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.....who had a few Festas up for grabs - including this slightly rusty-looking black Mkl XR2, which caught Owain's eye. He recalls: "I knew it would be perfect, so I asked how much she was after. She said 'make me an offer', and it went back and forth like this for ages. In the end, she eventually let me have it for two boxes of Creme Eggs!"
So, congratulating himself on a good bit of haggling, Owain drove his £2 blue oval straight home and into the MoT centre, where, unbelievably, it passed. Owain knew he wanted to put the crossflow (and Bil-steins) into his new acquisition, but couldn't bare to waste a useable engine. So in true rally style, he took her out and thrashed the arse off her for a few weeks, until finally she blew. And with the old and weedy 84 bhp, 1598cc lump now finally dead and buried, it was time to get the XR2 shell ready to rally and to receive the real deal Kent unit.
With the help of his mate and co-driver Chris, and the Fiesta Group Two Rally Car Build manual, Owain set to work. They removed the cage that was in there, as it wasn't up to FIA- spec, and started to weld in 3 mm thick strengthening plates to mount the new cage onto. The dash was pulled out and a new cage bar put in behind it for further protection and rigidity. While in welding mode, the rest of the shell was stitch-welded where necessary, the front crossmember was double-skinned, the suspension bolts were replaced and mounts strengthened, the interior was stripped of as much weight as regulations allow, and new brake lines were fitted. In other words, they made her strong and stiff enough to rally - hard.
In addition, the bulkhead was cut back to make space for a new five-speed XR3i box, then the crossflow was taken out of the Supersport and mounted into the newly-fettled XR2 shell.
Owain recalls: "The shell was all ready to go, so we put the engine in and all was great - until it blew up before our first event of the season." Disaster. You see, the crossflow from the Mkll Escort isn't mounted transversely as it is in the Fiesta, where it can suffer from oil surge -in this case leaving the number four big end bearing looking like a rainbow. When it comes to crossflows, heat equals dead engine.
But in true rally style, the never-say-die attitude prevailed and Owain was swiftly on the phone to Richard at Vegantune in London for a swift rebuild, with one month to go until his next event......
Standard XR2 shell, vented and pinned bonnet, Mkll carbon look wing mirrors, Hella 3000 pod lights with 130W bulbs, 'climate pack' folding front quarter windows.
1660cc Kent crossflow, dry sumped with Cosworth high capacity, high pressure oil pump, fully lightened and balanced crank, flywheel and conrods, Hepolite pistons, full race Vulcan-style gas-flowed head with stainless steel inserts in seats, phospl bronze valve guides, Paul Ivey stainle valves, Kent 244 camshaft timed to 105 degrees, 38 DGAS carb, KftN air filter, four-branch manifold, home-made 2.25 inch exhaust with Rolls Royce centre section, uprated fuel pump, Malpassi fuel pressure regulator, front mount oil cooler, Lumenition electronic ignition system with twin coils, 130 bhp at 6400 rpm.
XR3i five-speed manual with limited-differential.
Bilstein springs and dampers, modified negative camber rear axle, XR3i CV joints, FIA-approved six-point Safety Devices roll cage, DIY rear strut brace.
Godspeed Extreme drilled, grooved anc vented discs with RS Turbo callipers, Mintex pads, standard rear drums with Mkll XR2i fly-off handbrake cable, braided hoses, 5.1 fluid.
Wheels And Tyres
6x14 inch Compomotive MOs with 18 Michelin Pilot tyres.
Cobra Clubman bucket seats, Luke racing four-point harnesses, RS500 Cosworth steering wheel, Alloy Momo competition gearknob, extra rev counter, oil pressure guage, full roll cage, fire extinguisher.
Middle-Left - Twin coil set-up is an old rallying trick in case one packs up mid-event. Note big oil catch-tank (right).
Bottom-Left - 1700 crossflow let go just before Owain's first event. Resulting Vegantune rebuild now gives a nice 130 bhp.