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Aiden Powell always knew what his first car was going to be, and now this Mk1 Fiesta Finesse is just the way he wants it.

When your Dad is well into his classic Fords and also has his own workshop, that’s always bound to be a perfect starting point for taking on any potential project. Jez Powell has worked as a painter and panel beater for decades and having owned a Mk2 Lotus Cortina and Mk1 Mexico along with a plethora of other cool cars, it’s fair to say he knows his way around a classic pretty well. Jez also still shows his Mk2 Cortina with a Rover V8, which also happens to be his first car from way back in 1985! It’s of little surprise then that 22-year-old son, Aiden has also joined the Blue Oval party and this stunning, hot Crossflow Mk1 Fiesta is his latest creation. 

fiesta finesse

Just like Jez’s Cortina, this 1983 Mk1 Fiesta 1.3 Finesse has resided within the Powell family for decades. “My Dad originally bought it for his Mum back in 1990 as she really wanted a gold Mk1 Fiesta,” Aiden explains. “He found her the perfect one-owner Finesse and she loved it for the next 15 years.” Sadly, by 2006 Aiden’s Gran fell ill, was unable to drive and the Fiesta was passed down to her Grandson. Being just nine years’ old at the time, thoughts of driving the Fiesta around were certainly a long way off for Aiden and the car was soon put into storage. “There was no way we could sell it as it had been in the family for such a long time,” Aiden explains. 

fiesta finesse

Get ready

A few years would pass and Aiden and Jez inspected the Fiesta one Saturday morning in preparation to return it to the road. “I hadn’t even passed my test, but we knew the car would need work and I was keen to have it ready by the time I was 17,” Aiden explains. “The plan was to respray the shell, lower the suspension and add some nice wheels, but unfortunately the rear chassis section above the rear axle was found to be completely rotten which slowed things down a bit!” Somehow, the pair managed to track down a new-old stock complete chassis section which was soon welded into place.  

“Generally, the bodywork was beginning to show its age,” Aiden confesses, “and as my Dad is a sprayer and quite a perfectionist, he suggested I keep the car off the road and rebuild it properly.” Aside from the rear floor section, fresh wings, front panel and new sills were found to be required once the Finesse had been stripped down, all routine jobs for a man like Aiden’s Dad! 

Once all the welding work and preparation had been completed, the shell was treated to a much brighter colour of Sunburst Red both inside and out. As we pointed out, being a sprayer by trade meant Jez could ensure this respray would stand the test of time and although the paint was applied some five years ago, it could so easily have been done last week! The intentional lack of bumpers results in a more purposeful and aggressive look whilst showing off the Mk1’s clean and simple lines. 

fiesta finesse

Upgrade essentials

Aiden opted for GAZ coil-overs up front with GAZ dampers and 50 mm lowering springs at the rear as he reckons these are the best you can buy for a Mk1 Fiesta. The remainder of the chassis has been polybushed throughout with Orbital rear arms and a Panhard rod also now in place. Although big brakes could have been a tempting option, the lightweight stripped out Fiesta copes well enough with an XR2 set-up and Green Stuff pads. Aiden then found himself a set of RS four-spokes to complete his intended look with the 1300 Crossflow still in place.

“This meant it was cheap to insure being 17 but I soon got used to the mediocre power,” Aiden recalls, “I managed to get hold of a 1700 Crossflow XR2 unit as a replacement.” Sadly, the larger Crossflow wasn’t to last long — bottom end failure sealing its fate shortly after. “I had a fresh new bottom end built by Ford Tech in Huddersfield, which got everything back on track,” Aiden recalls, “and at least while the failed Crossflow was removed, my Dad got chance to repaint the bay!”

The engine bay itself is now just as stunning as the remainder of the car with subtle changes and modifications made over the past few years. The current 1660cc Crossflow benefits from a Stage 3 Vulcan head, Kent 234 cam, lightened rods and a lightened and balanced bottom end.
It’s back to the old school with twin 40 DCOE Weber carbs while a four-into-one manifold and custom stainless exhaust system and Bestek electronic ignition all combine to make this Mk1 a lively performer on the road. The Burton Power rocker cover and Aiden’s latest acquisition of a custom radiator built by Creative Aluminium Fabrications look the part too, this is an attractive Mk1 bay, no mistake! 

’Box fresh

With a noticeable increase in power suddenly under Aiden’s right foot, it made sense to swap the original four-speed gearbox to a stronger XR2 gearbox which also now benefits from an RS Turbo LSD and B&M quickshift. “We had to redrill the flywheel to accept the RS Turbo clutch and have also upgraded to a set of Vibratechnic engine mounts,” Aiden adds.  

Once inside, it’s back to basics with a pair of classic bucket seats, an RS three-spoke steering wheel, XR2 clocks and Supersport door cards. The stripped-out interior not only saves weight but also shows off the flawless paintwork inside, too. 

“I may change the seats and fit a roll cage soon as the car is heading in a more track-focused direction now,” Aiden adds. 

fiesta finesse

The RS four-spoke wheels reminiscent of the iconic Supersport have also given way to a set of eye-catching 7×13 Allycats which combined with the red exterior really do distance the car from its humble beginnings. 

In addition to the forthcoming roll cage, new seats and harnesses, Aiden also plans on upgrading the brakes to a set of Willwood four-pots along with a little more weight saving, though we’re sure this Mk1 is a featherweight as cars go in its current guise! He’ll be kept bust too as he’s already bought himself a second project in the shape of a Mk2 Escort Ghia which is likely to see a fruity Crossflow inside along with an LSD and a set of tasty rims. 

As for the Fiesta, Aiden is the first to admit, it’ll probably remain a never-ending project like his Dad’s V8 Cortina and it will no doubt evolve over the coming years, perhaps even decades. 

Words and Photos Jon Cass

See more photos and get the full spec on Aiden’s Fiesta Finesse in the January issue

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