This then is where the RS1600i story begins.
I first became aware of the new FWD RS at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1982 but at that time it was far too expensive
for me. In early 1984 I had my first drive in an RSi when I noticed a 2nd hand model for sale at Seaway Motors now Dagenham Motors in Gillingham. My first impression of the car was that it was so different, I suppose being FWD compared to the RWD RS2000 and the interior was so very plush – I still believe the car has the best interior Ford ever fitted in an RS. I also remember returning to the Garage forecourt and when parking in the bay hitting the high curb with the front towing eye. Anyway I decided not to pursue this any further then at the 1984 Earls Court Motor Show on the Coys auctioneers stand was a white car and this is when I knew I had to have one. So after scanning‘Motoring News’ every week I decided to take a look at a Silver RS1600i with executive pack and tinted glass for sale privately in Sevenoaks, I had a test drive and on 8th September 1984 I became the second owner. I paid£6500 and this is the car I still own today. The mileage when purchased was 15000, the odometer now reads 81500. The first owner used the proceeds to purchase the new “White Hot” RS Turbo. I have the original sales invoice and the full purchase price was £7350.32 on 22nd January 1983 (it was originally ordered on 14/12/1982), the car has a build date of December 1982, (CG), also two
days before the original delivery date of the car it was treated to ‘Tuff-Kote Dinol’ rust proofing (similar to Ziebart) and that has to be the reason the car is in the condition it is today, the cost of this was £149.50. Also the original owner purchased two years Ford Extra Cover at a cost of£60.95 making the grand total for the car of £7560.77 which includes £80.00 for one year’s road tax and £8.70 for a tank full of fuel!!
The interim service was on 21/05/83 at 5300 miles at a cost of £25.24, and then the first full service was on 28/10/83 at 12900 miles. The next work done was on 22/06/84 when the tappets were adjusted and the clutch pedal position was adjusted as it was out of line with the brake pedal – it still is to this day! No other work was done until I took ownership of the car. Firstly I’d like to say that all routine servicing has been carried out by me and I have used Mobil 1 motorsport oil since its inception. On 21/04/87 the clutch was replaced by Keith Fowler’s team at Haynes Rally Sport Centre in Maidstone together with a broken tappet adjuster being replaced. Regarding the clutch, I had always noticed a very slight burning smell particularity on hard acceleration especially up an incline and I still get this today!! On 30/06/87 the original exhaust was replaced (centre section and rear box) at a cost of £154.17 including labour – those were the days!! The mileage being 21200. The front D4 tyres were replaced in August 1988, the odometer reading 24000 On 07/03/91 the exhaust was again replaced at a cost of £244.85 all in so the Ford exhaust lasting nearly four years and 11500 miles this time.
The rear D4’s were replaced in November 1991 with those on the front and a new set put on the front, the mileage now 35500, the original battery was also replaced two weeks later. On the 05/03/92 the rear Konis were replaced due to leakage. The new year of 1993 came and I treated the RS to a pump getting progressively noisier around this time so on 21/05/94 I replaced it, the cost £99.99 – about the same as it is today – mileage now 47500. Another battery replacement came in April 1995. The next work carried out other than routines was on the 19/06/95 when the exhaust front downpipes which were holed where replaced; this cost £70.00 including labour – mileage now 52000. On 21/02/96 with the mileage reading 54500 the exhaust ‘exhausted’ again so I took the plunge and had a ‘Phantom’ full stainless system fitted (this system is still on the car today). It also has the correct routing under the car. So to recap, three ford systems lasted 54500, the stainless has been on for 27000 miles and 12 years and all it has required is a bracket rewelded back on. This system cost £267.00 including labour.
Just before the end of 1996 the two front tyres were replaced with this time D40’s as D4’s were no longer available, mileage now 58000. These D40’s were £56.71 each. Two weeks later the clutch cable snapped so a new one was fitted together with the updated ratchet. The two rear tyres were replaced on 19/01/97 with D40’s, these were £61.20 so now the car runs on 4 x D40’s. The valve stem oil seats were replaced on 10/04/97, mileage now 59200. Everything was fine for over two years barring the regular services until 02/07/99 when both rear wheel cylinders were replaced, mileage
On 12/04/01 the car went to Haynes Rally Sport Centre for the replacement of the third cam belt plus another broken tappet adjuster and tune up’, mileage now 75900. At the end of September I had a CAT2 Immobiliser fitted as the Insurance Company didn’t recognise the one fitted some fifteen years previously. Another battery was purchased in January 2002 then in the March one of the original front Koni’s spring cups had rusted through resulting in the spring collapsing onto the tyre. At this point it was very difficult to obtain the correct Koni’s for the early RS1600i’s in fact impossible so the old ones were sent to the importers for a complete overhaul and a fantastic job they did too, even the colour was correct and for £117.50 inc. carriage. The car was off the road for two months because of this. Also all four tyres were replaced with Pirelli P5000’s for a total cost of £174.00, mileage now 76700. At this point I decided to retire the car from regular ‘family duties’ and purchased a MK4 Escort 1300L as the daily driver, others since had been 2x MK3
The car is now used on high days and holidays and for attending local classic car shows throughout the Spring and Summer months, I am also a member of the “Kent Classic and Sports Car Club”.
The most baffling problem I’ve encountered with the car happened in July 2005 when soon after starting the car and reversing it out of the garage it would stall; now this has never happened before it had always been so reliable, so very unusual. Generally it always restarted but eventually would not start at all. It took a while to ‘fix’ the problem but it turned out to be the ECU which had failed – reason unknown, and finding a replacement ECU wasn’t straightforward either. In March 2006 all the brake pipes were replaced with copper and braided hoses, mileage now 79500. Around this time I had noticed a rumbling bearing noise which was very difficult to locate so I took the cheapest option and replaced
the water pump over Easter 2007, the original one had a lot of play in the shaft, the noise has now gone. This brings us to the present day with the car still running very well and on original coils and leads!!
That concludes the mechanics of the car, now just a short note on the bodywork and interior which I have to say has stood the test of time very well. The car still carries all its original panels and paintwork barring the bonnet which I had repainted two years ago as the lacquer was crazed in places possibly due to the sun and engine heat. I replaced the bonnet
stripes which wasn’t as daunting as I thought. The battery tray is still original – I periodically check this by removing the battery. All wheel arches are fine, the only areas I do keep a close eye on is the front panel to inner wing seams, the bottom lip of the rear valance and the seam near the exhaust tail pipe – there is a small amount of pitting which I treat regularity. All four wheels are the originals and have not been restored; the spare has never been used on the road and still carries its original D4 tyre. The floor pans are still in excellent condition; however I have treated the area behind the front wheels to hammerite and underseal. I replaced the headlamps last year as they showed signs of corrosion and one had a small crack in it, also the spot lights were replaced a while ago for a similar reason, the fogs are the originals as are both spoilers. The sunroof has a little corrosion between the glass and frame but again not too bad. All interior is still original, the only wear being to the driver’s seat bolster piping about 2cm long and a couple of 1cm long cracks in the dash above the instrument binnacle around the air vents I have changed the radio for a Sony single play CD player but I do still
have the original.
Both my girls who are now in their twenties grew-up with the car and sat in child seats, but you wouldn’t know such is the hard wearing of the interior cloth etc.
This concludes my almost 25 years with what I believe has been a wonderful car that is now getting a lot attention where ever it goes. I cannot think that I will ever part with the car as it has become a member of the family.
This was written in 2008 and since then I have done the following: Replaced the CD player mentioned above for the original. Stripped the drivers right hand lower bolster worn cloth and piping and replaced it with a piece kindly donated by Dave Whitelaw. Stripped down all brakes, cleaned and hammerited where approptiate. Had many small parts in the engine bay replated plus the rocker cover and exhaust manifold have been media blasted courtesy of Tony and colleague Gary, it’s surprising what a big difference this makes to the appearance. Replaced the original HT leads which went brittle with Magnecor items, this turned out to be a simple job, the leads just screw into the coils and are sealed with the supplied silicon. 2 more oil and filter changes have been done, mileage now very close to 84,000.
Finally a big thank you to Tony Fuller for his advice and knowledge over the years.
Nigel Hanniford, member no. 00948.