Everyone interested in buying cars these days is forever looking for the next ‘future classic’, scouring the market for limited-run performance cars that seem like a decent investment instead of cash just sitting in the bank. Cars with ties to motorsport have gone especially crazy; Mercedes 190E 2.5-16 Evo IIs, E30 BMW M3s and Ford Sierra Cosworths have all blasted towards six figures in no time at all. So to get my car collecting off the ground, I decided that the fast Ford route was the safest bet. And here it is.
This is my 2000 Ford Mondeo ST200. It cost me just £1000, it has a 2.5-litre V6 with 200bhp and it sits nicer than just about any performance saloon I’ve ever seen. Why so cheap I hear you say? Well, this specimen – painted in stunning Ford RS Blue – happens to have completed a massive 142,000 miles since the start of the Millennium. That’s a lot.
I see the ST200 as a student-budget homologation special however, considering the massive success that the Supertouring car of the time had on the BTCC circuit. After some tinkering from motorsport legends Prodrive, the V6 was coaxed up to 305bhp. Couple that with the talented chassis engineers at Ford during that time and you have a seriously capable performance saloon that managed a whitewash 1-2-3 finish in the 2000 season.
Having seen one such car racing around Knockhill in Scotland at a Supertouring tribute event, I immediately fell in love. That high-revving V6 was combined with a pea-shooter exhaust to emit a soundtrack akin to a miniature V12 F1 car. I just had to have a piece of that action.
And here I am, in the ownership of the Duratec beast that the touring car was based upon. But my car has a way to go before it can even think about setting foot on a track. The clutch is teetering on the edge of failure; the friction plate feels as thin as CT COO Gabor’s chances of buying an S2000 again. The gearbox itself feels as rounded and well-used as my grandmother’s butter knife and the brakes are in dire need of being tended to, screaming for new pads in the run-up to every corner.
For the money however, you really can’t do much better. The 60-degree V6 stuffed under the bonnet is the smoothest powertrain I’ve ever experienced – Ford really knew how to balance an engine back in the day.
Despite the high mileage, the engine is the centrepiece for the Mondeo thanks to a full rebuild at 100,000 miles. And considering two of these engines (bored out to 3.0-litres) were welded together to make every Aston Martin V12 from the Vanquish up until the DB11, there is a definite hint of that wailing V12 howl when you get the ST200 past 5000rpm. £1000 for half an Aston V12? That’ll do nicely.
200bhp through the front wheels always feels enough and it’s a nice break from my rear-wheel drive Mazda MX-5 daily, allowing me to explore the characteristics of both setups. 0-60mph takes around 7.7 seconds and it’ll crack 151mph. It will light up its front tyres easily enough (especially considering the Scottish weather) and torque steer can become an issue when you ask too much of the front wheels.
But get the gearing right, keep the engine spinning above its 4500rpm sweet spot, and the Mondeo is a massively capable thing on the country roads up here, despite the bus-driver steering wheel that points more towards the roof than my chest (like a Delta Integrale, now that I think of it).
The ST can be thrown into corners, compressing the stiffened sport suspension with complete composure while the steering loads up progressively in a manner that simply oozes motorsport. Tearing down my favourite local roads, I feel as if I should be nipping at the back end of liveried Volvo S40s and diving down the inside of Honda Accords under braking like the racing heroes nearly two decades ago
It’s impressive how Ford managed to make the docile Mondeo saloon look so menacing. It sits beautifully on its stiffened suspension, with 17-inch wheels crammed up into the arches to create an aggressive stance respected by all petrolheads that walk past with knowing nods. This wondrously low stock suspension shows just how talented the engineers were at setting up the car; not once have the tyres scrubbed or caught the arches, showing the precision of calibration at hand.
In a world where most petrolheads lean towards BMW for a bargain performance saloon, the motorsport-derived ST200 is a welcome and interesting break from the onslaught of Germanic straight sixes.
With only 500 UK cars left on the road, I reckon I’ve made a decent call for once in my automotive life. And with prices of Ford Racing Pumas already on the up from the exact same era of manufacture, I’ll be holding onto this six-cylinder racing legend as my own little investment. She may be a bit long in the leg, but this touring car for the road has plenty of adventures left in her.
If you want to see more of the Mondeo - the trips I’ll be taking it on and any possible modifications - hop over to my instagram!
Photography by Space and Silence Photography.