The XR2 was the second vehicle to roll out of Ford’s Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE) plant at Dunton in Essex, hence the XR2 tag. Their first project was the 2.8i V6 Capri which although never given the XR tag was the mythical XR1. Their instructions for the design of the XR2 were simple; major changes to the transmission or chassis were not allowed but the car was to be capable of a top speed of 100mph+.
The XR2 used the 1600cc Kent engine already in use in the American Fiesta. The XR2 was given a 32/34 Weber DFT carburettor and a mildly up-rated 4 speed manual gearbox. The brakes benefited from ventilated discs at the front although the rear still used drums. The car was fitted with up-rated and slightly lower suspension and a rear anti-roll bar although surprisingly a front anti roll bar was never used. Also up-rated were the wheels and tyres. The wheels fitted were 13×6 and were the first generation of the “Pepper Pot” design, they were fitted with 185×60 tyres which helped to give the car more grip on the road. The appearance of the car was improved with the square headlights and indicators being replaced by round headlights and the indicators being mounted in the bumper. The front end of the car was also improved with the addition of spot lights and the bumper gaining a set of over-riders.
All this made for a very impressive looking car, which at just £5500 proved to be very popular with approximately 20,000 being sold in the UK by the time the Mk2 was introduced in 1984. But it wasn’t just about looks, the engine kicked out 84bhp which could drive from 0 to 60 in just 9.5 seconds and then on to a top speed of 105mph!