It might not have ended well, but this was still an amazing way to celebrate two decades of Wheeler Dealers magic. Welcome, then, to the cracking Ford Fiesta 1300S.
This was going to be a special celebration of Wheeler Dealer’s 20th birthday, but it ended on something of a sour note when the Fiesta was stolen. We won’t dwell on this unpleasantness, though, and instead remind ourselves of an absolutely cracking project.
It was the biggest restoration yet, and Elvis certainly had his work cut out with this one. Mike’s nostalgia for the Ford Fiesta led him on a search that ended with the rare 1300S you see here, but the car being sold by his friend, John, was in a pretty bad way. There was rust, rust and more rust…
Still, the interior was in sound condition – a bit of mould aside – and the engine ran. In fact, the nippy supermini actually drove and Mike couldn’t resist getting it out on the road. It felt pretty good, and settling on a price of £4000 it was time to see what the ace mechanic thought of it.
It’s fair to say Elvis was a bit surprised, and was certain the bodywork was like Swiss cheese. He quickly got stuck in, though, stripping it back to a bare shell so work could begin on tackling the extensive corrosion. It was everywhere, and it looked as bad underneath as it did up top. Sand blasting it only revealed yet more holes…
Hours and hours were spent welding in fresh metal, and there was an extra challenge when Mike wanted to get rid of the non-original sunroof and replace the roof with a plain panel. A trip to see Dave secured the replacement panel, and Mike also spent a few hundred pounds on parts that would be needed as the restoration progressed.
Once the welding marathon was over the decision was taken to repaint the Fiesta in the original colour of Midnight Blue, and the end result was nothing short of superb. There was still an awful lot of work to do, though, so there was to be no rest for Elvis yet.
In the meantime Mike got on with the job of cleaning up the interior, and with a variety of products and plenty of elbow grease the mould and dirt was gone. It would look great back in the car, but before that could happen there was work to do on the tired engine and that included a bit of engineering.
Elvis used some hi-tech machinery to replace the valve seats in the cylinder head, ensuring the little Ford would be able to run on unleaded fuel. He could then crack-on with rebuilding the unit, fitting a new water pump to replace the noisy original and treating the motor to a new oil pump at the same time.
After all of that there was still plenty of hours ahead, fitting everything back into the freshly painted body. And the icing on the cake were the new ‘1300S’ decals that Mike had sourced. The total cost of all this work? A hefty £11,201 with much of that spent on restoring the rusty body. Never mind, though, because the result was spectacular and a fitting way to celebrate the show’s special anniversary.
It was just a pity that all of the Fiesta enthusiasts that had gathered at The Motorist in Leeds didn’t get to see the finished car, but it didn’t stop everyone having a great day out. We still hope the car might be found one day, but what a fantastic way to celebrate our favourite show. Bravo chaps!
Mike says: “This was both one of the best days ever after 20 years of Wheeler Dealers, and also one of the worse!
“Creating our own car show was a real highlight that we couldn’t wait to get there. We were so proud of what we achieved with the Fiesta, and we truly thought it was the best example of a Mark One anywhere in the country. Both myself and Elvis worked way above and beyond what we would normally do on this car and we were quite rightly very proud to show it off.
“I can’t describe the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach when I was told first thing in the morning that the car had been stolen along with the covered trailer! I was truly heartbroken and knew that after all of the organising we couldn’t cancel the event. What you don’t see in the show is the raw emotion when I was telling the audience that the car was stolen. I was genuinely fighting back tears, of which I had a few after. That was the worst part, the best part was the reaction from the people at the motorist. They were thrilled that we had a chance to look at their fiestas and they celebrated Britain’s best loved small car with us together.
“This is one episode I will never forget and undoubtedly be talking about forever.”
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