If only working on classic Fords was always this easy — a morning’s work sees the new engine and gearbox fitted in the bay duo the Fiesta Mk2.
There was a time when fitting an engine from another type of car to a front-wheel drive Ford seemed unheard of. The thought of bespoke mounts, clearance issues and custom driveshafts made conversions seem virtually impossible, but times change. As you can tell from the pictures here, the Honda B18 engine and ‘box are mounted in my Mk2 and do you know what? It was less work than fitting a Black Top Zetec engine with an MTX gearbox and took just a few hours to get it where it is.
It started early one morning when we stripped the car’s front suspension down to move the tie-bars out of the way to leave the engine bay open and free. We also removed the brake servo, pedal box and all the bulky ancillaries from the Honda engine we wouldn’t be needing, such as the power steering pump and aircon pump. Then, the car was lowered down onto the engine and gearbox for the first time to give a rough idea of what fabrication would be needed for mounts and chassis rail clearance.
I’d already taken some rough measurements which indicated the Fiesta’s inner wings might need a little massaging, however, this car had previously been modified for an MTX gearbox conversion, which meant the nearside inner arch skin had been notched, which is where the Honda crank pulley now sat as these engines are back-to-front with the gearbox on the opposite side.
As it happened, that first mock-up in the hole revealed the car’s previous MTX custom mounts were the first issue, followed by the Honda crank pulley being too long. A quick web search revealed slim-line Honda crank pulleys are easy to get hold of for those removing aircon and a few minutes with a grinder took care of the previous ‘box mount.
The next day, armed with a new crank pulley we attempted the second trial fitting and were all a little surprised when the engine slipped straight in-between the inner wings with clearance both sides! In fact, with the thinner pulley fitted, it doesn’t even need the extra clearance from the previous inner wing notch. It was at this point we realised it was going to be far simpler than we expected and the next two hours saw my friends Clarke, Ollie and Little Dan adapting an off-the-shelf Zetec engine and MTX gearbox mount kit we had lying round to fit the Honda.
After making sure the engine was straight and level in the hole, a strengthening plate was welded in place each side and then Clarke welded the new mounts in. Everything was then bolted back together and the car was put back down on the ground. It’s fair to say we were all chuffed seeing it mounted in the ‘bay, as it looks right at home in there and items like the manifolds and alternator still fit fine.
Of course, there’s still plenty to do and next up is a back mount to support the engine from moving. Then we have to make the Honda gear linkage fit, re-fit the Fiesta brake servo on the driver’s side, as I don’t want a pedal box and it’s onto mocking up the coolant, fuel and brake line plumbing before driveshafts and exhaust are mocked up and it all comes out again for paint.
So, looking back, all that was needed was a Zetec engine mount kit as no inner wing modifications were needed and while there will be some fuss with the other bits, that’s not a lot of work to get a bullet-proof 180 bhp and LSD gearbox. There’s even enough room for a turbo, we reckon…
This update on Simon’s Fiesta Mk2 first appeared in the July 2018 issue
For more Classic Ford project cars, click here.