The Complete History of

Part 1: The Cars

Something I’ve been wanting to write for a while now is this - the complete story of how ft started, what made me create the site and what stars aligned for it still to be around to this day. As this is going to be quite lengthy, I’ll split it into multiple parts covering my car history, the creation of the site, how the photography side has changed and developed (technically dated pun intended) and most importantly, the people who made the ft community so amazing.

At 20 years old ft is either older than or has outlived every other Ford website going. So how is this little slice of the internet still around and how did it come into existence? To find out we need to go back, way back. Not just back to 2001, or the prior incarnation from 1999, but back to the 80s where a young car fan by the name of Adrian (that’s me) was forming what the marketing folks like to call “brand loyalty” with the blue oval.

The brand

As a child of primary school age in the late 80s the car world at the time had a lot to offer. Although some influence came from my parents - my dad drove Peugeots so trips to the dealer usually involved sitting in and pretending to drive 205 GTIs and 405 MI16s, it was my best mate Ben who swayed me in the direction of Ford. His dad drove Sierras and Ben knew everything about the brand. We obsessed over Cosworths and RS200s, talked endlessly about what cars we would get when we were older and used to design our own.

As I got older my attention turned toward hobbies I could actually participate properly in, rather than just reading and watching. Mountain bikes became my new focus and cars took a back seat. This lasted until June 1998 when something happened that, although years before the first line of HTML had been written, would set the wheels of ft in motion.

The first Ford

Driving home from work one day I spotted a car at a dealers that caught my eye. I say that, but it was more of an instant I have to have that want. It was a 1992 XR2i 16v on a K plate and stood out a mile as it had silver and blue tiger stripes - a mod that the credibility of has yo-yoed severely over the years and at the time of writing may be regarded as “retro cool”. I didn’t have the £5500 asking price hanging from the sun visor but I did have a full time job and a pen which could be used to sign finance agreements.

XR2i Scan 1998
My XR2i with questionable modifications, 1998

At that time I new nothing about it, I wasn’t aware of the difference between the 8v and the 16v, had no idea if the price was reasonable or the mileage was decent, I just wanted it. A week or so later the keys were in my hand and it was mine. I can’t remember how long it stayed standard but it wasn’t long. I soon discovered magazines like Max Power, Revs and Fast Car, and the Ford mags and pretty soon it had a Magnex exhaust, fast road discs and pads and Spax coilovers.

Once I’d started to learn what was good and what was a bit naff, I removed the “XR2i”, “16 valve” and Ford logos. The stripes lasted a bit longer but came off I think in early 1999.

XR2i Scan 1999
Stripes removed but still terrible wheels, 1999

I’d planned to fit 17s (rather than replace the three spokes with 15s which would then get sold, I put up with them while I saved for the 17s) and a load of other bits, but it soon became apparent that even throwing thousands at the engine wasn’t going to make it much faster and the best course of action was to sell it and get an RS Turbo. I started the search for an RST in late spring of 1999. I wanted a white car, standard or modified and ideally sub 60k. I missed out on an absolutely perfect standard 34k example, which even at the time I’d thought perhaps to good to modify (at least anything irreversible, anyhow).

The RS

Not long after I was browsing the “Speed Shop” classifieds in Revs magazine and spotted exactly what I was after - a white RS Turbo which I immediately recognised as a former feature car from both Performance Ford and Revs. It had a lot of the mods I’d planned - 17s, Mondeo rear spoiler, de-locked, colour coded mirrors, 165 chip and a whole load of underbonnet chrome. It belonged to a guy called Steve Smith who was up in Stalybridge, directly east of Manchester and about 35 miles from where I lived at the time. I’d actually been passed by the car whilst up that way with work one time. I arranged to view it and myself my mate Alex drove up one evening. It wasn’t quite as tidy as I’d hoped and the mileage was a little high at 74k, but I bought it anyway for a couple of hundred less than the £7800 Steve was asking. Leaving a deposit I went back the next week and collected it.

FRST Scan 1999 Frontside Left
My RS Turbo the day I collected it

Immediately it felt both familiar and alien. Compared to my XR2i it was not that nice to drive - the steering was heavy with the big wheels, and the gear change sloppy. The ride was as expected, worse, due to the 40 profile tyres and the agricultural CVH was a real step back from the smooth Zetec. The Recaros had been re-trimmed in leather but not a particularly good grade, more like a tough shoe leather than a luxurious hide. Even the starting procedure was more of a pain - with two immobilisers and an alarm that would frequently not respond to the keyfob.

As I got to know the car over the coming weeks and months I found as much to dislike as like. I was in love with the looks and the sound but hated how it drove rode and the general untidiness of the car - some carbon look dash trim had been stuck back on with hot glue so left residue on the dashboard, and the oval side repeaters were Corsa items which didn’t fit the Fiesta wings and had also been glued on.

On the upside, the fact it was so far from standard meant I had no guilt doing anything at all, and I soon began to make the car my own. The ride height was a bit uneven with Jamex 30mm springs on the front and 60mm on the back so I swapped those and the Koni shocks for the coilovers from my XR2i, which I’d kept as a daily, and revamped the interior with a new steering wheel, gear knob and mats.

FRST STalburg Interior
My RS Turbo, March 2001

The spark

As I did more and more to the car and learnt and researched, I started to help out other owners on the various forums that were online at the time. Quite soon I decided that rather than repeating myself answering the same questions, I should put together some detailed guides. I had some web space, got a domain name and got to work… More on that in part two.

The others

I had the RS Turbo from 1999 until 2006, and it was always accompanied by a daily. At first insuring two cars was too expensive for me, so I used to insure and tax each one for six months of the year - the RS from April-September and the XR2i from October-March with the other car stored in my parents’ garage. After a couple of years of this I was able to have both running concurrently.

In August 2001 the XR2i went and I bought a Mk5 Zetec-S brand new (to date still the only new car I’ve ever owned). This had a few tweaks in the form of a Scorpion Exhaust, K&N cone filter and some fantastic Sparco Racing Puma seats.

Zetec S 2003
My Fiesta Zetec-S with Racing Puma seats, 2003

In June 2004 this was replaced with my first divergence from Ford - a Clio 182. Ford had the Fiesta ST150 at the time, but it was shown up in pretty much every area by the more powerful, better handling Clio. Even with the aforementioned brand loyalty it wasn’t a hard choice to make. The 182 got Recaro seats but remained otherwise stock.

I took the RS Turbo off the road for winter in 2005 and sold some parts like the flush tailgate in preparation for upcoming replacements. Spring 2006 came and the car was in bits. The Clio’s 80bhp odd extra over the Zetec-S meant that the RS was now the slower of my two cars and the enthusiasm had waned. I attended Fiesta In The Park 2006 in the Clio which was the last show I would go to until 2012. In July of that year I decided to strip the RS for parts and began to do that. I sold everything except the shell, which was rolling engineless and brakeless on a set of 14” steels. This eventually went on eBay and sold to Clark (Knuckles on the forum) who’s since alongside Jay, done an amazing restoration back to a standard car.

Clio 182 Track
My Clio 182, RenaultSport Track Day, Oulton Park 2005

Just before the RS shell went I’d moved out from my parents into a rented flat and cars took a back seat while I got back into cycling and saved for a house deposit. In December 2010 I bought a place, having chosen it based almost solely on the double garage it came with. I kept the 182 until February 2011 when I changed to the newer RenaultSport Clio 200.

Clio 200 Moors Rearside
My RenaultSport Clio 200, October 2012

Two things relevant to ft happened with the Clio 200 - firstly my camera gear got some serious upgrades, which helped improve the quality of my photos no end (more on that later) and secondly, I started going to shows again, beginning with Ford Fair 2012.

I loved the 200, it was a huge improvement over the 182 with better seats, a lower seating position, smaller steering wheel and generally improved build quality, but it would be the shortest owned car as two years later in May 2013 I was able to get a Mk2 Focus RS.

The Focus

Back in a Ford, back in an RS and back in a turbo. After doing nothing to the 200 save a RenaultSport alloy gear knob and spoiler the mod bug was back and within weeks the Focus had Revo Stage 4, Spec-R intercooler, lowering springs and a KMS exhaust.

Focus Horseshoe May14 3
My Focus RS, May 2014

Eight years later and I still have the Focus, it got to a level I was happy with very quickly and the next step up requires a lot more investment for not so much gain - higher flow fuel pump, forged engine build, uprated clutch etc. The 400bhp or so it’s at now is just about right and still feels quick. The only modification in the past few years has been lower seat frames to drop the driving position. There’s still nothing I’d like to replace it with (that’s financially within reach anyhow) so I plan on keeping it a while longer and making a few more minor changes. Nothing irreversible as I want to maintain the value.

So that’s my car history - not many for 23 years, but I like to choose wisely and keep them for a long time. In the next part of this story we’ll cover what prompted me to create ft and how it got started back in 2000.


The second 20th Anniversary article, a dive into the history of how the site came about is available here:

17:44, 4th December 2021 Twitter Web App

To celebrate being 20 years old this year, I've written a series of articles detailing the…

17:42, 4th December 2021 Twitter Web App

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