Icon buyer: Three fast Ford legends, CAR+ March 2016

Published: 17 February 2016 Updated: 22 February 2016

► Used Ford buying advice from Sean Porter
► Porter runs a Ford specialist garage
► Focus RS Mk1, Mk2 and Fiesta ST 

Focus RS Mk 1: £12k-£20k, 2002-2003  

1988cc 4-cyl, 212bhp, 6.4sec 0-62mph, 144mph

> Is this a good idea? ‘If there’s one car that effectively sums up what I call ‘Fordism’ – the way fast Fords tap into a part of a driver’s psyche – then this is it. The sheer drivability of the RS makes it my favourite recent fast Ford. Sure, it’s very raw and there’s torque steer, but that’s what makes you feel so alive when you’re behind the wheel – you can feel exactly what’s going on underneath you.’

> How much? ‘The residual values for the RS are excellent – Ford produced only 4501 models so while they’re there to be found, supply is limited. Walk away from anything less than £12k, and only pay north of £20k if it’s a pristine low-miler. And they’re appreciating. Next year you’ll need £14k-£23k.’

> What’s going to break? ‘This will sound too good to be true, but I’ve never heard of anything major going wrong with these cars. If it’s been abused, the clutch can go, but even then that will cost around £600. And its bespoke nature means interior parts might be tricky to find.’

> Crippling running costs? ‘Petrol aside, these are not dear cars to run even as daily drivers. A minor service will cost you no more than £200, while a major service should be this side of £350. Spend your money on quality rubber – it makes a huge difference.’

Ford's Mk2 Focus RS changed the front-wheel drive seen with its RevoKnuckle suspension. It's bold looks and staggering performance can be obtained for around the £20k mark

Focus RS Mk 2: £18k-£25k, 2009-2012

2522cc turbo 5-cyl, 301bhp, 5.9sec, 164mph

> Is this a good idea? ‘If you think the first RS was edgy, the Mk2 was off the scale. Its blown five-pot dished up 301bhp and 324lb ft. Porsche performance, blue oval money!’ 

> How much? ‘Residuals, like the RS before it, are very strong. Budget on £18k to £25k – they cost £25k new, remember – and try to buy a stock car that hasn’t been tweaked.’

> What’s going to break? ‘Nothing, if it’s been well looked after. These cars are really sound and well engineered to handle all that power. Be wary of very leggy examples with six or seven owners – service history is key.’

> Crippling running costs? ‘This is a relatively inexpensive car to run given its performance. Like the Mk1, spend every spare penny on decent boots.’

Arguably the best in the mini hot-hatch category, Ford's Fiesta ST sits around the £12k mark

Fiesta ST: £12-£15k, 2013-present

1597cc 4-cyl, 180bhp, 6.9sec 0-62mph, 137mph

> Is this a good idea? ‘Absolutely! An incredible car. It sparkles everywhere.’

> How much? ‘They don’t hold their value as well as the RS, but this means the ST is even more of a bargain. Expect to drop around £12k on tidy examples’

> What’s going to break? ‘I’ve not heard of anything going wrong – reliability is strong. The Mountune upgrade is also nothing to be worried about – it’s covered by Ford’s factory warranty.’

> Crippling running costs? ‘Nope. Minor services cost £165, majors £210. Shouldn’t cost any more than a regular Fiesta.’

Read more from the March 2016 issue of CAR magazine

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars