The best used fast Fords to buy in 2021

Ford has been the lifeblood of affordable fast cars for over 50 years. Here's one for every budget

By PH Staff / Friday, March 5, 2021 / Loading comments

Almost regardless of background, there will be a Ford-badged performance car in your driving history somewhere. Or at least one you drove like a performance car. Fast Fords are simply so ubiquitous – and, in lot of instances, so good – that they're impossible to ignore for the everyman car enthusiast. Whether Fiesta or Focus, Capri or Cortina, we all have happy stories to tell about the Fords of yore.

It won't have escaped anyone's attention, however, that certain cars have become tremendously expensive over recent years. The combination of badge cachet in the UK, age-induced scarcity and anxiety about the future (see the cancelled Focus RS for just one example) have all seen asking prices soar. It shouldn't be forgotten, either, that a great many of them were very good as well. It isn't hard to see why the first Focus RS, for example, stuffed to its blistered arches with bespoke components, is commanding strong money in 2021.

Some of the premiums are a little harder to understand, though, so the point of this list is to sort the wheat from the chaff, and to narrow it down to the fast Fords worth your hard earned in 2021. From £5,000 to a lotto win, here's what we've found.


Up to £5,000…

  • Mondeo ST220

Even this fairly modest amount of money opens up a treasure trove of fast Ford choice. The very best Pumas and SportKas – assuming they haven't all rusted away – should be in budget, as are more modern Fiesta ST150s and the five-cylinder Focus ST. All are eminently recommendable, too, but we're going to stick our neck out and suggest the Mondeo ST220 is where a low-end budget should be spent.

Why? Because it was a great car, for starters. We've all seen the Top Gear episode where a whole segment was dedicated to how good the flagship Mondeo really was, and that praise was wholly deserved. The ST220 looked smart, drove really nicely and was powered by a lusty 3.0-litre V6, giving it 150mph potential.

The ST has additional appeal in 2021 however, and elevates itself above the other possibilities through its rarity: numbers have halved over the past decade, and they're seldom seen nowadays. Which, where fast Fords are concerned, means it should be worth about £50k; but this one – an estate, no less – has fewer than 100,000 miles and is £4,690. What more do you need to know?

Up to £10,000…

  • Fiesta ST (Mk7)

In 2021, with Fiestas as good as the Performance Edition on sale, it can be hard to recall a time when the ST wasn't the class of the hot hatch field. Even though the 2.0-litre Mk6 Fiesta wasn't bad, it wasn't quite the equal of contemporaries like the Clio 182 and Mini Cooper S. Its memory was virtually eradicated though with the arrival in 2013 of the Mk7 Ecoboost ST. For raw, affordable, hilarious entertainment on four (or three) wheels, the Fiesta couldn't be beaten.

The key was its simplicity; as Renault Sport dabbled with dual-clutch gearboxes and Peugeot sought to take its GTI upmarket, Ford lowered and stiffened the Fiesta, fitted bigger brakes and cranked up the power – then sold it for less money than its rivals. The ST wasn't plush, but it was fun – and what else should a supermini hot hatch really be about?

With so many sold new, there are Mk7s tantalisingly close to £5k; with this more generous budget some of the last cars sold before the Mk8 launch are available. The Mountune MP215 upgrade, originally warrantied by Ford itself, is well worth seeking out, and the additional equipment of the ST-2 and ST-3 makes them more desirable. This 2015 ST-2 has covered fewer than 25,000 miles, and looks great in Spirit Blue – you won't have much more fun for less.

Up to £15,000…

  • Ford Focus ST (Mk3 facelift)

For more than 15 years now, a few things have been guaranteed with a Ford Focus ST: gutsy turbocharged performance, slightly juvenile handling tendencies and some kind of orange on the colour palette. If the ST170 was a rather tepid warm up for the sub-RS Focuses, then from 2005 they've really been on top form. Perhaps not the most sophisticated offerings out there, but people who want sophistication can buy a painting. For sheer entertainment, you'll do little better than a fast Focus.

On launch in 2012, the 250hp, four-cylinder Focus ST was perhaps a tad too rowdy for its own good. It was facelifted for 2015, though, and much improved: as well as being better sorted dynamically, it looked nicer and the interior made a whole lot more sense. If you fancy a Focus ST – and there are many reasons why you should – then a facelifted car is the one to have.

For £15k, buyers are spoilt for choice: this 2016 ST-3 hatch has covered fewer than 40,000 miles and just sneaks in under budget. Don't forget there was an ST estate available, too, combining the hatch's brawny performance with some extra practicality – this ST-3 wagon is £15,000 exactly.

Up to £20,000…

  • Ford Capri

It would be easy to fill this list with more recent stuff, but we'd be remiss not to gently remind you that there is another way to go when it comes to Ford's bountiful back catalogue. And though we're clearly not short of contenders, nabbing a Capri for £20,000 seems as good a buy as any.

Now, it says a lot about the world of classic cars that £20k for a Capri doesn't seem all that bad in 2021 – there are Brooklands on offer at three times that – even if they were once traded for loose change. Fact is there isn't currently a Capri on PH that's less than £15k, so it's a case of like it or lump it for now. And in the shape of the cheapest V6 out there, a 1984 model with 100,000 miles, and it's £19,995, we've decided to like it.

That's because, more than 30 years after the Capri was culled, there remains a lot to like – as we found in our Hero story a couple years back. Certainly the great British public still loves seeing them on the road, and, once allowances are made for some old technology, a V6 remains a really rewarding drive. If it is the car you always promised yourself, now looks as good a time as any – those values have held strong for a while now…

Up to £25,000…

  • Focus RS (Mk3)

After two generations off memorable front-wheel drive RS Focuses, the third iteration used four-wheel drive. Like those FWD versions, however, Ford did not skimp on the hardware. A new GKN driveline was installed to make the best of having more power and more axles to send it through. For the first time, there was a Focus RS with a Drift Mode…

With a chunky 350hp from the 2.3-litre Ecoboost, the RS was a formidably fast car in all conditions; even Drift Mode kept all four wheels driven, so a driver was never short of traction. With turbo torque and the ability to get it to the road better than any previous iteration, the Mk3 was on a new plane of performance. Yes, it was firm, and, yes, it was heavy, but there was no doubting the Mk3's place as a legitimate member of the RS clan.

The model evolved over time, too, with Mountune power upgrades and a front limited-slip differential offered, culminating in the 50-car Heritage Edition – the one on PH currently available is £80k. Which all serves to make the prospect of a £25k Focus RS look all the more tempting, even if it's not an awful lot less than the original RRP. This one has the optional, desirable forged wheels, is painted Nitrous Blue and is less than 50,000 miles old – it's yours for £24,999.

Up to £35,000…

  • Ford Mustang GT

Such is the popularity of 5.0-litre Mustangs in the UK that Ford now only sells the V8 over here; apparently just 15 per cent of buyers opted for the four-cylinder Ecoboost. Which makes some sense, given how inextricably linked eight cylinders are with the Mustang mystique. If you're going to buy into the pony car dream, why not go the whole hog?

And it's hard not to love the hog in question. There are swifter, sleeker coupes available for a middleweight budget – some of them are made by Porsche – but none precisely replicates the feel of a Mustang. And certainly not one powered by a naturally aspirated, manually geared 5.0-litre engine.

The relative success of the flagship Mustang when new means used buyers have plenty to choose from as well. Of the 97 post-2015 'S550' Mustangs for sale on PH, 79 of them are V8s. Furthermore, with £35,000 at your disposal, the updated car that was introduced in 2018 is within budget. Not only did it liberate more power from the V8 (pushed to 450hp), the facelift introduced a new 10-speed automatic, a fresh look and revised chassis settings; like the Focus ST mentioned earlier, the mid-life refresh is worth seeking out. This 2018 car is in by the skin of its teeth at £34,990, and looks the ideal way to live the Mustang dream in the UK.

Up to £50,000…

  • Focus RS500

Here's where a real glut of great fast Fords are available, so much so that it's difficult to decide on exactly the car to nominate. Which isn't exactly unreasonable, because £50k is a lot of money. But there really is everything, from rear-wheel drive Escort to four-wheel drive ones, classic Mustangs to Bullitts, Ranger Raptors, F-150 Raptors and almost every possible curio in between you could wish for – anyone for a Model B hot rod?

It's hard to ignore the old RS500, though. The Mk2 Focus RS has already beguiled pretty much everyone who drove it, the towering wallop of its five-cylinder matched by a terrific chassis, but the RS500 was something else again. It looked mean as hell in its matt black wrap, and its boosted 350hp – an amount sufficient for its replacement to be four-wheel drive – ensured mighty performance. As a valedictory salute for the FWD Focus RS, it was epic.

So epic, in fact, that any of the 500 examples are pretty hard to come by. It cost £35k new in 2010 and has never been available for less; should one crop up, £50,000 is what'll be asked, if not a good deal more. With the future of fast Focuses in doubt, the RS500 is never going to be anything less than a legend.

Up to £65,000…

  • Sierra RS Cosworth

Perhaps no name is as evocative in fast Ford folklore than Sierra RS Cosworth. Whether it's through the motorsport exploits of the RS500 or the Sapphire's somewhat nefarious reputation as a getaway car, nothing quite gets the blood pumping in a Ford fan like a Cossie.

That enviable reputation is what's ensured such unassailably strong values for Sierras of any stripe in recent years – there isn't one for less than £10k on PistonHeads currently. However, as we all know, there are expensive Sierras and then there are expensive Sierras – with a trio of three-door Cosworths around £65k, there was only one thing likely to happen.

Those early whaletails are where the Sierra legend arguably began, with the primary aim of the Cosworth project being a successful Group A touring car. It was almost a fortunate corollary that it made the Sierra cool as well, an impression furthered by the RS500 and never quite matched by the four-door cars. Which is why, more than 30 years later, they're still much more collectible.

Of particular note at the moment alongside the two others is this red Cosworth, a one-off built for the Duke of Bedford, for sale at exactly £65,000. Which would be one way to make an entrance at the fast Ford festival…

Up to £85,000…

  • Mustang GT350R

Consider this one a little left-field. Because while we could suggest a very limited edition Focus RS here, or a meticulously prepared Escort Mk2 there, it would be hard to honestly recommend them as great purchases for so much money. A Shelby Mustang, on the other hand…

Yes, it's left-hand drive and, yes, it might prove a bit much in your local town centre, but the GT350R is deserving of both its badge and its asking price. Short of a GT, an Blue Oval badged car has never been quite so track focused. The Voodoo flat-plane crank V8 was about as far from the traditional Mustang engine as is possible to imagine, revving beyond 8,000rpm and delivering 530hp with razor sharp responses. The chassis was just as single-minded, with carbon wheels, a kerb-scraping ride height and functional aero: "a non-compromise car in the pursuit of maximum track capability" was how Ford described the GT350R at its 2015 launch.

Predictably enough, this 2016 car is the only GT350R in the classifieds, but we couldn't ignore it. It's covered just 3,000 miles and, mercifully, the carbon wheels look undamaged too. Just the thing for the 2021 track day season…

Sky's the limit…

  • GT40

It really couldn't be anything else here, could it? Not even the 21st century reincarnations could really suffice; with a bottomless budget to buy a fast Ford with, you're getting a GT40. And lots of polite questions about which replica it is…

More than half a century after its infamous circuit exploits, all of the original GT40s are special, but this one is especially notable. Chassis P/1069 was the 1967 Geneva show car, after which it was part of the UK Ford press fleet (!) and then sold to Anthony Bamford, he of JCB fame. This GT40 has been raced throughout its life, and looks set for many more years racing yet – you can see it in action here.

As for cost, this one is listed at POA, but any buyer is undoubtedly talking millions, even without period race history. For some idea, RM sold a GT40 road car for $3m back in 2016. Still, if the sky really is the limit…


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