John’s Ford Orion Ghia 1.6i MK1 (1984)

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The Ford Orion was a true product of the 80’s, and a car that really epitomises the way car buyers’ tastes had changed (and were continuing to change) over the previous decade. The Orion was designed to fill a gap in Ford’s portfolio at the time – an affordable four-door saloon. In other words Ford no longer sold a type of car that used to be it’s bread and butter… think Cortina!

Such a gap existed in Ford’s line-up because the market had shifted tectonically to a new era of car – the front-wheel-drive hatchback. Ford’s Fiesta, Sierra, and Escort were all hatch back cars. Ford’s “top of the line” model (the Granada) was even released as a hatchback before the saloon followed a few years later.

The Orion was loosely based around the hugely successful MK3 Escort (notice that the front ends were very similar). However unlike the Escort (with its hatchback boot) the Orion featured a long flat trunk with a generous boot underneath. The car was initially launched with a 1.3 litre, and 1.6 litre version of the CVH engine (again designed for the Escort) but this was later joined by a larger 1.8 “Zetec” engine in the Orion MK3.

The Orion surprised some executives at Ford (who believed the market for larger saloons was dead) and sold incredibly well racking up over 3.5 million units throughout its 10 year lifespan. Sales were strongest in the UK where it was consistently in the “top ten” best selling cars between 1984 and 1990. It also set off a bit of a trend we still see today, where manufacturers create saloon versions of popular hatchbacks (think of the VW Jetta for example!)

The Owner: John, Age 16, Lives in Scotland
The Owner: John, Age 16, Lives in Scotland

Dream Car: A Moonstone Blue RS500 Sierra Cosworth would be my dream car right now!

We have huge respect for any car enthusiast, but when it comes to people like John, who is only 16 years old, and already restoring and rescuing classic cars – well that respect turns into admiration. Not only has John done an incredible job restoring (and modifying) this Orion, he’s done most of the work himself, and clearly has a brilliant vision when it comes to aesthetics. He’s turned a car that in standard form looks, well… a bit dull, into an awesome looking bit of a machinery! Hats off John!

We saw John’s Orion posted online and wasted no time reaching out to him to find out more! Read his story below and be as in awe as we were…

Ford Orion Ghia 1.6i MK1 (1984)

Ford's last attempt to save the dwindling "saloon" segment turned out to be a roaring success!
Model Year 1984
Model Orion MK1
Make Ford
Keywords classic british, classic car, fast ford, Modified, restomod, restored

Highlights

  • John is only 16… yes you read that correctly. He's taken a rusty old Orion destined for the scrap yard, fully restored it, and turned it into this beautiful looking thing.
  • John's dad always ran old Ford's, and restored them as a hobby (mainly Escorts and Orions along with a couple Cossies, Capris, and Granadas). As he grew up he had a passion for old Japanese cars, and always loved old Fords.
  • He lives on Shetland, and the car came up on Facebook Marketplace on Orkney (a nearby island). He had money saved up and thought this would be a perfect first car as a bit of a project before he passed his test.
  • The car needed major welding work. John had done bits of welding before so knew how to use the MIG. He did most of the work with Dad keeping him right and showing him the ropes every now and then!
  • The car had a full engine rebuild, stacks of welding (well it is a Ford after all) and the respray was done at home by John!

Modifications

  • Suspension modifications – The car runs on new 60mm lowering springs and TA Technix shocks.
  • The car is painted "Sunburst Red", and has an RS1600i front bumper and front spoiler, S1 RS Turbo side stripes, and a Sapphire Cosworth rear spoiler.
  • The wheels are 16 inch RS7 Spokes (which were a MK1 Mondeo optional extra) and they're wrapped in 195/45/16's on the back and 195/40/16's on the front.
  • Interior wise, a set of Alfa Romeo P4 33 Recaro bucket seats were sourced and installed along with a 3-Spoke Cosworth steering wheel.
  • The original engine was seized so a donor 1.6i CVH engine was sourced, stripped down and fully rebuilt to standard spec.

Interview with the owner

  • Well… 16 years old and you've done this. Impressed doesn't do it justice! Tell us, when did you purchase the car John?
    Back in October 2019.
  • And what made you go for an Orion MK1?
    My Dad always ran old Ford's, and restored them as a hobby. Mainly Escorts and Orions along with a couple of Cossies, Capris, Granadas etc.
    So I was born around old Fords. As I grew up I had a passion for old Japanese cars, and always loved old Fords.
    I live on Shetland, and the car came up on Facebook Marketplace on Orkney, a nearby island. I had money saved up and thought this would be a perfect first car as a bit of a project before I pass my test.
  • What's it like to drive?
    As I'm only 16, I've not driven it much! Though I've had a shot on a private road which was good fun!
  • Do you know the current BHP?
    Yes, it's around 105 bhp!
  • So the car has been fully restored, tell us about that…
    The car needed major welding work.
    I had done bits of welding before hand so I knew how to use the MIG. I did most of the work, with my dad keeping me right and showing me how!
    I firstly stripped the car to a shell. Welded in most of a new front end, floor pans, boot floor, chassis legs etc.
    The engine was seized. My dad luckily had an old 1.6i CVH stored away from years ago, so I stripped it down and fully rebuilt to standard spec.
    I painted the car myself in the shed too, which surprisingly came out really well after hours of sanding and buffing!
    Our Thoughts: Anyone else as impressed as we are here…?!!
  • We can see it's been modified! What have you done to it?
    So far, Suspension, Bodywork, Wheels & Tyres, and Interior!
  • What have you done to the suspension?
    Put in new 60mm lowering springs and TA Technix shocks.
  • What have you done to the bodywork?
    She's painted "Sunburst Red" with an RS1600i front bumper, front spoiler and S1 RS Turbo side stripes. Oh and a Sapphire Cosworth rear spoiler!
  • What have you done with the wheels & tyres?
    The wheels are 16 inch RS 7-Spokes (which were a MK1 Mondeo optional extra). They're wrapped in 195/45/16's on the back and 195/40/16's on the front.
  • What have you done with the interior?
    I sourced a set of Alfa Romeo P4 33 Recaro bucket seats, which I put in. Along with a 3-Spoke Cossie steering wheel!
  • Do you plan to do any further modifications to it?
    Yes, the next modification is going to be GAZ coilovers as the lowering springs are too bouncy.
    Most likely going to drop a ST170 lump into her at some point, maybe even a turbo kit on there too.
  • Is the car a "keeper" or will you sell it one day?
    She's a keeper!
  • Ok final question – ignoring cost, and assuming you couldn’t go and sell it for profit… what’s your dream car and why?
    Many many dream cars haha. I've always loved the shape of the Cossies. So I think a Moonstone blue RS500 Sierra Cosworth would be my dream car right now.
    SEE BELOW FOR PICTURES OF THE RESTORATION:

Gallery

Owner: John
Model: Orion MK1
Make: Ford
Keywords: classic british, classic car, fast ford, Modified, restomod, restored

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