The Racing Game
Lyndon Churchfield was a mad motorsport fan from a very early age and, while many of his peers were drooling over the motors of the rallying greats, he clearly remembers being struck by a little blue Fiesta first seen on an old Playstation game. As a grown-up, he set about recreating that car down to the finest detail.
Words and photos by Simon Hastelow
Picture the scene, it’s 1998 and you’re a mad touring car fan, the Super Touring era. Nigel Mansell comes back from retirement and shows the saloon car boys how the F1 drivers do it. Awesome stuff. However, when you’re a seven-year-old with nothing more than car posters plastered all over your wall, the PlayStation has to suffice in providing your driving thrills.
And this is the original Playstation that we are talking about, the one which you plugged into the back of your mum and dad’s chunky old TV in the lounge, not the super-fancy modern games console connected to a high-resolution LCD screen complete with surround sound. We’re sure you’ve all been there.
Now, whilst the Super Tourers were all very spectacular, they were far too mainstream for Lyndon. He had his heart set on quite a different race car: the ‘new’ Ford Fiesta, which, at this time, was the sad eye Mk4 version and was featured in the TOCA2 game in full Ford Credit Championship livery. He unashamedly asks “What sort of plonker would try to replicate that?”
He had his heart set on quite a different race car: the ‘new’ Ford Fiesta, which, at this time, was the sad eye Mk4 version and was featured in the TOCA2 game in full Ford Credit Championship livery
Fast forward nearly 18 years and that blocky, pixelated image on his dad’s big, black Grundig telly has started to become an evolving reality. He has, by now, acquired a very tasty Sierra Cosworth tuned to Stage 1 so he likes his retro Fords, and he likes them to be able to move along fairly quickly.
Lyndon explains, “I’ve always been into track cars and the like, my first love being rallying. However, the budget required somewhat killed that idea before anything worthwhile happened. I just wanted a fun, cheap track car which wouldn’t rinse my bank balance.”
“Now, using the Cossie on the track was never going to happen, it was far too good for that. So, I acquired a Melina Blue Fiesta on a T-plate and set about the usual track car upgrades: Puma running gear, lowered suspension and not a lot of interior.
“But something was missing, the young Lyndon inside me couldn’t help but want to make it just like the one I wasted so many hours thrashing around the virtual track on that old TOCA 2 game. So, after a slightly bizarre conversation with a local sticker and vinyl place, the dream became a reality!”
His research into the vehicle depended on a rather faded copy of a press photo for the Fiesta Credit series, but after doing some more in-depth research, Lyndon realised that such big names as Colin Turkington and Gordon Sheddon started their careers in Mk4 Fiestas in the Credit Championship, too. That was all the ‘approval’ he needed to see it through to the end.
His research into the vehicle depended on a rather faded copy of a press photo for the Fiesta Credit series, but after doing some more in-depth research, Lyndon realised that such big names as Colin Turkington and Gordon Sheddon started their careers in Mk4 Fiestas in the Credit Championship, too
Lyndon originally bought the Mk4 as a ‘good runner, recently serviced’ but had it all stripped down and the engine out as soon as he got it home.
Most of the parts were sourced from a Puma with a few other forays into other Ford parts bins to complement them. Underneath, it is not just a straight copy of the Ford Credit cars, but rather a slightly updated version. All of the running gear is from the Puma, he has fitted lowered springs, brake discs from an ST170 and calipers from a Mondeo. All of which were bought from a local scrapyard and cleaned up or refurbished where necessary by Lyndon himself to keep the costs down.
When it came to the electrical wiring he did consider splicing the new sections into the old but, in the end, chose to go for a new, complete Puma loom after finding a reasonable example for not much money. One thing that made the build a lot easier right from the start was his decision to forget about trying to make the Fiesta road legal. Although this obviously meant it would need to be trailered to the track and any other events he wished to attend, it meant he was far less constrained in his choice of parts, fitment and other fripperies that only required for an MOT and road use.
This also helped the overall budget somewhat, and while it still became an expensive build in Mk4 Fiesta terms, in race-car or track-car terms it was very cheap indeed, at under £2k.
One slight issue Lyndon had with the build was the ‘help and advice’ that other people seemed to insist on providing. While some people are undoubtedly very helpful, sometimes this strays into the realm of criticism. “People seem to think they can dictate what parts you should and should not fit, and it’s usually exactly what THEY have fitted to their cars!
“Even something as simple as choice of tyres for a hill-climb event, if you turn up with the ‘wrong’ ones the tut-tutting is deafening,” he concludes. However, he sees it all as personal choice and budget. He’s built the car exactly as he wanted it to be.
After the car was finally complete and had gone through a few test drives with no real issues to deal with, Lyndon was ready to take the little Fiesta to Ford Fair. He also booked a track session and was very excited to give it a first real blast around a track.
As it happens, due to a slight confusion with times and an error with the organiser’s paperwork (not entirely unheard of!), he missed his slot on the novice session and was rescheduled to join the intermediate drivers instead.
“I was bricking it!” he states. “All I wanted to do was get around the track in one piece and keep it on the tarmac. But all these other cars were whizzing past me!”
On the track at Silverstone: “I was bricking it!” he states. “All I wanted to do was get around the track in one piece and keep it on the tarmac. But all these other cars were whizzing past me!
Luckily Lyndon completed the session in one piece and with a real buzz for doing it again. He competes often in hill-climb events which are simply judged on time trials rather than racing head-to-head on a track.
However well he does on the track, it is probably nothing compared to the excitement the much younger Lyndon had playing TOCA2 on the original Playstation. And a lot easier to recover from an off in the digital world!
Vehicle: Ford Fiesta 1.7 Puma conversion
Name: Lyndon Churchfield
Location: West Midlands
Occupation: Car builder, Morgan motor factory
Best mod: Roll cage
Next mod: Decent tyres
First Ford: Blue V reg Mk1 fiesta
Best Ford: Current toy Sierra Cosworth
Fantasy Ford: Carlos Sainz Repsol Escort Cosworth
Thanks to: KRC Vehicle Repair (dad) for the bodywork and Pete Hunter for the decals. Steve Jakeman, welder/fabricator and help on mechanical things.
Trackday, Show or Concourse?: Trackday
Dream shotgun ride: McRae in 2001 Focus WRC
Cheap or premium fuel?: Premium all the way
Football, Cricket, Rugby or Motorsport?: Motorsport takes TWO balls to play unlike the others!
MP3, CD or Vinyl: CD?: But what about a retro tape?
Best driving song?: Don’t tend to listen to music – the engine sings its own song
iPhone or Android?: Nokia 3310
Early Bird or Night Owl?: Night owl
Twitter or Facebook?: Twitter
PERFORMANCE Engine replaced with 125bhp Puma engine
SUSPENSION AND HANDLING Gas filled shocks with 60mm lowering springs, rear beam polybushed
UNDER THE BONNET Engine fitted with ram air induction, decatted manifold, full Hoffman race system, front strut brace
EXTERIOR AND PAINT Melina blue with full Toca Fiesta Credit Championship replica details
INTERIOR Fully stripped out with 2 Corbeau Forza 2000 bucket seats. Willans/Sabelt harnesses, full FIA approved roll cage, rear strut brace, battery cut off switch, OMP deep dish steering wheel, extra high level brake lights