The Hot Hatch was a term for class of hatchback that gained currency with the introduction of the performance orientated Volkswagen Golf GTi in 1976, although I would venture to suggest the first real performance hatch back was the rear wheel drive Austin A40 Countryman which won the 1960 British Saloon Car Championship with Doc Shepherd at the wheel, though pedants may quibble about the fact that only the lower boot / tailgate of the Mk 1 A40, that one the championship, opened where as a hatch back is generally considered to have a rear opening that includes the the rear window and most commonly front wheel drive.
Fords entry vehicle into the front wheel drive hatchback market, ‘Project Bobcat’, was first seen at Le Mans in June 1976. The Fiesta range topping performance XR2 was launched in 1981 with an 84hp 1597cc / 97.5 cui over head valve 4 cylinder motor fitted with a carburetor good for a 0 – 60 mph time of 9.3 seconds and a top speed of 105 mph.
The much modified XR2 above with extended wheel arches is seen in the car park of the Südring shopping mall in Paderborn, Germany. The number plate style indicates it belonged to a member of the British Army On The Rhine (BAOR), and is seen competing in an Autotest a sport in which precision driving is the key skill. If you happen to recognise the car or know it’s drivers please chime in below.
The Mk II Fiesta was launched in 1983 was essentially a reskin of the Mk I with the XR2 version being fitted with a 95hp motor as used in the Ford Escort Mk 3 XR3.
Thanks to Roger Lund, Alan Raine and Tim Wilkinson at The Nostalgia Forum we have a consensus that the #23 Goodliff car seen at Brands Hatch above was driven by Norman Grimshaw, and that the car was shared with Barrie (Whizzo) Williams during a two driver race in the Ford Credit Fiesta Championship at Oulton Park.
In 1989 the third generation Fiesta was launched with a revised chassis pan recognisably similar to the original version and completely new body. Upgraded with a fuel injected 104 hp motor the XR2 became the XR2i, however increased competition in market led Ford to introduce an RS 1800 and RS Turbo versions of the Fiesta which topped and replaced the XR2i name in 1992.
Joining Norman Grimshaw at Goodliff racing in 1989 were ‘one make’ racing specialist James Kaye and Jim Smith in the #1 and #11 respectively seen above heading for a Goodliff 1-2 finish in the Ford Credit Fiesta Championship race at Donington Park on the 16th of May 1989.
Various Fiesta floor pans were used to build Quantum Coupé and Quantum 2+2 convertible kit cars.
Thanks for joining me on this ‘Henry’s Hot Hatch’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !