December 6, 2022

Tobias Arkell regularly engineered his beloved Fiesta XR2i till he created this monster-spec, turbocharged ST170 engined, RWD animal – and it’s all been inbuilt his shed…

Function from Quick Ford journal. Images: Jason Dodd.

Nice Britain has a historical past of blokes in sheds churning out world-beating engineering masterpieces – it’s in our DNA, it’s why seven of the ten present Components One groups have bases in Britain, and finally, it’s how we received the warfare. The person tinkering in his shed is an archetypical British phenomenon.

However in an age the place every little thing is digital you could suppose that man-in-a-shed spirit has been changed with computer-aided pristine white workshops, forsaking the outdated beardy-weirdies to twirl their Whitworth spanners on some outdated traditional piece of junk that by no means truly labored within the first place.

However, fortunately, the world nonetheless has folks like Tobias Arkell. Sure, he does have a beard, and hailing from deepest, darkest Cornwall, some might say he’s a bit bizarre – however he possess that oh-so-British need to tinker. And he’s clearly acquired fairly the knack for it, as proved by wheeling this immaculate-yet-crazy, RWD Fiesta XR2i full with a turbocharged ST170 engine out of the shed it was inbuilt.

Tobias tells us how it began: “I acquired the automobile on my 18th birthday as a gift to myself again in 2011 – a real one-lady-owner-from-new XR2i with simply 63,000 miles on the clock.”

Rising up, our man was all the time destined to be a Blue Oval proprietor, thanks isn’t any small half to Uncle Robert and his Graham Goode-tuned Sapphire Cosworth. With a punchy YB fettled by a well-known RS500 racer, an ideal stance, and baggage of efficiency, teenage Tobias wished his new buy to observe within the footsteps of the automobile that fashioned his love for quick Fords.

Tobias shortly realised he wasn’t going to get the efficiency he wished from the CVH, so a swap to a full 16-valve Zetec quickly happened. However not any outdated Zetec; Tobias fitted throttle our bodies and ran it on a Megasquirt ECU hooked as much as a CTS Stage 2 ‘field with Quaife ATB diff improve.

RWD Fiesta XR2i

At simply 18 years outdated, that’s fairly a weapon, however while you’re doing journeys to Spa and Nürburgring alongside mates in Cosworths and RS Fords, the lure of a turbocharger to maintain up is all the time going to be onerous to withstand. Too onerous for Tobias, whose engineering-led mind went into overdrive on the considered including some pressured induction to proceedings.

Tobias remembers, “I began to discover a love for making my very own components or modifying elements to go well with.

“Being an engineer by commerce I had learnt tips on how to TIG weld, so I purchased myself an inexpensive TIG and began doing a little bits at dwelling – stuff like modifying a Crazycage exhaust manifold to reposition the turbo flange the place I wished it to mount. This led to {custom} increase pipes and a {custom} inlet too.”

RWD Fiesta XR2i

Regardless of all of the monumental efforts getting the automobile operating with the brand new Zetec turbo engine in situ, Tobias used the automobile solely a handful of occasions in that spec (“As my mate Kurt usually likes to remind me,” laughs Tobias) as a result of the gearbox by no means appeared pleased.

That’s the place the story takes a twist – fairly actually, via 90 levels.

“I’d pulled the engine and gearbox out to switch one other damaged FWD field, and that’s once I got here throughout a function in Quick Ford on a rear-wheel-drive Mk1 Fiesta. My dad got here in with a cuppa – his approach of checking up on me and what I’m doing – and mentioned, ‘why don’t you do this?’ With the engine swinging on the crane, I’d already began measuring up for a transmission tunnel earlier than he’d completed his tea,” laughs Tobias.

The place to begin was discovering an appropriate rear-drive gearbox; one that will be slim sufficient to fit neatly beneath a {custom} transmission tunnel however would additionally have the ability to deal with the abuse from a highly-tuned turbocharged Zetec. The reply got here within the form of a Mazda RX8 unit.


A few of the traditional’s boys have been utilizing these to good impact, however Tobias couldn’t resist opening one up and having slightly tinker.

“I’m utilizing an RX8 gearbox with RX7 bearings and my very own machined baffle plate so as to add energy, in addition to some oil capability,” he smirks. “After talking to some RX8 gearbox customers and chatting about failures (fourth gear specifically appears to be a difficulty) I made a decision to strip mine down and located that each one the bearings are sealed items.

RWD Fiesta XR2i

“I then came upon that folks use the RX7 (FD3) gearbox in high-power purposes with none issues; it has open-face bearings, that means the oil can move via and help cooling. So, I transformed my RX8 ‘field to run the RX7 bearings – which, because it seems, match completely with none machining.”

On the again finish, a trusty English axle has been full of an aggressive 3J Driveline NXG limited-slip diff (with 45/45 ramp angles, and a severely heavy pre-load), a 3J alloy entrance snout, and 3J 18-spline halfshafts.

Connecting the 2 is a flowery carbon-fibre propshaft. “I acquired fortunate with that,” Tobias admits. “It’s from an RX8. After I supplied it up, by sheer fluke it had the right quantity of float. I did modify some Land Rover Defender universal-joints, although, so I might use a bigger Atlas axle drive flange on the diff.”

With the automobile stripped, your entire Fiesta shell was totally stitch-welded – a strategy of strengthening each appear with a sample of one-inch weld adopted by one-inch hole all the best way round. On the identical time, Tobias strengthened the entrance chassis rails with {custom} reinforcing plates and raised and redesigned the strut tops to go well with the camber-adjustable mounts this XR2i now wears.

And that’s earlier than we get to the plain stuff like custom-fabricating a transmission tunnel. Tobias explains, “I minimize and fabricated a full tunnel to the rear, after which raised and strengthened the boot flooring and strut towers and added a welded-in cross brace. I’ve additionally moved the bulkhead again to attempt to get the load distribution of the engine and transmission way back to potential with out affecting the inside an excessive amount of.”

Comparable proof of not eager to lose sight of the XR2i’s origins might be discovered with the rear finish. After all, no Fiesta ever got here with an English axle from the manufacturing unit, however Tobias has employed a {custom} six-link setup that retains the unique XR2i geometry.

RWD Fiesta XR2i

“It took me weeks to provide you with it – I scaled the arms down, and even used lollipop sticks to examine that it might all work in unison and the axle would journey via the movement appropriately,” says Tobias.

It’s an identical story on the entrance: Sierra hubs modified to remove bump-steer be part of rose-jointed Fiesta RS1800-style wishbones on a {custom} subframe with the steering rack (constituted of a Sierra quick-rack with Volvo tie arms and rose-jointed ends) mounted in entrance of the engine. Rotating the engine itself via 90 levels was comparatively easy, and a few no-nonsense chassis mounts maintain all of it in the precise place.

Ah, the engine. We’ve actually saved the very best for final. Based mostly on a real Mountune CGi (carbon graphite-impregnated) block that you just’d usually discover on the Focus WRC vehicles {that a} sure Mr McRae used to drive, Tobias then additional machined issues to his personal spec.

“The block was decked by 0.6mm to work with the specified compression ratio, and I additionally drilled and tapped the pinnacle studs to just accept bigger M12s – very nerve-racking, contemplating how uncommon the block is,” admits Tobias.

Inside the flowery block lives a set of Mk1 Focus RS H-section conrods from PEC and a set of secret Phil Reeve-spec pistons, however Tobias couldn’t resist placing his personal stamp on issues.

“The rods have been balanced to inside 0.1g between them utilizing my home-made jig. I machined the pistons so as to add valve pockets for clearance to permit the VVT to work, lateral fuel ports, forced-pin oiling, and accumulator grooves – all achieved on my little toolmaker’s mill and lathe at dwelling,” Tobias confesses.

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On prime of all that you just’ll discover an ST170 cylinder head (ported by Tobias himself, naturally) whereas the notoriously weak oil pump has been changed with an externally mounted unit meaning Tobias can retain the moist sump system however with out worry of the oil pump exploding.

The spectacular exhaust manifold was custom-made by Tobias from chrome steel and options 1.25in headers with a forged collector that features a twin-scroll design and twin exterior wastegates.

Tobias explains, “I went with a bottom-mount turbo manifold design, as I like the outdated Zakspeed vehicles with their loopy manifolds and the way they have been bottom-mounted.”

The turbo itself is a Holset unit; initially discovered on a Cummins generator, it’s been modified by Compressor Racing to create what’s a hybrid HX35, or – because it’s known as – an RS321. Off the again of the turbo, Tobias has made a 4in downpipe that tapers to three.5in after which to 3in for the remainder of the exhaust system.

The dual exterior wastegates are good and small, so that they work effectively in such a good engine bay. Tobias has linked the retailers of each ‘gates so that they exit by way of a neat little 2.5in outwardly rolled tip exiting from the passenger aspect of the entrance bumper.

On the opposite aspect of the engine, the inlet manifold is one other one-off. Tobias explains, “Many individuals don’t consider it, however the inlet is my very own {custom} construct. I based mostly it on an RS200 manifold – the Ford emblem comes from an RS1600i manifold that I minimize the highest off, whereas inside it’s acquired 25mm-high trumpets to encourage higher circulate. The plenum can be linked to the Jenvey 48mm throttle our bodies from my N/A engines, though I’ve minimize the ends off and welded on thicker flanges, and adjusted the seals to double lip seals too”

A {custom} cooling bundle includes an Airtec RS500 intercooler (albeit mounted the other way up and dealing with 2.5in stable increase pipes), an Airtec Cosworth 60mm radiator (modified with AN16 circulate and return fittings) with twin 11in followers, and a 15-row thermostatically managed oil cooler.

A Toyota Yaris has donated its coil-on-plugs, which Tobias mounted utilizing a {custom} adapter plate. Lastly, the entire thing is managed by an ECUMaster Black engine administration system – which Tobias is pleased to map himself.

RWD Fiesta XR2i

“I’m nonetheless studying for positive, however this ECU is so user-friendly, particularly because the algorithm wanted for the complication of throttle our bodies and a turbo isn’t the simplest to get my head round,” he admits.

The automobile was operating and, on the highway, final yr, but it surely was short-lived. Tobias explains, “I had a difficulty with the alternator bracket, which brought about the auxiliary belt to warmth up and snap. Sadly, this occurred on the worst time – when it snapped, it whipped round and took out my oil pump drive belt at 8500rpm and 20psi of increase.

“Consequently, this led to a full engine rebuild, however I don’t see it as a nasty factor as a result of it gave me a chance to do the modifications to the new-spec pistons, in addition to utterly rebuilding the gearbox to the next spec, and including some additional mods that I wished too.”

And that units the tone with this RWD Fiesta XR2i undertaking, actually. With Tobias’s fixed urge to enhance and develop, this Fiesta goes to proceed to evolve over the following ten years too.

In truth, Tobias has already mentioned he needs to construct his personal pedal field and alter the entrance wishbone setup so he can run wider entrance wheels. Then he’s acquired eyes on a Quaife sequential gearbox, the place he plans to hook up a pneumatic shift system.

So, the following time you make a journey out within the sticks to someplace like Cornwall, preserve a watch out for a person in a shed – they nonetheless exist, and the following one may also be constructing a cover-worthy quick Ford…

Tech Spec: RWD Fiesta XR2i with turbocharged ST170 engine


1988cc Zetec from Focus ST170, turbocharged, 8.7:1 compression ratio, Mountune CGi block (no 945), decked 0.6mm, M12 stud conversion, ARP head studs and most important studs, ST170 cylinder head skimmed 0.5mm, ported and polished, three-angle valve seats, authentic ST170-size valves with Cat Cams valve springs, authentic Focus ST170 cams, modified ST170 cam cowl with twin AN8 breathers in Lightning Blue, 0.6mm-thick head gasket, secret-spec pistons custom-machined for VVT valve pockets, 12 prime ring fuel ports, accumulator grooves, forced-pin oiling and weight matched to inside 0.1g, PEC Mk1 Focus RS conrods balanced to 0.1g, King most important and big-end bearings, authentic ST170 crankshaft, Zetec-to-Cosworth flywheel, ARP flywheel bolts, Wasp starter motor, normal backside pulley, IKE light-weight drive pulley, OPi drive pulley for OPi exterior oil pump, stud-and-nut crank retainer, engine rotationally balanced to 10,000rpm, Alfa Romeo loafer pulleys, {custom} loafer pulley retainer setup utilizing ARP bolts, normal ST170 VVT inlet timing vernier, Cat Cams ST170 dowelled exhaust vernier, ARP cam bolts, Gates kevlar timing belt, modified black-top crankcase, {custom} big-winged and baffled sump with built-in oil pickup, {custom} water pump blanking plate with AN16 becoming, Raceline water rail, {custom} thermostat housing, Airtec Cosworth 60mm radiator with AN16 fittings, Meziere WP136S electrical water pump, twin Side 11in followers on {custom} shroud, {custom} tubular twin-scroll exhaust manifold with equal headers and twin GFB 38mm exterior wastegates, 4 EGT sensors, two EMAP sensors, hybrid Holset HX35 turbo, 4in downpipe into 3in system, linked 2.5in screamer pipe, 2.5in aluminium increase pipes, Airtec 60mm RS500-style intercooler, {custom} inlet manifold based mostly on RS200 manifold, 48mm Jenvey ITBs modified with {custom} flanges and double lip seal shaft seals, {custom} billet gasoline rail, 875cc injectors, Torques Fittings gasoline strain regulator, Bosch 044 high-pressure pump, Torques gasoline filter, {custom} swirl pot, Side Purple Prime low-pressure pump, Torques thermostatic sandwich plate, 15-row AN10 oil cooler, Torques fittings and PTFE hoses used all through, Mishimoto catch-can, ECUMaster Black ECU with {custom} loom, Toyota Yaris coil-on-plugs, Denso ITV27 plugs

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Unknown at current


Transformed to rear-wheel-drive utilizing Mazda RX8 five-speed gearbox with uprated RX7 FD3 open-face bearings, billet {custom} baffle plate, {custom} RX8-to-Cosworth/Zetec adapter plate, Helix five-paddle Cosworth-size 240mm clutch, RX8 carbon fibre propshaft, modified Land Rover Defender common joints, heavy-duty Atlas axle drive flange, English axle re-sleeved with thicker axle tubes and {custom} mounting positions for six-link setup, 3J Driveline English axle aluminium diff housing, 3J 3.51 crownwheel and pinion, 3J 18-tooth NXG LSD, 3J heavy-duty halfshafts and drive flanges,{custom} heavy-duty bearing retaining plates with built-in disc brake mounts


Entrance: Gaz Gold Mk3 Fiesta coilover dampers with 250lb 7in springs, Compbrake camber-adjustable prime mounts, rose-jointed Fiesta RS1800 wishbones, Sierra hubs, {custom} subframe, {custom} blade-type anti-roll bar; rear: Gaz Gold common rose-jointed coilover dampers with 180lb 10in springs, modified Mk3 Fiesta strut tops, {custom} six-link suspension with Watt’s linkage, totally rose-jointed, modified XR2i anti-roll bar


Entrance: Wilwood Tremendous 6 six-pot callipers with 295mm discs; rear: Wilwood Dynalite four-pot callipers with 260mm discs; Compbrake Professional pedal field, Wilwood 0.65 (cu in) entrance grasp, Wilwood 0.70 (cu in) rear grasp, Compbrake hydro handbrake with 0.65 (cu in) cylinder, AN3 stainless braided strains all through

Wheels & Tyres:

Entrance: Compomotive TH 7x15in in ET40, with Nankang NS20 195/45/15 tyres; rear: Compomotive M05 8.5x15in in ET0, with Nankang NS20 205/45/15 tyres (quickly to be NS2R)


Mk3 Fiesta XR2i, resprayed Frozen White, rear arches widened 1in to accommodate wider wheels, authentic XR2i bodykit, chassis rails minimize open and strengthened, totally stitch-welded, modified bulkhead, chassis mount engine mounts, {custom} rear suspension mounting system


Customized transmission tunnel, boot flooring raised and strengthened, rear strut tower bracing, strengthening bars added all through, modified XR2i rear bench and seats to accommodate transmission tunnel, Security Gadgets Mk3 Fiesta bolt-in roll cage, authentic XR2i sprint, Racetech gauges, Mk5 Fiesta clocks (to run electrical speedo), XR2i carpet minimize to suit round tunnel, Nardi steering wheel, Corbeau Clubman bucket seats with {custom} rails, ECU fitted beneath passenger seat, full solid-state electrical administration with all {custom} wiring hidden behind the sprint, MotoGadget Blue digital management field, JAZ 56-litre gasoline cell in boot space