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After five years, Mike’s Fiesta Mk1 turbo project is finally heading in the right direction — to the road.

As always, it has taken me a lot longer than expected to pull together the last bits of the puzzle. But I can now report that after a number of wiring gremlins, some fuel pump issues and a general lack of free time to play with the car, I’ve finally managed to drive my Fiesta Mk1 turbo on its maiden voyage around the block with the new compound turbo set-up and six-speed gearbox. And I can assure you, it was a great feeling to hear the side-exit exhaust resonating off all the parked cars as I clunked it up through the gears with my quickshift lever. 

I’ve not driven a car like this for a while and even at low speed it was an exciting experience. I will admit that on its very first venture out, I fast realised it wasn’t making any boost at all! I rushed back to the garage and after a little investigative work I realised I had never actually bothered to put a spring inside the wastegate while mocking it all up. So, I reached for the Allen key and slotted a 10 psi spring (for now) inside the wastegate. I then ventured back out for another test lap of the block, and was over the moon to see it making boost as soon as 2000 rpm. This was accompanied shortly after by the right ‘choo choo’ turbo noises when I let off the throttle. 

Shortly after this initial drive I managed to finish off mounting the dashboard for the final time, and wired up all the gauges and switches properly. I then booked the car in to have the wheel alignment sorted as this was another issue that I noticed out on the test drive. While accelerating I could feel that the tracking on the front was miles out and the tyres were squealing when turning in. 

On toe

Zak at Power Engineering offered to set the car up. He adjusted the toe, camber and castor on the front. And while it was up on the ramp, we both went through the whole car, checking over everything and gave it a final nut-and-bolt check. With the wheels pointing in the right direction we moved our attention onto getting the fuelling right. Our plan was to take it out on the road for a little live mapping session — just to check and adjust the off-boost low speed and cruising areas in the map. However, we managed to spend the rest of the afternoon chasing issues with my Air Fuel Ratio (AFR) gauge! It appeared to be misreading badly, and was indicating that the engine was running rich. When Zak pulled fuel out of the tune to where it should be on the gauge the engine didn’t want to run. So, we decided to call it a day until I had resolved the issue and had a gauge and o2 sensor that was working and that we could be confident in using as a reliable reference. 

We did however venture out for a little light throttle drive as Zak was keen to experience the compound turbo quick spool set up. And even with me being mindful that its not properly set up yet and being somewhat restrained on the throttle, it still felt fast! 

The car gets on boost from low down in the revs which is exactly what I wanted this set-up to do. I’ll be honest I couldn’t resist and did mash the throttle a couple of times and it really does take off! It also sounds amazing! Spooling up, wastegate roaring and the both turbos chattering away!  

fiesta mk1 turbo

Map reading

I’m now on the case of swapping out the Lambda sensor with a new item that David at DA Performance Engineering sent me. And with the AFR gauge sorted I can finally get the car booked in with Michael Clarke at Ignition Advantages to enable us to map it properly on his rolling road. We can also do some experimenting with the wastegates to see where the transition from small turbo to large turbo will be in the rev range. It will be really interesting to see exactly what this setup is doing, to see the torque curve and also see what it is capable of producing power wise at full chat. 

I can’t believe it’s been off the road five years, so to have it running and driving has made all the hard work and effort so worth it. Now I’m looking forward to this year’s show season where I will be able to get some seat time and enjoy the car up the strip and out on track, with both turbos now officially boosting… Watch this space!

This update on Mike’s Fiesta Mk1 turbo first appeared in the Spring issue

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