’t get close to the planned 1000.

4. Focus ST170

If Ford had released the ST170 in ’98 with the first wave of Focus models, things could’ve been so much different. Back then, its 170hp would have been on the money and it could have caused Peugeot’s ageing 306 GTi-6 a bit of a headache.

But instead, Ford released the ST170 in 2001 - right after we’d already got ourselves into a lather over Honda’s 200hp and 1sec-to-62mph-quicker Civic Type R. A good car, but three years too late.

5. Sierra XR4i

A decent fast Ford in its own right, but sold in far fewer number than Ford hoped, and has lived so far in the shadow of its Cossie brother for so many years it had to drive around with a white cane attached to the front bumper.

The short-lived 4i was rear-drive and powered by a naturally-aspirated 150hp 2.8 Cologne V6. But it was soon replaced by two cars: the more practical five-door (and four-wheel drive) XR4x4i that used the same engine, and the more famous turbo’d Cosworth featuring 204hp turbo power and an even BIGGER rear wing.

6. Probe

Even a good car would have struggled to overcome a name this bad - or an association with Steve Coogan’s awful salesman, Gareth Cheeseman.

But although it looked slick, the Probe wasn’t a good car, not with rivals like the Honda Prelude and VW Corrado ready to pick it apart.

7. Cougar

A coupe version of the world’s best handling family saloon promoted by an advertising campaign featuring Dennis ‘Easy Rider’ Hopper? The Cougar should have been a smash.

Unfortunately it looked like a steamrolled Ka, didn’t handle quite as sharply as we'd hoped, and Ford never built the ST or RS version it was crying out for.

8. Escort RS1700T

Everyone’s heard of the mid-engined RS200 Group B racer, what about the RS1700T? It was the result of a radical early-1980s plan to turn the new front-drive Mk3 Escort into a rear-drive rally weapon.

But with the project close to launch and 18 prototypes already built Ford made a U-turn, deciding it needed a four-wheel drive car to be competitive. The RS1700T was canned, but many of its parts, including the Cosworth BDT engine, did get re-used in its RS200 replacement.

9. Ford Mustang II King Cobra

This one falls outside our normal '80s-'00 New Era timeframe, but it's so brilliantly awful it's hard to ignore, and it's only fair that Ford's US division should share in the Fast Ford Fails kicking.

This wasn't all Ford's fault - by the late 1970s smog legislation and crippling insurance rates had decimated power outputs, and for a few years you couldn't actually buy a Mustang with a V8.

When it came back it had less than 140hp, and despite what the graphics promised, this fang-less Cobra struggled to break 10sec to 60mph.

10. Streetka

A great chassis and a fun first foot on the performance car ladder for young drivers.

But just think how much better the Sportka would have been if that tighter-than-Kim's-thigh-gap gearshift had connected you to a properly rev-hungry engine with more than 95hp.

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